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Pharm Biol. 2016;54(2):189-97. doi: 10.3109/13880209.2015.1027778. Epub 2015 Apr 7.

Anticancer activities of Withania somnifera: Current research, formulations, and future perspectives.

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a Department of Biotechnology , SGB Amravati University , Amravati , Maharashtra , India and.
b Department of Chemical Engineering , Polytechnic School, University of Sao Paulo , Sao Paulo , Brazil.



Cancer, being a cause of death for major fraction of population worldwide, is one of the most studied diseases and is being investigated for the development of new technologies and more accurate therapies. Still the currently available therapies for cancer have many lacunae which affect the patient's health severely in the form of side effects. The natural drugs obtained from the medicinal plants provide a better alternative to fight against this devastating disease. Withania somnifera L. Dunal (Solanaceae), a well-known Ayurvedic medicinal plant, has been traditionally used to cure various ailments for centuries.


Considering the immense potential of W. somnifera, this review provides a detail account of its vital phytoconstituents and summarizes the present status of the research carried out on its anticancerous activities, giving future directions.


The sources of scientific literature were accessed from various electronic databases such as PubMed, Google Scholar, Science Direct, and library search.


Various parts of W. somnifera especially the roots with its unique contents have been proved effective against different kinds of cancers. The most active components withanolides and withaferins along with a few other metabolites including withanone (WN) and withanosides have been reported effective against different types of cancer cell lines.


This herb holds an important place among various anticancer medicinal plants. It is very essential to further screen and to investigate different formulations for anticancer therapy in vitro as well as in vivo in combination with established chemotherapy.


Anticancer; Withania somnifera; withaferin A; withanolides

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