Ashwagandha – a botanical with broad-spectrum health benefits

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is one of the most treasured botanicals in the ancient medical system of India. In fact, this adaptogenic botanical, often referred to as the Prince of Herbs, is considered a flagship botanical of Ayurveda, boasting a broad range of therapeutic benefits.

Numerous studies support its use for cognitive function, stress, muscle strength, endurance and recovery, glucose metabolism, hormone balance, sexual function, and thyroid health.*

Although ashwagandha extracts are often sought for their withanolide content, the plant contains a complex array of phytochemical components beyond withanolides, with the highest phytochemical concentration being found in the plant’s roots. It is the synergistic effect attributable to this diverse set of active compounds that is believed to contribute the multiple therapeutic properties of ashwagandha. 

The problem: adulteration

As consumer awareness of ashwagandha and its many benefits continues to increase, so does demand, creating pressure for increased cultivation. As cultivators struggle to meet the demand for ashwagandha root, the problem of economic adulteration has become a serious concern.

Although it is difficult to know just how much ashwagandha on the market is adulterated, reports continue to surface that validate these concerns.1 

Much of the adulteration comes in the form of non-root parts (stems, leaves, and flowering parts) being added to the roots. Although withanolides can be found in the other parts of the plant, the root contains the highest concentration and the most complex array of ashwagandha bioactives.

Because much of the research has been done using pure root extracts, the addition of leaves and other aerial parts that contain far less of these beneficial compounds diminishes the potential health benefits. The result is that the consumer receives fewer benefits at the same price, while cultivators and producers make more profit at the consumer’s expense.

The solution: know your supplier

Finding a reputable ashwagandha supplier is essential. That’s where Thorne comes in. Thorne cares deeply about where its ingredients come from. Thorne takes no shortcuts, sourcing only the highest quality ingredients while simultaneously taking extra steps to protect the environment

 We partner only with suppliers whose practices emphasize quality, science, and sustainability. 

The ashwagandha used in Thorne products is a prime example. It’s a full-spectrum ashwagandha root extract – KSM-66® developed by Ixoreal Biomed.2 KSM-66 ashwagandha root extract not only contains a wide array of synergistic compounds, but, according to Ixoreal Biomed, KSM-66 contains the highest concentration of withanolides of all major “root only” extracts available on the market today.

Whereas, other extracts range from 1.5-5.0% withanolides, KSM-66 contains more than a 5% concentration of withanolides as measured by HPLC. 

Ixoreal Biomed is the only major supplier of ashwagandha in the world to own the entire supply chain – from farm to pharmacy, so to speak. KSM-66 is produced using a proprietary extraction process, based on “green chemistry” principles, without using alcohol or other chemical solvents (that means no hidden ingredients). Green chemistry principles are non-polluting and require the least amount of resources and energy while simultaneously generating minimal or no waste material. 

Among other certifications, KSM-66 is USDA-certified organic, Non-GMO Project Verified non-GMO, certified gluten free, NSF certified, and NASC preferred supplier certified. Its benefits have been validated in at least 22 human trials – all randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies. 

Bottom line: better ingredients mean better potency, absorption, and digestibility – and ultimately better health.


1.    Singh V, Mundkinajeddu D, Agarwal A, et al. Adulteration of ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) roots and extracts. Botanical Adulterants Prevention Bulletin. Austin, TX: ABC-AHP-NCNPR Botanical Adulterants Prevention Program; 2018. [Accessed 5.20.19] 

2.    Ashwagandha: KSM-66 – The highest concentration, highly bioavailable, full spectrum root extract [Accessed 5.20.19]