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FUNDAMENTAL RESEARCH
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 36  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 258-264  

Influence of lunar cycles on growth of Ashwagandha(Withania somnifera [L.] Dunal)


1 Department of Dravyaguna, Institute for Post Graduate Teaching and Research Ayurveda, Gujarat Ayurved University, Jamnagar, Gujarat, India
2 Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry Laboratory, Institute for Post Graduate Teaching and Research Ayurveda, Gujarat Ayurved University, Jamnagar, Gujarat, India

Date of Web Publication20-May-2016

Correspondence Address:
Swagata D Tavhare
Ph.D. Scholar, Department of Dravyaguna, IPGT and RA, Gujarat Ayurved University, Jamnagar - 361 008, Gujarat
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0974-8520.182763

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   Abstract 

Introduction: Ayurvedic classics have advocated to collect the medicinal plants according to part used and seasons in order to get desired pharmacological action and therapeutic benefits. The logic behind this principle is being validated by recent researches. Aim: To analyze the influence of lunar cycles on growth of Ashwagandha in Shishira and Greeshma Ritu (winter and summer season). Materials and Methods: Fourteen small crops of Ashwagandha of average size 10 cm were collected on October 7, 2013, from institute campus and then replantation was done at Charaka Herbal Garden, Gujarat Ayurved University, Jamnagar in an area of 60 cm × 60 cm (l × b). No fertilizers or pesticides were used. The plants were watered daily and plants were uprooted as per lunar cycles for analysis. Eight samples were collected and observed during Shishira and Greeshma season on Pournima(full moon) and Amavasya (new moon) days. The measurements were taken thrice and average values were taken into consideration for study purpose. The variations in morphological characteristics such as length, breadth, weight, and number of roots and twigs were studied through statistical procedure of principle component analysis, which makes interpretation of all possible related variables. Results: Root weight (RW), pith diameter (PD) and internodal distance (ID) were found to be increased on full moon days as compared to new moon days. The maximum RW was observed during Greeshma Aashadha Pournima. Conclusion: The study has shown a definite influence of lunar cycles on the growth of the plant parts assessed by RW, PD, and ID that have found to be increased on full moon days as compared to new moon days.

Keywords: Ashwagandha, Greeshma, lunar cycles, Shishira, Withania somnifera


How to cite this article:
Tavhare SD, Nishteswar K, Shukla VJ. Influence of lunar cycles on growth of Ashwagandha(Withania somnifera [L.] Dunal). AYU 2015;36:258-64

How to cite this URL:
Tavhare SD, Nishteswar K, Shukla VJ. Influence of lunar cycles on growth of Ashwagandha(Withania somnifera [L.] Dunal). AYU [serial online] 2015 [cited 2019 Nov 12];36:258-64. Available from: http://www.ayujournal.org/text.asp?2015/36/3/258/182763


   Introduction Top


Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera [L.] Dunal.) is an important herb used in more than 300 formulations in the Ayurvedic and indigenous medical systems.[1] Its annual demand is 7000 tonnes/year but its actual production is 1500 tonnes/year.[2] Due to its high medicinal use, the plant is seeking attention of Ayurvedic as well as modern research.[3] Being root is the main part used for medicinal purpose, uprooting of whole plant in order to obtain botanical trade leads to loss of it. Proper harvesting techniques are useful in order to obtain maximum yield and minimize wastage of raw materials. Collection of plants as per lunar cycle is one of the methods for obtaining plant with maximum phytoconstituents. Traditionally, it is practiced in Rome and Europe for getting excellence in the morphological characteristics such as weight, taste, growth, strength, germination, flowering, fruiting and final yield.[4]

Recent researches has also showed the phytoconstituents variation as per lunar cycles.[2] One of the requirements of the drug is that they should possess maximum activity and should contain maximum percentage of active constituents. In cultivation, attention is paid to selection of proper drug, type of soil and climatic factors such as light, temperature, rainfall, and fertilizer, so that strong sturdy plants rich in active chemical constituents would grow. Ayurvedic classics have advised collection of Sheeta Veerya (cold potency) root during months of Shishira (winter) and Ushna Veerya (hot potency) in Greeshma (summer).[5] According to previous studies, hypothesis was made that drugs collected during lunar cycles shows maximum therapeutic effect during full moon days (Pournima).[6] In this study, an attempt has been made to observe changes in growth taking place in Ashwagandha collected in Greeshma and Shishira seasons in different lunar cycles.


   Materials and Methods Top


To study the effect of lunar cycles on the growth and morphological characters of Ashwagandha, total 14 small plants of wild Ashwagandha of around 10 days old plantof average length of 10 cm were collected on October 7, 2013 from institute campus and then replantation is done at Charak a Herbal Garden, Gujarat Ayurved University, Jamnagar in an area 60 cm × 60 cm (l × b), so as to maintain similar environmental and nutritional status to the plants. No fertilizers or pesticides were used. The plants were watered daily and were uprooted as per lunar cycles for analysis. Eight samples were collected and observed during Shishira and Greeshma season on Pournima (full moon) and Amavasya (new moon) days. These eight samples were labeled as, SMA: Shishira Magha Amavasya, SMP: Shishira Magha Pournima, SPhA: Shishira Phalguna Amavasya, SPhP: Shishira Phalguna Pournima, GJA: Greeshma Jyeshtha Amavasya, GJP: Greeshma Jyeshtha Pournima, GAA: Greeshma Aashadha Amavasya, GAP: Greeshma Aashadha Pournima. The measurements of uprooted plants were taken thrice to minimize error and average values were taken into consideration for analysis purpose.


   Observations and Results Top


Geographical details of habitat: Latitude – 22°:47”, Longitude – 70°:07” 65 m above mean sea level (MSL). The time schedule for collection of Ashwagandha root according to lunar cycles is placed at [Table 1]. The plants were collected within 1 h after sunrise to keep the “time” variable constant. Sunrise time was noted according to Hindu Panchanga (almanac) of year 2014. The growth variation in the characters of Ashwagandha is depicted in [Table 2] and [Table 3]. The vertical length of the plant was found to be decreased from SMP to SPhA but at the same time, horizontal growth was found to be increased in the form of the twigs. Insignificant changes were seen according to lunar cycles on the area covered by root of Ashwagandha.
Table 1: Time schedule for collection of Ashwagandha according to lunar cycles (year 2014)

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Table 2: Growth variation in the characters of the Ashwagandha based on lunar cycles

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Table 3: Difference between root diameter, pith diameter and area of root samples

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All the plants were selected of same size and kept under same environmental condition in the same habitat, thus parameter changes are assumed to be uniform. The results are analyzed using principle component analysis (PCA) through Unscrambler software (version 9.7; CAMO Software AS 2007, OSLO, Norway).

Sample of GAP is differentiated from GAA, GJP and GJA on the basis of root weight (RW), breadth of primary root (BTP), pith diameter (PD). Sample of GAA and GJP resembles each other on the basis of difference in parametric values such as breadth of secondary rootlets (BRS), twig length 2 (TL2), number of roots (NR), length of secondary rootlets (LRS), and night length (NL). Due to this, they are separated from GAP and GJA.

GJA sample differentiated from rest Greeshma samples (GAP, GAA, and GJP) on the basis of length of primary root (LRP), twig length 1 (TL1), number of secondary rootlets (NRS), internodal distance (ID) values [Graph 1 [Additional file 1]]. All the four samples of Shishira are separated from each other. The variable NRS and LRS didn't show much variation. SMP is well separated on the basis of plant length (PL) and NL. SPhP is differentiated due to TL2, RW, and DL. SPhA is differentiated due to parameters such as NRT, LRP, BRS, BRP, PD, TL1, ID, and BR. SMA is separated due to NRS [Graph 2 [Additional file 2]].

From PCA, it is clear that, all Pournima samples are well differentiated from each other as they lie in four different quadrants. Among Pournima samples, the parameters such as NL, DL, TL1, TL2, LRP, and NRS didn't show much difference as they lie in center of PCA. GAP sample differentiated on the basis of BR and SMP sample is separated on the basis of PL, NRS values [Graph 3 [Additional file 3]]. All Amavasya samples showed well defined differentiation from each other. SPhA sample is separated from other sample by the parameter of NRS. GJA is separated from rest samples on the basis of LRP. GAA samples is different from rest samples on the basis of LRS, BRS and NRT. SMA sample is differentiated from each other on the basis of PL. The characters such as TL1, TL2, BTP, BRT, DL, NL and PD show resemblance among all Amavasya samples [Graph 4 [Additional file 4]].

From PCA, it is clear that all the eight samples of Ashwagandha are differentiated from each other in two different seasons on the basis of plant morphology. There is a progression from Amavasya to Pournima samples but maximum difference of progression is seen in Greeshma season between Pournima and Amavasya suggesting the lunar phase influence on plant growth [Graph 5 [Additional file 5]].

All the samples showed progressive age wise increase in the parameters analyzed. Parameters such as LRS, NRS, BRT, and BRS didn't show much variation. SPhP, GJA, and SPhA samples showed maximum differentiation on the basis of RW. GJP and GAA showed differentiation on the basis of NRT, BRS, BTP and BRP. GAP sample is separated from rest seven samples on the basis of LRP and LRS values. SMA sample was differentiated due to maximum NRS and there was no tertiary root development found [Graph 6 [Additional file 6]].

All the eight samples are differentiated from each other with 100% data values on PC2. All lunar values of specific season didn't show much difference except GJP and GJA, which are separated through PCA and GJA showing differentiation from rest of the samples. The maximum RW was observed during GAP though the PL, NRS, and NRT were found maximum in GAA [Graph 4] and [Graph 5].

All Greeshma and Shishira samples got varying amount of light thus placed in different quadrant on PCA [Graph 7 [Additional file 7]].


   Discussion Top


The concept of drug collection has importance since Vedic period.[7] In modern era, it has gain attention for obtaining a good amount of qualitative as well as quantitatively potent yield. The concept of lunar gardening is adopted to obtain good amount of yield of phytoconstituents. Through microscopic observation, it is proved that the moon controls the sap flow in plants.

From the laboratory experiments, it is known that light intensities as low as 0.1 lux (approximately 0.01 foot candle) during the night can influence the photoperiodic time measurement in some plants. The light intensities are three times greater, that is 0.3 lux at full moon days, which may be one of the causative factors for the influence of lunar.[8] The concept is also supported by Newton's law of gravitation, which states that tides are affected by the gravitational pull of the moon. The pull of the moon is stronger than the sun because, even though the sun is larger, the moon is closer to the earth. The strongest effect is felt when the moon and sun pull from the opposite sides of the earth, at the full moon phase. These forces effect the water content of the soil, creating more moisture in the soil at the time of the new and full moon days. This increased moisture encourages the root to grow. It is also found that, even the small parts of the plant has more oxygen consumption during lunar period.[9]

From the above experimental observation, it is clear that all the eight samples collected during Shishira and Greeshma season on Amavasya and Pournima, respectively, showed differentiation in morphological characters. As the plant age increases, there is linear increase seen in all the features but the extra residual increment or difference, is calculated through PCA and described in graphical manner for easier understanding.

In Shishira season, length of the plant started increasing from SMA to SPA but afterwards horizontal growth was started in the form of twig formation. During Phalguna season, plants were affected by leaf spot disease creating stressor response, which has produced damage to leaves and probably retardation in length of plants. It has been seen that during new twigs formation, the length of the plant has not increased in constant manner. Number of rootlets (NRS, NRT), breadth of rootlets (BRP), etc., didn't show significant differences according to lunar phases probably due to environmental stressors pertaining to habitat or plants adaptations. During such stressor conditions, the plant mainly functions for protective mechanism and secretes compounds such as phenols and flavonoids.[10],[11] In Greeshma, increase in length as well as breadth took place proportionately. The number and length of twigs increased subsequently. The weight of root was increased subsequently in all samples except a fall is noted in GJA sample may be due to environmental stress like sudden increase in heat, which resist the normal growth of the plants.

The difference between RD and PD has increased consequently maximum being at GJA sample, that is 0.5 cm then it has constant in Greeshma season suggesting dense accumulation of tissues. A slight decrease of this difference was seen in SPhA sample. In Greeshma season, there was stability in these differences [Table 2].

The ID of all samples has increased except a fall in GAA sample and being maximum at GJP, that is 7.5 cm. It is noted that the increase in ID was observed during Pournima days. During new moon light period the leaf size and length of twigs were found to be increased.

The parameters such as RW, PD and ID were found to be increased on full moon days as compared to consecutive new moon days samples.

The energy received from sun is used for photosynthesis, which is prime function of plant, the residual energy is utilized for the synthesis of metabolites which helps plant to resist against environmental stress such as heat and fungal attack. The exposure of plant to sunlight was more in Greeshma Pournima days as compared to Greeshma Amavasya and Shishira. Thus, though there is no specific conclusion on growth of Ashwagandha as far as lunar cycles are concerned still the Greeshma season samples had exhibited variation of growth in comparison to Shishira Ritu.


   Conclusion Top


The study carried out to assess the effect of lunar cycles on the growth of the plant has shown a definite influence on the growth of the plant parts which is assessed by the parameters such as root weight, pith diameter, and intermodal distance which have found to be increased on full moon days as compared to new moon days. The present study clearly indicates that full moon day influences the growth of root of Ashwagandha in comparison to new moon day. However, the study is done on small sample size in a defined habitat of Jamnagar. Hence, before generalizing the principle of lunar cycles experiments on large sample in different seasons and habitats are recommended.

Financial support and sponsorship

IPGT and RA, Gujarat Ayurved University, Jamnagar, Gujarat.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

 
   References Top

1.
Tavhare SD, Nishteswar K, Shukla VJ. Effect of lunar cycles on the phytoconstituents of Ashwagandha [Withania somnifera (L) Dunal.]. MD Dissertation, Department of Dravyagauna, IPGT & RA, Gujrat Ayurved University, Jamnagar; 2015. p. 29-48.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Tavhare SD, Nishteswar K, Shukla VJ. Effect of seasonal variations on the phytoconstituents of Aśvagandhā w.r. to lunar cycles. Ancient Sci Life 2016;35(3):150-8.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Tavhare S, Nishteswar K. Evidence based pharmaco- clinical studies on Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera [L.] Dunal). Punarnav 2015;2(5):1-11.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Cole IB, Balick MJ. Plants and the Moon-Traditions and Phenomena. HerbalEGram 2011;8(4). Available from http://cms.herbalgram.org/heg/volume8/04April/PlantsandtheMoon.html?t=1302037326&ts=1462878604 &signature=3eadc24e8fb921f0884555575e120dc1. [Last accessed on 2016 May 10].  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Acharya VJ, editor. Charaka Samhita of Agnivesha, Kalpa Sthana, Ch. 1, Ver. 10. Reprint ed. Varanasi: Chaukhamba Surbharati Prakashan; 2005. p. 653.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Bairy S. Phytochemical and pharmacotherapeutic evaluation of Parijata (Nyctanthes arbor-tristis Linn.) W.S.R. to its effects on Grudhrasi. MD Dissertation, Department of Dravyagauna, IPGT & RA, Gujrat Ayurved University, Jamnagar; 1977.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Tavhare SD, Nishteswar K. Collection practices of medicinal plants - Vedic, Ayurvedic and modern perspectives. International Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biological Archives 2014;5:54-61.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Beeson CFC. The moon and plant growth. Nature 1946;158:572-73.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Schad W. Lunar influence on plants. Earth, Moon and Plantes 1999;85:405-09.  Back to cited text no. 9
    
10.
Lattanzio V, Lattanzio VM, Cardinali A. Role of phenolics in the resistance mechanisms of plants against fungal pathogens and insects. In: Imperato F, editor. Phytochemistry: Advances in Research. Trivandrum: Research Signpost; 2006. p. 23-67.  Back to cited text no. 10
    
11.
Andersen OM, Markham KR, editors. Flavonoids Chemistry, Biochemistry and Applications. Boca Raton, London, New York, FL: Taylor and Francis; 2006.  Back to cited text no. 11
    



 
 
    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]


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