Exports of Ashwagandha (Indian Ginseng) have risen by eight times in the last six years with the herb reaching overseas markets like the United States, Czech Republic and Canada, a senior Government of India official said in Ahmedabad, Saturday.

“In the last six years, there has a eight time growth in the export of Ashwagandha. It is one of the most sought after health supplements and is exported to over 60 countries,” said Rajesh Kotecha, secretary of Ministry of Ayush, who was here to participate in an annual event organised by Gujarat Ayurved Aushadh Manufacturers Association (GAAMA).

The herb is exported as extracts, officials added. India is the top producer and exporter of Ashwagandha with states like Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh emerging as leading producers. “Ashwagandha is one of the top three herbal supplements in the United States. It is competing with Ginseng from China,” the official from Ayush said.

Stressing on the importance of the herb, he said, “We are collaborating with London School of Traditional Medicine and Hygiene, United Kingdom to study Ashwagandha for Covid. The study -- which is ongoing -- is being conducted over 2500 people. We are making conscious efforts for evidence generation by tying up with reputed institutions.”

Ashwagandha is also known as Indian Ginseng or Withania somnifera or Winter Cherry. It is among a group of herbs called ‘adaptogens’ and has a long history of use in Ayurveda. Adaptogens affect systems and hormones in the body that regulate a person’s stress response, so is commonly used for Stress Management. Generally three forms of Ashwagandha are most commonly used for domestic and exports – Extract, Powder and Raw herbs.

“Curcumin extracts is another product which has seen similar growth in exports,” Kotecha said. The government official however refused to comment when asked about the Supreme Court’s order with regard to Patanjali Ayurved over publication of misleading advertisements. “It is a sub judice matter and I do not wish to offer any comments,” he said during an interaction with media persons on the side lines of the GAAMA event. When asked if the government is worried about the high number of spurious products being marketed as ayurvedic products in the market, Kotecha said, “Quality is a problem in our country for so many sectors. The government is committed to bring in transparency and so we are developing a number of standards. We have initiated BIS standards for our products and services.”

“The acceptance of Ayurvedic products has increased in many countries. In most countries, it is being seen as a supplement,” said Hardik Udani, president of GAAMA and MD of Vasu Healthcare Pvt Ltd.

The Ayurvedic industry in India has been growing at 17 percent CAGR. “The size of the industry was $3 billion in 2014. Today it has grown to $24 billion... Our exports have also grown by about 10 times,” the Kotecha added. Gujarat has about 850 ayurvedic manufacturing units and ranks fourth in the country after Uttar Pradesh, Kerala and Maharashtra.