Withania somnifera is a very popular medicinal plant used in countries of Indian subcontinent especially in Bangladesh and India by local healers and manufacturers of traditional medicines. The whole plant or its parts are used in preparations for various treatment purposes, especially nervous system related disorders. Present study aimed to validate the common use like epilepsy, anxiety, high pulpitation, depression etc and/or, if possible, suggest the possible mode of action of this plant or plant products. An attempt was made to perform experiments to evaluate anxiolytic and antidepressant activity of the ethanolic extract of the whole plant of W. somnifera. The experiments were conducted at the Pharmacology lab, Dept. of Pharmacy, North South University during the period of July 2011 to December 2011. Hole board test, Elevated plus-maze test, Open field test, and Forced swimming test were conducted to determine the potential anxiolytic and antidepressant activity. The extract showed significant (p≤0.05) increase in the motor function and exploratoty behavior in the Hole board test, Elevated plus-maze test, and Open field test compared to the vehicle treated control group. In the forced swimming test, the extract showed significant (p≤0.05) decrease in the period of immobility compared to the control group. Compiling the results given by the extract in these different experiments, it can be reported that the ethanolic extract of W. somnifera have potential anxiolytic and/ or antidepressant activities.
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