Winter cherry, also known as Indian ginseng, has similar alleged rejuvenating properties to that of ginseng in Chinese medicine. The plant is endemic to India, particularly in the sub-Himalayan (1000 m) tracts of Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, and the drier parts of India. Its use can be traced back to Assyrian sources, and the drug was already used in Mesopotamia as a narcotic. Ancient sacred writings of Hinduism from India praise the plant as a wonder drug, and it was used as a charm and as an aphrodisiac. In Europe it has been known since the 16th century and it is included in many herbals. In Ayurvedic medicine the roots are used to treat ulcers, fever, breathing difficulties, cough, tuberculosis, dropsy, and a variety of nervous disorders.
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