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Ashwagandha Benefits: Can It Improve Thyroid Health?

ayurvedic herb withania somnifera, known as ashwagandha, indian ginseng, poison gooseberry, or winter cherry. hand drawn engraved vector sketch etch illustration. ingredient for hair and body care

Thyroid disorders are prevalent all over the world. Statistics shows that almost one-third of the world’s population reside in iodine-deficient areas. Because of this, many have turned to the medicinal herb known as Ashwagandha, which is said to be highly beneficial for those who desire to improve their thyroid health.

The Medicinal Herb and Its Benefits

Ashwagandha, known scientifically as Withania somnifera, is a popular herb of the Indian Ayurvedic system of medicine. It is commonly known as “Indian Winter cherry” or “Indian Ginseng” and has been used since the ancient times to treat various types of diseases.

It is also known in India as the “strength of a stallion” because of its restorative benefits and rejuvenating properties. It has been used as the treatment for conditions such as arthritis, anxiety, tuberculosis, menstrual problems, chronic liver disease, bronchitis, and many more.

But what makes Ashwagandha very helpful for thyroid health is its adaptogenic attribute. In fact, many scientific studies have been carried out to provide an in-depth detail of the herb’s classification as an adaptogen. By definition, an adaptogen is a drug or herb that takes action against both excess and deficiency. It also aids in the stabilization and regulation of the body’s functioning.

A scientific study indicates that Ashwagandha is a powerful adaptogen. This means that it possesses the ability to boost the body’s resilience to stress. This was proven during the swimming endurance experiment wherein researchers tested out the herb’s anti-stress function in rats.

After integrating an aqueous suspension of its root at 100 mg/kg/oral dosage to the subjects, results showed that the rats were able to swim twice compared to rats that have not received the herb supplement.

Ashwagandha as an Herbal Medicine for Thyroid Disorders

However, the plant is now more commonly used to treat thyroid disorders instead of simply just utilizing it as an energy booster or stress reliever. So how can this type of ginseng help in thyroid health? Before going any further, it is best to learn the basics first.

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ that can be found in the base of the neck. It is an endocrine gland that secretes two hormones into the blood. These hormones are triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4), and they are both essential for all the cells in the body to function normally.

Thyroid disorders are classified into two types: hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism indicates the overproduction of the thyroid gland of the T3 and T4. On the contrary, hypothyroidism is the insufficient production of T3 and T4. Each disorder presents different symptoms.

Hyperthyroidism symptoms include:

  • weight loss
  • low heat tolerance
  • diarrhea
  • muscle weakness
  • irritability
  • fast heartbeat
  • enlargement of the thyroid gland

On the other hand, hypothyroidism symptoms include:

  • weight gain
  • low tolerance to cold temperature
  • depression
  • constipation

Another study also cited that impairment of the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid neuroendocrine axis can lead to mental health issues, specifically major bipolar and depressive disorders. This led the researchers to conduct a placebo-controlled experiment to help them calculate thyroid indices.

With 60 participants, one of them was given Ashwagandha as a treatment for bipolar.

The study yielded promising results. By the end of the treatment period, the patients who took the herbal medicine showed an increase in T4 levels and a normalization of the TSH levels. This led to a conclusion that the plant is an effective natural cure for hypothyroidism because it contains antidepressant, antioxidant, T4-elevating, nerve-protecting, and anti-inflammatory properties.

When it comes to treating hyperthyroidism, Ashwagandha is said to produce a different effect. It is believed to have the ability to slow down the secretion of T3 through stimulating the selective rise of T4 levels in the body while lowering oxidative stress.

Take note that an overactive T3 is believed to be one of the main causes of hyperthyroidism.

Recommended Consumption and Dosage

However, it cautioned that the Indian Winter cherry must be consumed with rigid control if used for the treatment of hyperthyroidism. This is also the reason why the majority of Ayurveda doctors usually recommend a low dosage when taking the Indian Ginseng. It is even effective at just a dose of 50-100 milligrams of the leaf or root extract.

But an intake as much as 6,000 milligrams is still considered to be safe. Even so, it is still best to consult the doctor first for the correct dosage.

The most common form of the herbal supplement available is the churna, a fine sieved powder that can be combined with water and ghee (clarified butter). It is also sometimes mixed with honey or milk and can be taken twice daily with one or two teaspoons as the recommended measurement.

For those who prefer to skip any preparations, there is a capsule form available and one to two capsules can be taken twice daily.

Is It Safe?

In conclusion, it is safe to say that Ashwagandha is indeed a superstar when it comes to improving thyroid health. More than 200 studies can back up its great ability to enhance the body’s strength and resistance to certain diseases.

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3252722/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4296437/

https://thyroidadvisor.com/ashwagandha-thyroid-health/

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