If you’re one of the 10 million people in America currently living with a diagnosis of hypothyroidism, it’s time to discover an herb known as Ashwagandha. Adding this herb to your treatment routine is very easy. It has a lot of promise for reducing your symptoms and improving your health.
Ashwagandha is a saponin glycoside known as Indian ginseng or winter cherry. It helps in stabilizing and regulating the body functions.
How Ashwagandha Helps Hypothyroidism
According to Ayurveda, an increase in Vata and Kapha doshas are mainly responsible for hypothyroidism. A prolonged Vata and Pitta imbalance depletes ojas and causes Vata to push Kapha out of balance.1 Ashwagandha counters hypothyroidism by pacifying Vata and Kapha (Vatakaphahar). It is one of the best adaptogenic herbs (Rasayana) and is beneficial for increasing essence of life (Ojas) and restoring energy levels.2 Read more about Ashwagandha for hypothyroidism.
Ashwagandha Thyroid Benefits
Here is a list of several benefits that Ashwagandha has in hypothyroidism.
1. Ashwagandha reduces stress and anxiety.
Ashwagandha is a safe and effective adaptogen. Its roots aid in reducing stress and anxiety and it thereby improves the self-assessed quality of life.3
A study conducted to test the ability of Ashwagandha to combat stress and treat male infertility resulted in a decrease in stress, improved the level of antioxidants and improvement in overall semen quality.4 Another study involving mice showed that Ashwagandha weakened chronic stress induced perturbations (significant hyperglycemia, glucose intolerance, increase in plasma corticosterone levels, etc.), and concluded that this herb has significant anti-stress adaptogenic activity.5
2. Ashwagandha stimulates T4 hormones.
Ashwagandha stimulates the thyroid to produce more T4 hormone, but at the same time keeps potential risks of excess T4 in check.
Ashwagandha can stimulate the thyroid gland to produce more T4 hormone, thus treating hypothyroidism. Researchers concluded that patients with hypothyroidism experience benefits after consuming Ashwagandha because of its T4-elevating, anti-inflammatory, nerve-protecting, antioxidant and antidepressant properties.6 While high T4 levels may generate oxidative stress and the free radicals formed, oxidize the lipid membranes of cells in a process called lipid peroxidation and damage the cells. Ashwagandha is an effective antioxidant, able to scavenge free radicals and reduce lipid peroxidation and oxidative stress.
Therefore, even as it stimulates the thyroid to produce more T4, it keeps potential risks of excess T4 in check.7
3. Ashwagandha supports the adrenal glands.
Ashwagandha has shown incredible results for lowering cortisol and balancing thyroid hormones. It has been proven effective in supporting adrenal function helping you overcome adrenal fatigue and chronic stress.8
4. Ashwagandha supports the HPA functions (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal function).
Ashwagandha corrects the imbalance between immune and the neuroendocrine system to normalize the bodily functions under stressful conditions by targeting hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal gland axis.9 The hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and the adrenal glands all play a role in proper thyroid function.
5. Ashwagandha boosts immunity.
Ashwagandha has immunomodulating effects.10 One study looked at its effects on the cellular immune response. Administration of this herb was found to enhance the proliferation of lymphocytes, bone marrow cells and thymocytes.11
Another study showed that Ashwagandha possesses anti-inflammatory, antitumor, anti-stress, antioxidant, immunomodulatory, hemopoietic, and rejuvenating properties.12 These studies show the Ashwagandha can also help to slow the growth of tumors and reduce inflammation in the body.
6. Ashwagandha helps to cope with symptoms of hypothyroidism.
Ashwagandha helps in increasing memory,13 concentration, cognitive abilities and promotes an uplift of mood and restful sleep which are the symptoms of hypothyroidism. The effects of Ashwagandha intake are the same as that of the common pharmaceutical anxiolytic drugs diazepam, lorazepam and antidepressant drug imipramine. Above all it does not have any side effects.14,15
Ashwagandha acts like a GABAergic drug binding to GABA receptors, thereby producing calming, anti‐anxiety, anti‐convulsive, highly‐stabilizing effects.16
Ashwagandha promotes restful sleep. Restful sleep naturally reduces stress levels, while lower stress levels lead to good sleep. Both have an overall positive effects on the body and mind.
7. Ashwagandha has no side effects.
Ashwagandha has no side effects and withdrawal symptoms. A study suggests that Ashwagandha root extract can be safely and effectively used for long-term administration without any adverse side effects and withdrawal symptoms.17
1 Dr. Marc Halpern, Clinical Ayurvedic Medicine Sixth Edition, 7-10
2 Dr. J.L.N.Sastry, DravyagunaVijnana, Study of essential Medicinal Plants in Ayurveda Vol 2, Chaukhambha Orientalia,Varanasi.
3 K. Chandrasekhar, A Prospective, Randomized Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of Safety and Efficacy of a High-Concentration Full-Spectrum Extract of Ashwagandha Root in Reducing Stress and Anxiety in Adults Indian J Psychol Med. 2012 Jul-Sep; 34(3): 255–262.doi: 10.4103/0253-7176.106022 PMCID
4 Abbas Ali Mahdi, Withania somnifera Improves Semen Quality in Stress-Related Male Fertility 2011; 2011: 576962.Published online 2011 Jun 18. doi: 10.1093/ecam/nep138PMCID: PMC3136684
5 Lakshmi-Chandra Mishra ,Scientific Basis for the Therapeutic Use of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha): A Review Alternative Medicine Review Volume 5, Number
6 Gannon, Jessica M., Paige E. Forrest, and KN Roy Chengappa. “Subtle changes in thyroid indices during a placebo-controlled study of an extract of Withania somnifera
in persons with bipolar disorder.” Journal of Ayurveda and integrative medicine 5, no. 4 (2014): 241.
7 Huang, Yue-Ye, Aaron M. Gusdon, and Shen Qu. “Cross-talk between the thyroid and liver: A new target for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease treatment.” World J
Gastroenterol 19, no. 45 (2013): 8238-8246.
8 Chandrasekhar K ,A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha
root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian J Psychol Med. 2012 Jul;34(3):255-62. doi: 10.4103/0253-7176.106022.
9 Verma SK, Kumar A. Theraputic uses of Withania Somnifera (Ashwagandha) with a note on withanoloids and its pharmacological actions. Asian J Pharma Clin Res. 2011;4(1):1–4.
10 A Erlandsen,P01.44. In vivo immune modulating effects of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) BMC Complement Altern Med. 2012; 12(Suppl 1): P44.Published online
2012 Jun 12. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882- 12-S1- P44 PMCID: PMC3373860
11 Davis L, Effect of Withania somnifera on cell mediated immune responses in mice. J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2002 Dec;21(4):585-90.PubMed.
12 Mishra LC,Scientific basis for the therapeutic use of Withania somnifera (ashwagandha): a review. Altern Med Rev. 2000 Aug;5(4):334-46Pub Med.
13 Nava E ,Mental relaxation improves long-term incidental visual memory Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2004 May;81(3):167-71
14 Gupta, Girdhari Lal, and Avtar Chand Rana. “Protective effect of Withania somnifera dunal root extract against protracted social isolation induced behavior in rats.” Indian J Physiol Pharmacol 51, no. 4 (2007): 345-353.
15 Abdel-Magied EM, Abdel-Rahman HA, Harraz FM,The effect of aqueous extracts of Cynomorium coccineum and Withania somnifera on testicular development in
immature Wistar rats.J Ethnopharmacol. 2001 Apr; 75(1): 1-4.
16 KSM-66 Ashwagandha: The High-potency, Full Spectrum Ingredient for Stress Relief, Energy, Cognition and Immunity Anand V. Bodapati, Ph. D. UCLA Anderson
School Advisor, Ixoreal Biomed
17 Andrade, Chittaranjan, Anitha Aswath, S. K. Chaturvedi, M. Srinivasa, and R. Raguram. “A double-blind, placebo-controlled evaluation of the anxiolytic efficacy of an ethanolic extract of withania somnifera.” Indian journal of psychiatry 42, no. 3 (2000): 295.