All you need to know about ashwagandha for thyroid issues and its effects on the thyroid gland.
Ashwagandha has time been praised for a long time as a curative herb with healing powers for numerous diseases. Its connection with the thyroid gland is especially interesting. The herb’s health benefits can treat both extremes of thyroid problems- deficient production and excess production- which harm the body in different ways.
Numerous research projects have been conducted in a bid to establish the truth about ashwagandha’s curative potency. It is safe to say that, from research findings, the plant really does have good medical value. That said, it is also important to note that some unsubstantiated claims may just as well be mere myths.
This article looks to separate the truth from the myths and help you understand when ashwagandha root extract, leaves or plants may be the treatment you need. It narrows down specifically to the herb’s effects on the ashwagandha and thyroid correlation, given the gland’s involvement in most body functions.
What Is the Thyroid?
This is a gland that sits in the neck, just below the Adam’s apple. It is not prominent or easily noticeable, but its importance to regular body functions cannot be overstated. The thyroid is an endocrine gland (meaning it secretes hormones directly into the blood without using a duct.
It is butterfly-shaped, with two lobes that are joined by an isthmus. This gland produces hormones that affect the body’s cardiovascular, metabolic and developmental functions. That is pretty much every aspect of human functioning.
Thyroid secretions can affect stress, fatigue, fertility, sexual vitality, menstruation, and muscle strength among others. Thus, a dysfunctional thyroid could easily translate into a dysfunctional human being.
The thyroid can malfunction in two ways:
- Underproduction of hormones (Hypothyroidism)
- Overproduction of hormones (Hyperthyroidism)
Hypothyroidism occurs because of inadequate production of the thyroid hormone. This deficiency destabilizes the body and may result in fatigue without doing heavy tasks, goiter, weight gain, mood swings, and depression. The area around the neck may swell in the event a hypothyroid patient contracts goiter.
Excess production of the thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism) is not good for the body either. It may result in short temperedness, sleeping disorders, weight loss, diarrhea and increased heartbeat. The condition is also referred to as thyrotoxicosis or Graves’ disease.
With this basic understanding of the thyroid’s function and disorders, it will now be easy to understand the effects of ashwagandha on the thyroid.
How Ashwagandha Affects the Thyroid
Ashwagandha has been used in attempts to cure both hyper and hypothyroidism. There has been some relative success in alleviating a good number of symptoms. The herb has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine, ancient Indian medicine.
Ashwagandha has been shown to stimulate the thyroid to produce just the right amount of hormones. When production is low, the herb will stimulate the gland to produce more and vice versa.
Clinical tests have revealed that the herb can lead to an increased production of thyroxine (T₄) and triiodothyronine (T₃), both of which can go a long way in easing hypothyroidism symptoms. There have been no conclusive reports about ashwagandha minimizing the production of thyroid hormones.
A study carried out in 2017 sought to establish how a continued dosage of ashwagandha affects hypothyroid patients. The findings documented in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine showed that the herbal treatment did indeed increase the production of Thyroxine and Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH).
The study was conducted over a period of eight weeks, with 50 thyroid disorder patients forming the study group. The test group received a dosage of 600mg root extract every day for the duration of the study, while the control group only received placebo treatment. There was no improvement noted in the thyroid functioning of the control group.
While it is not directly known to cure every single thyroid disorder, ashwagandha does relief some of the acutest symptoms of these disorders. A separate study did show that where hyperthyroid disorder patients were experiencing sleep disorders, the plant could indeed help them gain better sleep by inducing a calming effect.
Myth 1: Sexual Stamina
It has been widely said that taking ashwagandha root can directly cause people to have increased sexual desire.
Truth: Ashwagandha extracts do not increase virility. They may, however, enhance better sleep, reduce stress by controlling the secretion of cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and induce calmness. All these factors can affect sexual performance. Thus, ashwagandha is not a direct virility prescription but may produce indirect benefits.
The name ‘horse-like’ is related to the root’s smell rather than turning users into sexual studs.
Myth 2: Fertility
Some people claim that ashwagandha extracts can cure all forms of impotence.
Truth: Fertility depends on a lot of factors. Ashwagandha products can enhance balanced hormonal secretions, which in turn assists in fertility and healthy pregnancies. These extracts may also increase the potency of semen.
Ashwagandha Thyroid Dosage
The exact dosage will depend on the form in which the herb is being taken. The two most popular forms are grounded powder and concentrated extracts. The powder (whether from roots, leaves or seeds) will require a bigger dosage because it contains parts which are not medicinal.
For grounded powder, one or two teaspoons twice a day will give a good boost to the thyroid. The powder can be boiled in water and mixed with honey or other ingredients to add taste. Mixing with other ingredients does not affect ashwagandha’s potency.
Concentrated extracts should be taken in a dosage of between 600 and 1200 mg per day. That means one or two capsules per day. A lower dosage can still offer some befits, but this is the optimal amount within safety parameters.
Is Ashwagandha good for hypothyroidism?
Ashwagandha, the Indian Ginseng, has been used for curative purposes for thousands of years. Historically it could be argued that the herb is just a placebo and that patients get well purely out of belief.
The Indian government and other agencies have, however, funded studies which have produced evidence in support of this magical herb’s medicinal value.
That ashwagandha- which has no species relation to ginseng- also benefits the thyroid gland is a big plus.
The thyroid gland is an integral part of normal body functioning, and thus even more resources need to be allocated to studies into the effects of ashwagandha on the thyroid.
For people struggling with problems like stress, anxiety, irritation, and goiter, ashwagandha might just be the magic treatment that the doctor didn’t prescribe.