Lifestyle

Ashwagandha and Thyroid: What Are the Benefits?

Discover the benefits of ashwagandha for thyroid health and explore its role in managing hormonal balance with Thrivelab.
Medically Reviewed By:
Dr. Nayan Patel

Have you ever felt like your body is playing a complicated game of chess against you? Despite following a healthy lifestyle with relentless enthusiasm, it feels like you’re constantly fighting fatigue, unexpected weight gain, and intense mood swings. As many others, you may be facing a common yet often overlooked opponent — thyroid imbalance.

In the vast world of wellness, ashwagandha, a super herb with roots in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, is making waves for its potential benefits for thyroid health. You may have known this herb as a natural stress reliever, but it may have more benefits than meets the eye.

Curious? Let's unravel the mysteries of ashwagandha and thyroid health together and see if this ancient herb can bring balance back to your life.

What Is the Thyroid?

A properly functioning thyroid is like a master puppeteer, subtly controlling various aspects of your body's functions. This small, butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of your neck is responsible for producing hormones that regulate your metabolism, affecting everything from your body temperature to how quickly you burn calories.

Thyroid disorders arise when this balance of hormones is disrupted, leading to a cascade of effects. For example:

  • Hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid, can result in fatigue, weight gain, depression, and a sensation of always feeling cold. 
  • Hyperthyroidism, an overactive thyroid, on the other hand, can lead to rapid heart rate, weight loss, nervousness, and excessive sweating. 
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is another common thyroid-related condition. It’s an autoimmune disorder that can cause both hyper and hypothyroid symptoms.

According to experts, more than 12 percent of the U.S. population will develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime. And if you think that's concerning, the numbers tilt even more heavily toward women. Women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems, with one in eight expected to face a thyroid disorder in her life.

Despite these worrying statistics, thyroid disorders are often overlooked or misdiagnosed, leaving millions struggling with unexplained symptoms. Here is an experience that nurse practitioner Katie Jo shared during one of our podcasts

“I had a client [where] we checked her thyroid, her TSH, thyroid stimulating hormone (that's the brain speaking to the thyroid to tell it to give it more hormone), [and it] was completely normal. Then we checked her markers for autoimmune thyroid, and they were skyrocketed. So we knew we needed to intervene for her quality of life.”

This is where potential solutions like ashwagandha can come into the spotlight. With its potential to support thyroid health, it could be a game-changer in managing thyroid imbalances. But how does it work? And, more importantly, is it the right fit for everyone? Let's delve deeper into the benefits of ashwagandha for thyroid health.

What Is Ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha, scientifically known as Withania somnifera, has been a vital herb in Ayurvedic and indigenous medical systems for over 3,000 years. Hailing from India, this robust plant with velvety leaves and small, bell-shaped flowers is often referred to as 'Indian ginseng' or 'winter cherry'. 

The name ashwagandha, though, speaks volumes about the herb. In Sanskrit, 'Ashwa' means horse, and “gandha” means smell, reflecting the strong aroma of its root, which is said to impart the strength and vitality of a horse.

Traditional Ayurvedic medicine uses Ashwagandha for its “rasayana,” or rejuvenating properties. The herb is touted for its potential to promote physical and mental health, enhance the body's resilience to stress, and prevent diseases associated with aging.

In modern wellness circles, ashwagandha has made a place for itself as a potent adaptogen, or a substance that helps the body adapt to stress. It is often incorporated into dietary supplements aimed at managing stress, enhancing cognitive function, and promoting overall well-being.

How Can Ashwagandha Support Thyroid Health?

To understand the potential benefits of ashwagandha for thyroid health, we must first grasp its role as an adaptogen. The beauty of adaptogens lies in their ability to bring balance. They help modulate the body's response to stress or a changing environment, and in the case of ashwagandha, this includes managing the hormonal balance.

For example, ashwagandha appears to have a positive effect on TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone), T3, and T4. These hormones are crucial for maintaining thyroid function. Having higher levels of these hormones could make it easier for people with hypothyroidism to achieve a more efficient balance. 

Another major benefit of ashwagandha is that it features several tension-soothing properties. Chronic inflammation is often a hidden contributor to hormonal imbalances, including thyroid disorders. Ashwagandha can have a positive influence on the inflammation and oxidative stress that so often results in these disorders. 

Lastly, we must remember that ashwagandha’s potential benefits go beyond the physical. Many thyroid disorders have a significant impact on mental health, causing symptoms such as anxiety and depression. Luckily, ashwagandha can help lower cortisol, which can not only help lower stress levels, but also support overall hormonal balance.

As one of our patients shared during her journey with us, "When my doctor suggested ashwagandha, I was skeptical. But after a few weeks, I felt like I was waking up from a deep slumber. The constant fatigue was gone, and for the first time in years, I felt equipped to handle stress without feeling overwhelmed."

Clearly, the potential benefits of ashwagandha for thyroid health are promising. However, it's essential to approach any new supplement with a balanced perspective, understanding that each individual's response might differ. Remember that ashwagandha is not a miracle cure for any type of thyroid disorder. 

What Are the Possible Side Effects of Ashwagandha? 

Just like every person is unique, so is the response to different supplements like ashwagandha. Although it is generally considered safe for most people, some individuals might experience side effects. Commonly reported ones include mild to moderate symptoms like headache, sleepiness, upset stomach, and rash.

However, certain individuals should exercise caution. For instance, people with autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, and type 1 diabetes should approach ashwagandha cautiously, as it can potentially stimulate the immune system

Those with existing thyroid conditions, particularly hyperthyroidism, should also seek medical advice before incorporating ashwagandha, given its potential to increase thyroid hormone levels. Additionally, pregnant or breastfeeding women, those with peptic ulcer disease, or those preparing for surgery should avoid ashwagandha due to a lack of adequate safety data or potential adverse effects.

Remember, even the most magical-sounding supplement is not a substitute for a balanced diet, healthy lifestyle, and regular medical check-ups. Always consult your Thrivelab provider before introducing a new supplement like ashwagandha into your routine. They can guide you based on your health history and specific needs, ensuring that your wellness journey is both safe and effective.

How Can You Incorporate Ashwagandha Into Your Daily Life?

Taking the plunge into the pool of wellness supplements can be daunting, but incorporating Ashwagandha into your routine doesn't have to be complicated. Here are some practical tips to make the process smoother:

  • Choose the right product: Ashwagandha is available in various forms, including capsules, powders, and liquid extracts. Look for products that are certified organic and free from unnecessary fillers or additives.
  • Watch your dosage: Start with a low dose to see how your body responds, and then gradually increase if necessary under your healthcare provider's guidance.
  • Be consistent: Supplements like ashwagandha work best when taken consistently over time. However, some practitioners suggest taking short breaks every few weeks to avoid developing resistance.
  • Pair it with a balanced diet: Consuming a nutrient-dense diet can only enhance the benefits of ashwagandha. It's all about creating synergies for your health!
  • Consider a holistic approach: Ashwagandha can be a valuable part of your wellness routine, but remember — it's just a part. Addressing lifestyle factors such as stress management, sleep quality, physical activity, hormonal imbalance, and diet is equally crucial.

Here at Thrivelab, we also advocate for the value of a personalized hormone replacement therapy plan — particularly, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT). BHRT can help replace any hormones that your body isn’t making enough of to help treat your symptoms at their source.

To learn more about how BHRT can help your thyroid disorder symptoms, schedule an appointment with one of our providers today. 

Ashwagandha and Thyroid Health

Ashwagandha has many benefits for thyroid health, from hormone balancing to promoting overall wellness. Yet, the tapestry of health is woven with threads of individuality, each person requiring their own unique pattern of care.

In a world brimming with health information, it's critical to seek what resonates with your individual health needs. As we've explored, ashwagandha could be an integral thread in your wellness. However, it’s important to see one of our hormone specialists before using ashwagandha to make sure your health concerns don’t have a deeper root cause.

At Thrivelab, we champion this individualized approach, threading together our expertise in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) with holistic wellness support. We invite you to consider us your partner, supporting your health one day at a time. Remember, when it comes to hormone health, it’s not just about surviving — it’s about thriving.

References

  1. An Overview on Ashwagandha: A Rasayana (Rejuvenator) of Ayurveda | PMC
  2. An Overview of the Thyroid Gland and Thyroid-Related Deaths for the Forensic Pathologist | PMC
  3. Hypothyroidism | NCBI Bookshelf
  4. Hyperthyroidism | NCBI Bookshelf
  5. Hashimoto Thyroiditis | NCBI Bookshelf
  6. General Information/Press Room | American Thyroid Association
  7. Thyroid Disease | Office on Women's Health
  8. Withania Somnifera | ScienceDirect Topics
  9. What are Adaptogens & Types | Cleveland Clinic
  10. Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha Root Extract in Subclinical Hypothyroid Patients: A Double-Blind, Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial | NCBI Bookshelf
  11. An Investigation Into the Stress-Relieving and Pharmacological Actions of an Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Extract | PMC
  12. Hypothyroidism Presenting as Psychosis: Myxedema Madness Revisited | PMC
  13. Immunomodulatory Effect of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) Extract—A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo Controlled Trial with an Open Label Extension on Healthy Participants | NCBI Bookshelf
  14. Bioidentical Hormone Therapy | PMC
References

More on Lifestyle

Why Do I Get So Hot When I Sleep? 8 Common Reasons
Why Do I Get So Hot When I Sleep? 8 Common Reasons
Experiencing night sweats? Discover the top eight reasons you might get hot during sleep and find effective solutions with Thrivelab.
Read More
My Body Feels Heavy and Sluggish: 7 Reasons Why
My Body Feels Heavy and Sluggish: 7 Reasons Why
Feeling heavy and sluggish? Don't worry — it happens to the best of us. Read on to discover why you may feel this way and what you can do about it. 
Read More
Let's discuss the psychological benefits of gratitude practices
Let's discuss the psychological benefits of gratitude practices
Incorporating gratitude into your life can be a simple and effective tool for navigating life’s challenges.
Read More
Sleep Hygiene Checklist: 10 Tips To Consider‎
Sleep Hygiene Checklist: 10 Tips To Consider‎
If you’re struggling to catch quality Zzzs at night, you may want to get your sleep hygiene in check. Here are ten tips from the experts at Thrivelab.
Read More
The 10 Best Supplements for Fatigue‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎
The 10 Best Supplements for Fatigue‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎
Discover the top 10 fatigue-fighting supplements and learn how they can work in sync with your hormones to reignite your energy with Thrivelab.
Read More
What Are Mood Stabilizing Hormones?‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎
What Are Mood Stabilizing Hormones?‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎ ‎
You may know that hormones are important for overall health, but what about mental wellness? Learn about mood-stabilizing hormones with Thrivelab.
Read More

GET STARTED

Reclaim Your Hormone Balance

Take the first step to feel your best with our free eligibility quiz.