Ashwagandha, is an adaptogenic herb popular in Ayurvedic medicine that has shown incredible results for lowering cortisol and balancing thyroid hormones.
There have been over 200 studies on Ashwagandha’s ability to:
Improve thyroid function
Support adrenal glands
Reduce anxiety and depression
Combat effects of stress
Reduce brain cell degeneration
Stabilize blood sugar
Heal Your Thyroid
Ashwagandha is a superstar when it comes to improving the health of your thyroid. Scientists don’t completely understand how adaptogens work, but we know that they can be extremely effective especially at balancing hormones.
One of the most incredible aspects about adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha is that it can help people with both hypo and hyper thyroid issues. It has been shown to support a sluggish thyroid for people diagnosed with Hashimotos, and has been shown to improve the health of those with an overactive thyroid or Graves disease.
Adaptogenic herbs work with your body to bring you back into balance whether your levels are high or low.
Animal studies reveal ashwagandha has a thyroid hormone balancing effect. In a 20 days study mice were give ashwagandha and their T3 and T4 levels were analyzed along with lipid peroxidation (anti-oxidant protection). Significant increases in serum T4 were found which indicates this herb has a stimulatory effect on a sluggish thyroid.
Also, ashwagandha may benefit thyroid function because it greatly reduced lipid peroxidation by promoting scavenging of free radicals that cause cellular damage. These results prove ashwagandha can be useful in treating hypothyroidism.
There are currently millions of people who struggle with thyroid problems (many who don’t even know it) and ashwagandha may just be the solution they are searching for.
Ashwagandha has also been proven effective in supporting adrenal function helping you overcome adrenal fatigue and chronic stress.
Your adrenal glands are endocrine glands that are responsible for releasing hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) in response to stress on your body.
If your adrenals are overtaxed due to an overabundance of emotional, physical, and mental stress it can lead to a condition known as adrenal fatigue. As you can see from this chart below, if your adrenals become exhausted it can also disrupt your other hormones including progesterone which can cause infertility and lower DHEA which can cause you to age faster.
Medical studies have shown that ashwagandha improves cortisol levels, improves insulin sensitivity and naturally balances hormones. A case study reported a case of a 57-year-old woman with non-classical adrenal hyperplasia. She was treated with ashwagandha for 6 months and after her treatment she saw improvements in 4 adrenal hormone markers including corticoosterone and 11-deoxycortisol which decreased by 69% and 55% respectively, which is a major improvement!
This hormonal improvement was also accompanied by a noticeable reduction in hair loss.
Ashwagandha: holistic "horse power" for hypothyroidism
Sluggishness, joint pain, low libido and memory loss are just some of the more alarming symptoms of hypothyroidism. This, now highly prevalent autoimmune condition where the body's defenses turn on the thyroid with destructive antibodies, causes a slow decline in metabolism, energy and eventually spirit.
Conventional medicine's approach to this disorder is to stimulate the thyroid gland via synthetic replacement of thyroxine (T4), the pivotal thyroid-producing hormone that is converted to totriiodothyronine (T3). T3 is one of the body's most critical hormones, since it governs cellular metabolism of almost all bodily tissues. The most commonly prescribed hypothyroid replacement drug is the synthetic hormone L-thyroxine (Levothyroxine). The thyroid recognizes levothyroxine as "natural" T4 and after careful trial and error under a physician's care, the correct dosage can be achieved to restore and maintain proper bodily metabolism. The only caveat is that the medicine is required for the rest of one's life and the disease is at best managed, but never cured.
So, what if one prefers not to take prescription medicine for a lifetime or is weary of potential long-term side effects? Interestingly, the Ayurvedic (Indian Medicine) herb ashwagandha offers some promise as a natural alternative.
From the Sanskrit, ashwagandha means "horse's scent.” However, in this case, it might be more accurately referred to as "horse's power." The herb is considered an adaptogen, possessing the unique ability to regulate the endocrine system and create a stable metabolic balance. Root extracts from these plants indigenously growing in India, Africa, the Middle East and the Mediterranean are believed to elevate glucose-6-phosphatase activity in the liver and benefit thyroid function. The liver is know known to modulate thyroid hormone activation and deactivation via a system of iodothyronine seleno‐deiodinase enzymes. Increasing insight into the live-thyroid relationship demonstrates that adaptogens such as ashwagandha may regulate bile flow and glucose production, possibly reducing weight gain symptoms often seen with hypothyroid patients.
Because ashwagandha can aid normalization of various pathogenic states without overstimulating or under-stimulating hormones, Ayurvedic practitioners use it to treat both hyper and hypothryoidism. It can reduce kidney and adrenal stress, which can be of great value in balancing thyroid function. Beyond thyroid regulation, ashwagandha has been shown to calm the nervous system, strengthen the immune system and have potential cardio-protective qualities. It is also an excellent source of iron and can increase red blood cell production. Overall, ashwagandha is thought to be safe, although large doses can cause abdominal discomfort and diarrhea. It is not recommended that pregnant women take ashwagandha because of its spasmolytic activity on the uterus.
Ashwagandha can be taken as a powered herbal supplement or as a tablet. This natural alternative to prescription medicine can be quite useful with the right guidance. Be sure to seek the care of an Ayurvedic practitioner and physician before taking ashwagandha. Your doctor can also measure levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) to monitor the effects of ashwagandha on your thyroid and endocrine system.
Other Benefits of Ashwagandha. Ashwagandha also seems to help to regulate HP-Axis dysfunction in some people. Remember that thyroid hormone, as well as the hormones of the adrenals (cortisol, DHEA, etc.) are regulated by the pituitary gland, which in turn is regulated by the hypothalamus. But sometimes there are problems with the communication between the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. And in some cases taking Ashwagandha can help with this. Some studies also have shown that Ashwagandha exhibited an antidepressant effect (12), and also stated that the investigations support the use of this herb as a mood stabilizer in clinical conditions of anxiety and depression.