Can Ashwagandha Improve Thyroid Health?

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In Brief: Can Ashwagandha Improve Thyroid Health?

Ashwagandha has been proposed to be a thyroid modulator. It may have a beneficial effect on thyroid function by normalizing thyroid indices in subclinical hypothyroid patients.[1] Patients with hyperthyroidism are advised not to consume ashwagandha. However, more studies are required to determine the mechanisms by which ashwagandha modulates the thyroid hormones.

Many people with thyroid dysfunction are seeking herbal products, including ashwagandha, Bauhinia, to support the proper functioning of the thyroid.

Thyroid dysfunction may cause weight gain, hair loss, and brain fog.

With hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland does not create sufficient thyroid hormones. The research studies studying the effect of ashwagandha supplements and thyroid health are insufficient.

Some studies show that ashwagandha helps in treating hypothyroidism by increasing thyroid levels.

A prospective, randomized eight-week Indian study involving 50 subjects showed that ashwagandha root extract (600mg daily) normalized the serum thyroid indices in subclinical hypothyroid patients.

It improved serum thyroid-stimulating hormone and thyroxine (T4) levels significantly compared to the control. [2]

Ashwagandha root extract administered daily for 20 days increased the activity of thyroid enzymes, T3, and T4. It also enhanced the antiperoxidation of hepatic tissue.[3]

An animal study showed that ashwagandha could only increase serum T4 levels without influencing T3 in female mice, whereas Bauhinia purpurea bark extract could increase both T3 and T4 concentrations.[4]

Another study also showed the thyroid enhancing properties of ashwagandha. In the clinical trial,  ashwagandha treatment normalized subclinical hypothyroidism in one of the bipolar patients. Also, three other treated patients had T4 increase from baseline.[5]

Administration of metformin in type II diabetic subjects reduced T4 levels and caused severe hypothyroidism. The ingestion of ashwagandha or Bauhinia with metformin increased the concentrations of T3 andT4.

The study revealed that ashwagandha has the potential to improve metformin-induced hypothyroidism.[6]

As ashwagandha may enhance thyroid hormone levels, it should be avoided in hyperthyroid persons. The increased level of thyroid hormones may cause thyrotoxicosis that is harmful to health.[7]

A case study showed that a 32-year woman developed thyrotoxicosis after taking ashwagandha for chronic fatigue. The symptoms resolved after discontinuing ashwagandha. [8]

Therefore, it is advisable to consult a healthcare practitioner before taking ashwagandha if having thyroid issues. Also, prospective studies are required to determine the effects of ashwagandha on improving thyroid indices.