Ashwagandha and Thyroid Disorders: A Novel Therapeutic Approach
In the UK, hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) is fifteen times more prevalent in women, according to the NHS (1). Suffering from hypothyroidism may contribute to weight gain, tiredness, hair loss, muscle cramps, cold intolerance and fertility problems. The thyroid is responsible for producing hormones (namely TSH, T4 and T3) that are crucial for metabolic and cellular function.
Recent research conducted in India reveals that ashwagandha, a traditional herb in Ayurvedic medicine, may exert therapeutic benefits in individuals with hypothyroidism (2).
Kumar et. al investigated the efficacy of ashwagandha root extract supplementation on thyroid hormone levels in subclinical hypothyroidism patients. Individuals with subclinical hypothyroidism may not experience any symptoms associated with an underactive thyroid. The trial involved administering a daily supplement of 600mg of ashwagandha root extract for a period of eight weeks.
This randomized, double-blind, single-centre placebo-controlled study was performed at Sudbhawana Hospital, Varanasi, India between May 2016 and September 2016.
It was found that ashwagandha significantly improved serum TSH, T3 and T4 levels by 19%, 45% and 21% respectively. These results are in line with research conducted in 2014, where ashwagandha supplementation increased T4 levels in participants.
In conclusion, ashwagandha supplementation may potentially support the treatment of thyroid disorders, particularly in individuals with hypothyroidism. However, as this area of research is quite novel, further human studies are required to support the promising findings observed by A. Kumar et. al.