Ashwagandha and Thyroid | Eliminate Autoimmunity
Thyroid health in the United States is suffering significantly. The latest statistics from the American Thyroid Association (ATA) show that an “estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease.” Some estimates show that this number could be even higher (over 30 million suffering from a thyroid disease). In this article, we will discuss Ashwagandha and thyroid to help eliminate autoimmunity.
Additionally, it is also thought that about 60% of individuals with a thyroid disease are not even aware of their condition. One reason for this lack of proper diagnosis and treatment is the deficiency of awareness that many have about the importance of a balanced thyroid gland. For those who have a thyroid disease, daily activities can quickly suffer due to the resulting symptoms.
Hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) and hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid) are the two most common types of thyroid disease. Other thyroid conditions include goiters (an enlargement of the thyroid gland), Graves’ disease (an autoimmune disorder that is a form of hyperthyroidism), and thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid).
With the many issues that can occur with the thyroid, it is essential to use natural methods to protect this powerful gland. When it comes to the most effective options available, the use of Ashwagandha for thyroid health is one of the best choices.
The importance of a healthy thyroid
Before diving into the use of Ashwagandha for thyroid health, it’s important to first understand why the thyroid is so critical. Since it is not as commonly discussed as other parts of the body, it can be easy to forget about this small, yet powerful gland. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that can be found at the base of the neck. While you have likely gone most of your life without giving much thought to this part of the body, there are many reasons it deserves your attention.
Hormones produced by the thyroid (T3 and T4) are responsible for helping regulate breathing, cholesterol levels, body temperature, metabolism, heart rate, and more. In fact, these hormones are thought to interact with nearly all cells in the body. Additionally, when levels of your thyroid hormones become imbalanced, fatigue and other problematic symptoms can occur.
Therefore, when thyroid dysfunction occurs, a number of functions in the body can suffer.
What is thyroid dysfunction?
As stated above, the two primary forms of thyroid dysfunction are hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Each of these conditions stems from either the underproduction (hypothyroidism) or overproduction (hyperthyroidism) of T3 and T4 hormones. Both thyroid conditions can take a significant toll on the body, mainly because symptoms have the potential to disrupt one’s daily activities.
Those who suffer from hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can have slightly different experiences since the severity largely depends on the exact deficiency or excess levels of T3 and T4.
Some of the symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
- Unexplained weight gain
- Dry skin
- Lower than normal heart rate
- Thinning hair
- Impaired memory
- Changes to menstrual cycle
- Brittle nails
- Feeling cold
Alternatively, those who suffer from hyperthyroidism may experience the following symptoms:
- Racing heartbeat and heart palpitations
- Increased appetite
- Unexplained sweating
- Anxiety and mood swings
- Changes to menstrual cycle
- Unexplained weight loss
- Puffy eyes
- Panic attacks
- Muscle weakness
What are the primary causes of thyroid dysfunction?
While not fully understood, thyroid dysfunction can have many different root causes. Hypothyroidism may be the result of an autoimmune disease, medications, hyperthyroidism treatments, congenital disease, thyroid surgery, pregnancy, or an iodine deficiency. Hyperthyroidism, on the other hand, has a much smaller list of potential causes. It is thought that various conditions (such as Plummer’s disease, toxic adenoma, and thyroiditis) can lead to the development of hyperthyroidism.
Even minor imbalances in your T3 and T4 levels can produce noticeable changes in your day-to-day functioning. Because of this, it is crucial to do everything you can to keep your thyroid healthy and to have your current T3 and T4 levels checked for possible imbalances.
A deeper look at Ashwagandha
Although you’ve likely heard of this herb before, you may not know the history and functions of Ashwagandha. It is a popular supplement to see on the shelves of health food stores and vitamin stores, but it is far from a modern-day invention. The herb actually has roots in ancient culture (more specifically, in India, Northern Africa, and in the Middle East). Ashwagandha (also known as Withania somnifera) is a powerful herb that has been used by healers for thousands of years.
While it was first grown in India, Northern Africa, and in the Middle East, Ashwagandha can now be found growing around the world. It has primarily been utilized by Ayurvedic practitioners for its restorative and immune boosting properties. This herb (which is a member of the same family as tomatoes) is also known as an adaptogenic herb (or an adaptogen). Adaptogens are known for their ability to help the body stabilize and protect itself against various stressors. Other popular adaptogenic herbs include maca root, licorice, and rhodiola.
The benefits of Ashwagandha reach all parts of the body. From lowering cholesterol, to reducing the effects of stress, this herb can be a remarkable tool for wellness. Additionally, the impact of Ashwagandha on thyroid function has received significant attention because of the incredible healing properties that have been discovered. When it comes to correcting the imbalances present in hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, ashwagandha is one of the best natural herbs available.
Ashwagandha and thyroid function
Numerous scientific studies have shown that Ashwagandha improves thyroid function. The herb interacts with each thyroid condition in a way that supports balance and restoration of proper function. Individuals who suffer with hypothyroidism can benefit from taking Ashwagandha because of its ability to naturally stimulate the production of thyroid hormones. It remedies the incorrect process that occurs between the pituitary gland and the thyroid stimulating hormone. More specifically, Ashwagandha has consistently demonstrated its ability to produce more of the T4 hormone.
Surprisingly, the same herb that has been shown to stimulate the production of thyroid hormones can also balance an overproduction of these same hormones. The use of Ashwagandha in the treatment of hyperthyroidism is shown to be effective in many studies.
Often times, excess production of the T3 hormone is the cause of the common symptoms of hyperthyroidism. Because Ashwagandha lowers oxidative stress and boosts T4 levels, the overproduction of T3 is slowed dramatically. This often results in the relief of symptoms commonly associated with hyperthyroidism.
Ashwagandha and thyroid function are clearly linked in a way that should be encouraging for those who experience thyroid dysfunction. Those who are looking for a natural way to support healthy levels of thyroid hormones should absolutely consider Ashwagandha for thyroid imbalances. This herb is easy to include as part of almost any wellness routine, and can result in additional benefits that are not related to Ashwagandha and thyroid function.
Ashwagandha and Autoimmunity
Aside from the clear advantages of Ashwagandha for the thyroid, this adaptogen has dozens of other health benefits. After taking one look at the list of many possible virtues of Ashwagandha, it is clear why this herb has been used to treat illness for the past 3,000 years. One study, in particular, looked at the way Ashwagandha affects the immune system. It was discovered through this study (and others) that the herb can actually balance autoimmunity and reduce inflammation.
Some of the top health and wellness benefits individuals can expect to see while taking Ashwagandha include the following:
- Balance blood sugar levels
- Enhance learning and memory abilities
- Lower cholesterol levels
- Anti-cancer benefits
- Help alleviate depression symptoms
While taking Ashwagandha for thyroid health may be your initial motivation, it can also be taken to support overall wellness. This is especially true if you are looking to correct any of the above conditions/symptoms in conjunction with decreasing symptoms of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism.
Should I start taking Ashwagandha for thyroid health?
The decision to start taking Ashwagandha for thyroid health (or for any other condition) is a personal decision. There are many compelling reasons to use an Ashwagandha supplement, especially since there are so few restrictions on who can safely take this herb.
Although it isn’t an overnight cure by any means, using Ashwagandha for thyroid function is a wonderful way to support your body’s natural processes over time. Rather than covering up symptoms with medications that do not address the root cause (an underproduction or overproduction of thyroid hormones), you can help your body recover naturally.
Most Ashwagandha supplements that are found in stores have general guidelines for consumption. However, for best results, you may need more or less depending on your individual needs and thyroid hormone levels. Prior to beginning a regimen of Ashwagandha for thyroid health, it is best to have your individual hormone levels tested and evaluated.
If you have questions about using Ashwagandha or other herbs for hypothyroidism and you would like to learn more about supporting your autoimmunity through natural techniques, set up a consultation today!