Ashwagandha, also known as Withania somnifera or Indian ginseng, has been used for centuries in traditional Ayurvedic medicine- India’s traditional form of medicine. This herb has been used for its calming properties, to help the body adapt to physical and mental stress.
Research has shown that ashwagandha has numerous health benefits. People have benefited from taking this herb for a variety of reasons including reducing blood pressure and improving memory. However, I have seen tremendous benefits of ashwagandha in countless patients suffering with hypothyroidism. Here’s Why:
ASHWAGANDHA IMPROVES THYROID FUNCTION
Recent clinical research has revealed that this amazing herb helps to improve the thyroid function and INCREASE the level of T4 hormone in the human body. Another animal study showed that after just 20 days of taking ashwagandha extract levels of both T3 and T4 hormones increased in the body. I have seen this effect time and again in clinical practice. I typically use a 2:1 liquid extract when addressing the thyroid gland function. Because ashwagandha can be so powerful for the thyroid gland it is very important you check with your doctor before using this herb, especially if you are currently taking thyroid medication.
ASHWAGANDHA BOOSTS MOOD
Many people suffering with low thyroid experience anxiety and/or depression. Studies have shown that ashwagandha can significantly help to reduce anxiety and improve the quality and quantity of sleep. I have seen this effect in practice often. And it seems to me that the ashwagandha tea may be effective for sleep, and the stronger tincture may not be needed if only sleep is being addressed.
ASHWAGANDHA IMPROVES SEX DRIVE
Interestingly enough, Ashwagandha has historically been used to improve libido and increase sexual energy. Not often talked about, low sex drive is a common complaint in people suffering with low thyroid function. Some people historically have called this herb "strength of a thousand stallions". Not bad, right?
Studies have also shown it to be beneficial in preventing cognitive decline and may shown promise in treating and preventing dementia. Futhermore, a 2013 study shown extracts of ashwagandha inhibited the growth of human breast, lung, and colon cancer cell lines in the laboratory.
Ashwagandha has a very bitter and powerful taste. I typically use the tincture form with my patients, as ancient medicinal practices believe the taste to be an important aspect of the medicine. However, ashwagandha is also available in tablet and capsule form.
As always, make sure you check with your healthcare provider before starting any herb or supplement. Additionally, quality really does matter! There are hundreds of different companies selling ashwangandha on the market. If you truly want to use this herb to help your health, make sure you are getting good quality and taking the right dose.
Have you used Ashwagandha before? I would love to hear your thoughts below!
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Gajbhiye NA, Makasana J, Kumar S. Accumulation of three important bioactive compounds in different plant parts of Withania somnifera and its determination by the LC-ESI-MS-MS (MRM) method. Journal of chromatographic science. Nov-Dec 2015;53(10):1749-1756.
Raju S. Withania womnifera (Ashwagandha): Analytical Method Development. http://www.aoac.org/aoac_prod_imis/AOAC_Docs/SPDS/ashwagandha_09052014.pdf. Accessed 7/28/2016.
Jayaprakasam B, Zhang Y, Seeram NP, Nair MG. Growth inhibition of human tumor cell lines by withanolides from Withania somnifera leaves. Life Sci. 2003 Nov 21;74(1):125-3