Consider the controversy of using Ashwagandha root for thyroid health

Monday, April 11, 2011 by: Alex Malinsky aka RawGuru
Tags: Ashwagandha, thyroid, health news

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(NaturalNews) The roots of Ashwagandha, scientifically referred to as Withania Somnifera, are deeply embedded in ancient Indian Ayurvedic medicine. Extracts from Ashwagandha roots, which are grown in India, Africa, the Middle East and the Mediterranean, are claimed to provide medicinal benefits by reducing stress, inflammation, and cancer-causing agents and by improving cardiovascular, central nervous system and endocrine, and thyroid hormonal health. But do the conflicting scientific reports mean that Ashwagandha is perhaps too wild for proper thyroid health? If so, what may Ashwagandha be used for?

Everyone has a thyroid gland, a butterfly shaped gland in the front of the neck, which is part of the endocrine system producing hormones for regulation of all organ systems in the body. The thyroid hormones, which are released into the blood, travel throughout the body controlling heart, liver, kidney, brain, immune and skin systems, as well as metabolism.

Those with hyperthyroidism experience an overproduction of hormones; those with hypothyroidism suffer a deficiency. Patients with thyroid issues sometimes seek relief from Ashwagandha root; whereby, certain components of the root increase glucose-6-phosphatase function in the liver, thereby increasing thyroid function, according to various holistic practitioners.

From animal studies with mice, researchers at D.A. University in Indore, India suggest that Ashwagandha root extracts have the ability to stimulate thyroid hormones. Basically, the data suggests that Ashwagandha increases serum concentrations of thyroid hormones; thus, one case study states that excessive hormonal effects, or thyrotoxicosis, may be quite a serious side effect of the root. This may mean that those suffering hypothyroidism will temporarily suffer hyperthyroidism and vice versa. Studies also provide evidence that ceasing supplementation corrects thyrotoxicosis.

While Ashwagandha has not been extensively studied for thyroid health to date, some patients say that short-term use of Ashwagandha, or its periodic use, provides relief from symptoms of hypothyroidism, most notably chronic fatigue and decreased sexual libido. All reports advise caution while supplementing with Ashwagandha, as there is simply not enough scientific evidence to support its continued, chronic use. It is necessary to work closely with a medical practitioner before, during and after a decision to implement Ashwagandha usage for thyroid health.

Other animal studies provide information that Ashwagandha root extracts stimulate the cells of the immune system, decrease swelling and increase brain function, or memory capacity. Historic Indian Ayurvedic medical practitioners often touted Ashwagandha as an adaptogen, i.e. an herbal remedy which defeats the ill effects of stress and boosts overall wellness. Typical dosing remains at 3-6 grams of the dried root per day and may be purchased in capsule, powder, tincture, or tea formats.

Ashwagandha, which means horse's odor in the ancient Indian Sanskrit language, is currently the subject of conflicting evidence for its use in regulating or treating thyroid issues. Nevertheless, Ashwagandha root remains on the cutting edge of new scientific breakthroughs for medical treatments of thyroid and other health issues.

Studies already completed provide evidence that Ashwagandha helps in easing drug withdrawal symptoms and in reducing anxiety and painful arthritis of the knees. Ongoing studies for Ashwagandha use in Tuberculosis, Parkinson's Disease, Bone Cancer, Bipolar Disorder, and Diabetes patients are either currently underway or recently completed.

[Editor`s Note: NaturalNews is strongly against the use of all forms of animal testing. We fully support implementation of humane medical experimentation that promotes the health and wellbeing of all living creatures.]


About the author

Alex Malinsky aka RawGuru is an award winning chef and one of the leading experts in the field of raw food. He started to learn about raw foods at the early at of 15. After 10 years on the raw food diet he continues to be on the cutting edge of nutritional research and product development. Visit Alex's website at: for more information.

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