Ashwagandha and hypothyroidism: Exploring natural options for thyroid health

This article explores the potential benefits of the Ayurvedic herb ashwagandha for supporting thyroid health, particularly for those with hypothyroidism.

Your thyroid, a small butterfly-shaped organ in your neck, plays a crucial role in various bodily functions, including metabolism, bone health, and growth [1]. When it comes to thyroid health, three hormones are essential: thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), triiodothyronine (T3), and thyroxine (T4) [2]. If there’s an imbalance in these hormones, it may indicate thyroid disorders such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism [2]. In this article, we’ll focus on hypothyroidism and explore the potential role of Ashwagandha as a natural alternative.

Hypothyroidism occurs when your thyroid doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone. It can be caused by certain medications, iodine deficiency, or an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis [2]. Common symptoms include weight gain, fatigue, constipation, goiters (enlarged thyroid), and dry skin [2]. On the other hand, hyperthyroidism involves an overproduction of thyroid hormone, leading to symptoms like shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, fatigue, hair loss, and unintentional weight loss [3].

Typically, synthetic medication is used to treat thyroid disorders. However, some individuals may be interested in natural alternatives like Ashwagandha.

Benefits of Ashwagandha for thyroid health

  • Research suggests that ashwagandha root extract may significantly improve thyroid levels in people with hypothyroidism compared to a placebo [4].
  • Ashwagandha extract has been shown to help regulate thyroid hormone levels and improve glucose metabolism, which is often affected in thyroid disease [5].
  • Unlike some medicinal plants, ashwagandha doesn’t contain iodine, which is essential for thyroid hormone production [5].
  • Ashwagandha appears to be more effective in treating mild forms of hypothyroidism (subclinical) rather than advanced cases [5].

It’s important to note that ashwagandha should be used as a complementary therapy alongside conventional treatment for thyroid disease [5]. Withaferin A, a primary active compound in ashwagandha, has been found to stimulate thyroid activity and possess anticancer effects [6,7]. Additionally, its antioxidant properties help normalize thyroid gland function [6, 7].

While synthetic medication remains the standard treatment for thyroid disorders, some individuals may consider incorporating ashwagandha as a natural complementary option. However, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before making any changes to your thyroid treatment plan. Further research is still needed to fully understand ashwagandha’s effectiveness and optimal use in managing thyroid health [5].

Remember, taking care of your thyroid health is essential for overall well-being, and working closely with your healthcare provider is key to finding the most suitable approach for your specific situation.

StudyMethodsKey Findings
Randomized controlled trial with 50 adults with subclinical hypothyroidism [18]300mg ashwagandha root extract vs placebo, twice daily for 8 weeksSignificantly greater increases in serum T4 levels and greater reduction in serum TSH levels in the ashwagandha group compared to placebo
Randomized double-blind study with 98 adults with hypothyroidism [19]One group received 600mg ashwagandha root extract daily. Second group received placebo for 16 weeksAshwagandha group had significant improvements in serum T3 and T4 levels compared to placebo after 16 weeks
Experimental study on rats [20]Hypothyroidism induced rats were given ashwagandha root powder for 20 daysRats treated with ashwagandha showed normalization of serum T3 and T4 levels as well as reduced lipid peroxidation
Review of 6 human studies on ashwagandha and thyroid function [21]Systematic reviewConcluded that ashwagandha helps regulate thyroid hormone levels, with greatest effects seen in milder subclinical hypothyroid cases

FDA prescribed medications for hypothyroidism

When it comes to treating hypothyroidism, the FDA has approved specific medications that can help manage the condition. However, it is important to be aware that like any other drugs, these medications come with potential side-effects. In this article, we have compiled a list of FDA approved drugs for hypothyroidism and their associated possible side-effects [8]. Please note that this list is not exhaustive, and it is crucial to consult a health-care professional before making any decision.

Generic Name



Levothyroxine Treat or prevent goiter Headache, skin rash, sleepiness, gain or loss of weight, nervousness, overdose may cause hyperthyroidism.
Parathyroid hormone Hypothyroidism

Headache, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, pain

Etelcalcetide Secondary hyperparathyroidism Decrease in blood calcium, muscle spasms, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, headache.
Cinacalcet Lowers levels of parathyroid hormone Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, hypertension.
Levothyroxine sodium Hypothyroidism, TSH supression Myocardial infarction, dyspnea, muscle spasm, headache, nervousness, irritability, insomnia, tremors, muscle weakness, increased appetite, weight loss, diarrhea, heat intolerance, menstrual irregularities, skin rash.
Teprotumumab-trbw Thyroid eye disease Muscle spasm, nausea, alopecia, diarrhea, fatigue, hyperglycemia, hearing impairment, dry skin, headache.
Paricalcitol Secondary hyperparathyroidism Diarrhea, dizziness, vomiting, hypertension, hypersensitivity, nausea, edema.

It’s important to remember that this list is not exhaustive, and the side effects mentioned are not guaranteed to occur in every individual. Each person’s response to medication can vary, and consulting a healthcare professional is crucial to understand the specific risks and benefits for your situation.

Before starting or changing any medication for hypothyroidism, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional. They can assess your individual circumstances, consider your medical history, and provide personalized guidance. Your healthcare provider will help you weigh the potential benefits of medication against the possible side effects, ensuring the most suitable treatment plan for you,

Efficacy of Ashwagandha in treatment of hypothyroidism

  • Ashwagandha has shown comparable results to anti-anxiety drugs like Lorazepam, demonstrating its ability to reduce brain markers of clinical anxiety. If you’re experiencing anxiety or anxiety-like symptoms, it could be a sign that your body is struggling to maintain thyroid function [9].
  • Inflammation can have a detrimental impact on thyroid health, impairing hormone production and hindering the effective binding of hormones to receptors. Ashwagandha acts as a shield for your cell membranes, protecting them from damage caused by chronic inflammation [10].
  • Supporting your antioxidant defense system is crucial during times of stress, and ashwagandha provides robust support in this regard. Optimizing your antioxidant intake can be beneficial for your overall health and thyroid function [11, 12].
  • Ashwagandha has been shown to increase white blood cell counts, bolstering your body’s first line of defense against foreign invaders. When faced with long, stressful work days, a little support from ancestral herbal remedies like ashwagandha can go a long way [13].
  • Individuals dealing with prolonged illness can benefit from ashwagandha’s ability to enhance cognitive function and memory. It provides valuable support in such situations [14].
  • Ashwagandha root exhibits GABA-mimicking activity, and the metabolites of its constituents may promote the growth and health of new nerves. This makes it a promising natural option for nerve support [15].
  • Researchers have proposed that the effect of ashwagandha on thyroid hormone levels may be related to the interaction between TSH and cortisol. However, further research is needed in this area. It’s important to note that not everyone with subclinical hypothyroidism requires treatment [16].

Note: Individuals with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the U.S., should avoid taking ashwagandha. Since Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease linked to the immune system, studies suggest that ashwagandha may potentially increase immune system activity, which could worsen the condition [17].

Here is an expanded section on the benefits of ashwagandha for hypothyroidism:

Regulating Thyroid Hormone Levels

  • Several studies have found that ashwagandha can help regulate thyroid hormone levels in people with hypothyroidism. It may help boost serum T4 levels while also normalizing TSH levels.

Controlling Symptoms

  • By regulating thyroid hormones, ashwagandha may help relieve symptoms associated with hypothyroidism like fatigue, weight gain, memory issues and more.
  • One study found that ashwagandha root extract significantly improved measures of fatigue, constipation, memory and anxiety in people with hypothyroidism.
  • Research studies demonstrating benefits for hypothyroidism have used between 300mg to 500mg of standardized ashwagandha extract once or twice per day.
  • It’s best to consult an Ayurvedic practitioner or herbalist for dosage recommendations tailored to your individual needs.

Key Takeaways

  • Ashwagandha shows promise as a supplemental therapy to help manage hypothyroidism symptoms and hormone levels.
  • More research is still needed to confirm optimal dosage and standardized extracts for thyroid health.
  • Ashwagandha should be used under the supervision of a healthcare professional along with conventional treatment.


  1. What is ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic herb that has been used for centuries for its adaptogenic properties. The botanical name is Withania somnifera.

  1. How can ashwagandha help with hypothyroidism?

Research shows ashwagandha can help regulate thyroid hormone levels in people with hypothyroidism, potentially helping to control symptoms like fatigue, weight gain, and cognitive issues.

  1. What’s the recommended dosage of ashwagandha for hypothyroidism?

Studies showing benefits for hypothyroidism have used between 300mg to 600mg of standardized ashwagandha extract once or twice per day. It’s best to consult an herbalist or doctor for dosage recommendations.

  1. Are there any side effects or risks of taking ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha is generally well tolerated by most people. However, some possible side effects can include nausea, diarrhea, and headaches in sensitive individuals. It is not recommended for people with autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

  1. Can I take ashwagandha along with my thyroid medication?

Ashwagandha should only be taken alongside conventional thyroid medication under the supervision of your healthcare provider. Do not alter medication dosage without consulting your doctor.

  1. How soon can I expect to see benefits from taking ashwagandha?

In clinical studies, improvements in thyroid hormone levels and hypothyroid symptoms have been observed after 8-16 weeks of consistent ashwagandha supplementation. Effects may vary for each person.

  1. What’s the difference between hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is caused by an underactive thyroid while hyperthyroidism is caused by an overactive thyroid. Ashwagandha can help with hypothyroidism but should be avoided in hyperthyroidism.

  1. Does ashwagandha contain iodine?

No, ashwagandha does not contain iodine so it will not interfere with thyroid function in that manner. Iodine is needed for proper thyroid hormone synthesis.

  1. Can I take ashwagandha if I have Hashimoto’s disease?

No, ashwagandha should be avoided in autoimmune thyroid conditions like Hashimoto’s. It may potentially stimulate the immune system which could exacerbate the problem.

  1. Should I take ashwagandha in the morning or at night?

Ashwagandha can generally be taken at any time of day. However, some people may prefer taking it at night since it can potentially cause drowsiness. Consult your doctor for specific guidance.


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