Updated: Nov 14, 2019
Ashwagandha, also known as Indian Ginseng, is an Indian herb that has been used for thousands of years. Ashwagandha, like several other herbs, is an adaptogen, meaning it helps the body overcome physical and mental stress. When stress knocks the body out of whack, adaptogens help the body overcome it, bringing the body back into homeostasis so it can function properly.
I came across ashwagandha while searching for herbs and supplements to help with thyroid function. Adaptogenic herbs in general are known to support an under-active thyroid and have been proven in studies to help boost TSH and T4 levels in patients with hypothyroidism.
However, because this herb is known to boost thyroid function, it is not recommended for those with Graves disease or hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid).
The more I learned about Ashwagandha the more I realized just how many benefits this herb has. Not only is it proven to improve thyroid function, but it can reduce stress, relieve adrenal fatigue, combat anxiety and depression, improve ADHD symptoms, and boost immune function.
In a 2012 study on the effects of ashwagandha on anxiety, 64 subjects took either 300 mg of ashwagandha root or a placebo twice daily for two months. The group receiving the ashwaganda root reported significantly reduced anxiety compared to the placebo group. The root has also been known to reduce cortisol levels, the stress hormone that increases with stress and causes several cognitive side effects such as fatigue, brain fog, and reduced memory.
The reason ashwagandha is so calming to the nervous system is because it naturally stimulates the brain’s GABA pathways. GABA is a neurotransmitter that can promote calmness, reduce inflammation, improve sleep, boost mood, and reduce depression.
Ashwagandha has traditionally been used in Ayurvedic medicine to promote longevity, happiness, vitality, and overall well being. From sleep support and cognitive function, to endocrine support and reproductive health benefits, ashwagandha can help a lot of people. This has minimal side effects and can be a great supplement for people who need a little extra focus and calming throughout their day.
I’ve recommended this to friends with anxiety and ADHD and have heard great feedback. In some cases, under physician supervision, people are even able to get off their depression and anxiety medication while taking ashwagandha in combination with other more natural supplements.
It is important to note that ashwagandha may not be good for everyone. If any side effects such as upset stomach, diarrhea, and vomiting occur, you should stop the herb right away. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not take ashwagandha and people should consult with a physician before taking it if they are on medications for blood pressure, diabetes, or thyroid, or take immunosuppressants or sedatives. You should also consult a doctor before taking ashwagandha if you have an autoimmune disease are about to have surgery.
Overall, ashwagandha is a powerful adaptogen that has been used medicinally for thousands of years. Hundreds of studies have proven the beneficial and healing properties of ashwagandha especially its support for an under-active thyroid, anxiety, depression, cognitive dysfunction, and stress.