Ashwagandha: Champion of Stress Adaptation, Thyroid, and Vitality

By Dr. Linda J. Dobberstein, DC, Board Certified in Clinical Nutrition

May 16, 2022

Ashwagandha: Champion of Stress Adaptation, Thyroid, and Vitality
Ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic herb used since 3000 BC in India as a multipurpose tonic for numerous health benefits. Traditionally, it has been used for stress, weakness, and male and female health. Over the years, ashwagandha has been found helpful for much more, including supporting thyroid function, brain and mood, stress tolerance, sleep, athletic recovery, cellular clean-up, and other countless bioactive benefits.

We have used a high purity ashwagandha in Thyroid Helper for more than 25 years with excellent results. It is an amazing herb that helps your body adapt to stressors and boost vitality.

Ashwagandha: A Storehouse of Bioactive Support

Ashwagandha, also known as Indian ginseng, contains several natural compounds, most notably withanolide alkaloids. Additional compounds naturally present include other types of alkaloids, flavonoids, glycosides, phenolics, steroids, and saponins. These compounds provide beneficial bioactive properties that allow it to be a highly valued multi-purpose tonic.

Extensive research on ashwagandha shows its astounding realm of benefits. It acts as an adaptogen to help your body manage numerous stress signals. This includes signals and mechanisms related with tissue comfort as it assists in modulation of NF kappa B, prostaglandins, and serotonin.

Here are some recent clinical studies that further display its credibility as a health aid and champion of herbal adaptogens.

Thyroid Function

A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial published in the March 2018 Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine demonstrated the effectiveness of ashwagandha on sluggish thyroid activity. Individuals were given 600 mg/day of ashwagandha root extract for 8 weeks or a placebo. Results showed enhancement in thyroid gland function and hormone activity with use of the herb.

Stress Relief

Ashwagandha has multiple benefits for improving stress tolerance. It modulates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) and sympathetic nervous system-adrenal connection which helps modulate mood and autonomic nervous system stress effects. This action provides substantial anti-stress effects to the brain and neuroendocrine system.

Ashwagandha has been shown helpful in calming anxious feelings linked with tobacco/nicotine withdrawal due to its supportive effect on GABA - your brain’s primary relaxant neurotransmitter. GABA enhancement by ashwagandha also helps dampen mechanisms related with repetitive, painful thoughts.

In another study, a group of 60 adults were given 240 mg of ashawagandha once per day or a placebo to measure stress tolerance and relief. In this trial, several stress assessments were made on mood, cortisol, DHEA, and testosterone.

Those who received the herb had significant reduction in overall stress levels, improved mood, and lowered blood levels of morning cortisol levels. Testosterone levels were increased in men, but not in women. Study results demonstrated ashwagandha’s beneficial moderating effect on the brain-adrenal (HPA) connection and stress tolerance.

Ashwagandha assists in adaptation and restoration of homeostatic balance between the brain and adrenals, thyroid, and gonads. This helps hormones to “reboot” and reestablish healthy function.

Women’s Health

An 8-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study on perimenopausal women and ashwagandha showed great promise. Women received 300 mg of ashwagandha twice per day or a placebo.

Those who received the herb experienced improvement in mood, insomnia, hot flashes, and genital-urinary concerns. Positive changes occurred with estrogen. Testosterone levels were not affected. Ashwagandha was deemed as a “safe and effective option to relieve mild to moderate climacteric symptoms during perimenopause in women.”

Men’s Health

Ashwagandha has been historically used to enhance muscle endurance, strength, and vitality. A controlled trial evaluated ashwagandha’s effect on resistance training in healthy men age 18-50. Participants were given a placebo or 600 mg per day of ashwagandha for 8 weeks.

Significantly greater muscle strength was noted with arm curls, bench press, and leg-extension exercises. Lab measurements show less exercise-induced muscle damage, increased testosterone levels, and lower body fat percentage.

A comprehensive systematic review study showed that of 13 herbs tested in men, ashwagandha was a top herb for testosterone support.

Metabolism, Cell Modulator and Regenerator

Studies demonstrate that compounds within ashwagandha act as anti-apoptotic (cell death) agents, can block cellular invasion, modulate inflammatory responses, and attenuate cellular mechanisms and compounds involved with irregular cell growth and invasion. It supports and assists with stability of gene expression, cellular metabolics, and is an immunomodulator. Ashwagandha helps cells healthfully regenerate.

Cognitive and Memory Enhancement

Ashwagandha aids nerve and synapse growth and protection. It supports the activity and function of neurotransmitters like acetylcholine, dopamine, serotonin, and GABA.
In an 8-week trial, adults who received 300 mg of ashwagandha twice per day experienced significant cognitive benefits.

Results showed improvements in information processing, immediate memory recall and general memory, processing speed, sustained attention, and executive function, i.e. the ability to plan and solve problems.

Sleep Quality

Several trials on ashwagandha in adults have evaluated its effect on sleep. Improved quality of sleep and better management of insomnia were found in those who used ashwagandha. Other study results showed that less time was needed to get to sleep with use of 300 mg twice per day of ashwagandha.

A first of its kind clinical trial in 2020 evaluated the effect of ashwagandha in individuals who experience non-restorative sleep. This affects about 10 percent of the population and causes significant cognitive and physical fatigue.

Participants received either placebo or 120 mg of standardized ashwagandha extract once per day for six weeks. Results showed that 72 percent of those who received the herb experienced significant improvements in quality of sleep and reduced concerns associated with non-restorative sleep. No adverse effects were experienced.

Athletic Stamina and Recovery

Ashwagandha helps athletic performance in a variety of ways. It enhances nitric oxide production, which supports blood flow and circulation. It helps boost cardiovascular performance, and muscle stamina. Cellular studies show that ashwagandha helps the development of new muscle cells and repair of existing muscle cells.

In a 2021 randomized controlled trial, healthy adult athletes received either placebo or 300 mg of ashwagandha twice per day for 8 weeks. Several measurements of cardio-respiratory health, energy and fitness levels were measured. Those who received ashwagandha experienced faster recovery, improvement in energy, fitness, and antioxidant levels that enhanced cardiovascular and respiratory endurance and quality of life. No side effects were experienced.

Other Benefits

Ashwagandha inhibits growth and reproduction inside cells of various bacteria and fungus like Candida and other rogue cells. It aids in cell protection against oxidative stress and lipid degradation.

Ashwagandha enhances levels of highly important antioxidants like super oxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione. It supports, protects, and enhances the clearance of bilirubin, urea, ammonia, and other compounds related with liver function. It provides protection to the liver and tissues against oxidative stress and insulin resistance related with a high fat diet and obesity.

It boosts blood cells, bone marrow, and provides immune modulating effects.

Safety Profile

Ashwagandha’s safety has been thoroughly tested and documented in the literature. Toxicity studies demonstrate its safety even at massive amounts of 1000 mg/kg and higher.

Wellness Resources Thyroid Helper® contains the standardized extract of Sensoril® Ashwagandha with a dose of 500mg per serving of two capsules.

Ashwagandha may be used with other adaptogenic herbs, traditional spices, or hormonal support like those found in Adrenal Helper, Performa Plus, Turmeric Gold, Cinnamon Plus, Female Plus, and Male Plus.

Ashwagandha is a champion of stress adaptation ranging from cellular, glandular, hormonal, immune modulator, neurotransmitter and neuronal, blood, bone and muscular regenerator, metabolic enhancer, antioxidant and more. It has stood the test of time for over 5000 years with good reason. Enhance your body’s adaptation and regeneration with ashwagandha.

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