Have you ever wondered where we get the energy to complete everyday tasks? It starts with the food we eat, namely carbohydrates, fats and protein. But it’s the series of chemical reactions that this food undergoes that ultimately provides us with energy, and this overall process is called metabolism. In order for our metabolism to function in a healthy and balanced way, we need a healthy thyroid gland. Without a well-functioning thyroid, we’re more at risk of a slow metabolism, which can affect energy levels, weight regulation, and body temperature among many other symptoms.
So how can you make sure your thyroid is getting everything it needs to function? Read on to find out.
What is the thyroid and why is it important?
The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck. Its main function is to regulate metabolism, which controls thousands of chemical reactions, but at its core is the transformation of food into energy.
All metabolic processes are carried out by the endocrine system, which produces and releases all the body’s hormones. Hormones produced by the thyroid gland, called T3 and T4, regulate the body’s metabolic rate, controlling heart function, muscular and digestive ability, brain development, and more.
Common thyroid issues: Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism
Hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid gland that produces too little thyroid hormone, slows organ function and can cause sluggishness. Also referred to as low thyroid, this condition affects up to 10% of women, and it can often go undiagnosed.
Early signs and symptoms of low thyroid include:
- Sensitivity to cold
- Aches and pain
- Low appetite
- Dry skin
- Weight gain
Hyperthyroidism, on the other hand, is caused by an overactive thyroid. Affecting about 1% of the population, an overactive thyroid is ten times more rare than low thyroid.
Signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:
- An irregular heartbeat
- Unintended weight loss
- Heat intolerance
How to keep your thyroid healthy
The thyroid gland requires certain nutrients in order to function properly, including selenium, iodine, zinc, and vitamins A, B, and D. When we fall short on these, issues with the thyroid, and by extension metabolism, can occur.
In addition to nutrient deficiencies, thyroid health can be thrown off by lifestyle exposure to contaminants, especially endocrine disruptors like phthalates and BPA. Stress can also be a contributor to thyroid issues. Cortisol, the stress hormone, which gets released as part of the stress response, can lower pituitary function and affect the thyroid hormone loop, which negatively affects thyroid health.
Along with beneficial nutrition and lifestyle tips for thyroid health, there’s one medicinal herb in particular that shows benefits for thyroid health: ashwagandha root, an herb commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine.
What is ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha is a potent adaptogen herb, which acts as a general restorative tonic while supporting overall health. Adaptogens like ashwagandha protect against the damages of stress—be it mental, emotional, physical, or environmental stress—while also supporting metabolic health and thyroid function.
Ashwagandha for thyroid health
Ashwagandha offers many benefits for those looking to support thyroid and a healthy metabolism. It balances cortisol and the stress response and in doing so, it prevents cortisol from interfering with your thyroid hormones, which in turn helps keep them balanced.
Along with reducing the impacts of stress, ashwagandha also supports the HPA axis (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal). This is essential for thyroid health because the regulation of thyroid hormone begins at the hypothalamus, and is then influenced by the pituitary gland and the adrenals.
A double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled trial looked at the impacts of ashwagandha on thyroid health and subclinical hypothyroidism. The participants received 600 mg of ashwagandha daily for 8 weeks. The ashwagandha group had noticeably better serum T3 and T4 measures as well as lowered TSH at the end of the study compared with placebo—all excellent news for those looking to enhance thyroid health!
Choosing an ashwagandha supplement
To help prevent or reverse low thyroid, an ashwagandha supplement should be combined with other thyroid-supporting nutrients like iodine, selenium, and vitamin A. You’ll find these in perfect ratio in Thyroid Plus, a formula specifically designed to support healthy thyroid function in women. Thyroid Plus helps support an under-active or sluggish thyroid, and promotes healthy metabolism and energy levels to help keep you thriving.
Since stress is often a factor in thyroid health, an ashwagandha supplement that focuses on stress relief and adaptogenic benefits can be helpful as well. Adrenal Chill, a custom blend of full-spectrum ashwagandha root extract and L-theanine, a natural amino acid found in plant sources like tea leaves and certain mushrooms, helps increase resistance to stress. This formula helps reduce cortisol, stress, and anxiety and to promote relaxation (without diminishing alertness!).
Ashwagandha has been safely used for thousands of years to support good health and to address a wide range of conditions. If you want to support thyroid health and ensure strong metabolic health, ashwagandha might be just the thing you’re looking for.