What is the Role of the Thyroid?
The thyroid gland is a member of the endocrine system. It is a small gland situated in front of your neck below your larynx or voice box on each side of the windpipe. The thyroid gland draws the iodine from ingested foods and uses it to synthesize the thyroid hormone. This hormone controls brain and body growth, energy levels, body temperature, and metabolism. Thyroid hormones regulate the functions of all the tissues and cells in your body.
The thyroid gland is essential in the production of two hormones: thyroxine, also known as T4, and triiodothyronine, also known as T3. The pituitary gland and hypothalamus have a huge influence on the thyroid gland. The pituitary gland secretes thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) that travels through your blood and stimulates the thyroid gland to produce T4 and T3 hormones.
These hormones control metabolism, protein synthesis, bone growth. Thyroid hormones also increase your body’s reaction to hormones that are released when responding to stressful situations. When you do not have enough T4 and T3 cells, you become hypothyroid; however, when you produce excess T4 and T3 cells, you become hyperthyroid.
Hypothyroid Vs Hyperthyroid
An underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism involves symptoms such as weight gain, depression, constipation, and fatigue. An overactive thyroid or hyperthyroidism involves symptoms such as muscle weakness, irritability, sleeping problems, diarrhea, fast heartbeat, weight loss, and an enlarged thyroid.
An Underactive Thyroid and Liver Damage
The thyroid hormone plays a crucial role in lipid accumulation and metabolism in your liver. Problems with an underactive thyroid are linked to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease also known as NAFLD.
Thyroid Dysfunction and Mental Health Issues
A dysfunction of the pituitary and hypothalamus-thyroid connection leads to bipolar and depressive disorders. In addition, symptoms like memory impairments, depression, and mental slowing occur when one has an underactive thyroid.
What is the Indian Ginseng?
In Sanskrit, the meaning of Ashwagandha is “the smell of a horse”. The herb derives its name from the attributes of a horse- vigor and strength. It has been traditionally used to strengthen the immune system. It is also called the Indian ginseng owing to its ability to improve stamina. The Indian ginseng belongs to the tomato family. It is a shrub that has yellow flowers. It produces red fruit. The herb grows in the dry areas of Northern Africa, the Middle East, and India. Today, it is possible to find this shrub in mild climatic regions such as the U.S.A.
The Indian Ginseng contains many medicinal properties such as alkaloids, fatty acids, withanolides, and amino acids. Although the fruit and leaves of this shrub have therapeutic properties, it is the root of this plant that is mostly used in herbal remedies.
Some of the healing benefits of Ashwagandha for the thyroid include:
- Combating stress
- Boosting the immune system
- Reducing depression and anxiety
- Reducing degeneration of brain cells
- Improving learning and memory
- Lowering cholesterol
- Stabilizing blood sugar
- Promoting sexual potency
The Indian Ginseng and Its Effects on the Thyroid Glands
The Indian Ginseng and the Treatment of Hypothyroidism
Ashwagandha, scientifically known as “withania somniferous” or the Indian Ginseng, has proven helpful in treating an underactive thyroid. The herb stimulates the production of T4 hormone by the thyroid gland, which helps in curing an underperforming thyroid, a condition afflicting people with Hashimotos.
In 2014, a placebo-controlled study was carried out to measure the TSH, T4, T3 levels of patients treated for bipolar disorder using the Indian Ginseng. According to the findings of the study, patients experienced increased levels of T4 while their TSH levels returned to normal. It was concluded that the herb was beneficial in elevating T4 levels, and for its anti-inflammatory, anti-depressant, anti-oxidant, and nerve-protecting properties.
High levels of T4 can cause oxidative stress. When your body is suffering from oxidative stress, you cannot fight free radicals which pose a huge threat to cells. However, the Indian Ginseng is an anti-oxidant that is capable of scavenging free radicals and reducing oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation. Therefore, the herb does not only stimulate your thyroid to produce high levels of T4, it works to control the risks of excess levels of T4.
The Indian Ginseng and the Treatment of Hyperthyroidism
The Withania Somniferous stimulates your thyroid to boost T4 levels and at the same time reduce oxidative stress; this in turn regulates and slows the production of T3, a key player in problems associated with an overactive thyroid. The Indian Ginseng is effective in curing Graves’s disease, a condition arising from an overactive thyroid.
Indian Ginseng and Adrenal Function
The Indian Ginseng also promotes adrenal function by relieving you of chronic stress and adrenal fatigue. The adrenal glands release two essential hormones- adrenaline and cortisol- both of which help your body respond to stress.
When your adrenals become overburdened by emotional, mental, or physical stress, you suffer from adrenal fatigue. Studies show that the Indian Ginseng boosts cortisol levels by improving your body’s sensitivity to insulin and maintaining the natural balance of hormones.
Indian Ginseng and Brain Function
Physical, emotional, and chemical stress can have damning effects on the nervous system. Research has shown that the Indian Ginseng protects your brain from degeneration, improves symptoms of anxiety, Alzheimer’s, and depression. One of the reasons this herb is effective in improving brain function is due to its ability to destroy the free radicals associated with aging.
The Indian Ginseng is a traditional herb that is popular for its numerous health benefits. This herb is known to cure almost all the conditions affecting the human body. One of the main areas associated with this ayurvedic shrub is the treatment of problems affecting thyroid function.