06 Dec

Ashwagandha and Thyroid Function

Of my 17 years working at The Big Carrot, I have spent the last 13 as a co-operative owner and in-store nutritionist. It has been a passionate journey full of food experiments and great friendships. I am on leave right now so I can pursue writing and television, but I only live two blocks away so it is still my 'home away from home'.
My brilliant friend Frances (nicknamed as Ashwagandha in the store) is an herbalist and co-operative owner of The Big Carrot. He knows everything about the 'energetics' of herbs and his generosity overflows. Every time I see him he gives me one more herb to use in the kitchen.
Ashwagandha, pronounced Ah-sh-wa-gan-dah (aka Indian Gingseng) is such an appropriate name for Frances because the herb is regarded as an adaptogen (an herb that helps you adapt to stress while enhancing your energy). That would be Frances in a nutshell. He seems to get younger every time I see him.

The root of ashwagandha contains flavonoids that are anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, anti-stress, antioxidant, mind-boosting, and immune-enhancing. My interest in Ashwagandha was first piqued when researching my book Meals That Heal Inflammation. A 2008 study showed that when combined with GLS (glucosamine sulfate) ashwagandha could protect against inflammation and cartilage damage associated with osteoarthritis. (1)

Recently I started to take Ashwagandha because it boosts thyroid function. There is a history of low thyroid in my family (my mom, aunt and grandma are all on Synthroid). I want to get pregnant this year and I know it is very important to have my TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) under 2. TSH is made in the pituitary gland and tells the thyroid to work harder. If the TSH is high it means the thyroid function is low. In my case the TSH level was creeping up over 3.5. I knew it had to turn it around quickly to assure a healthy pregnancy and avoid my genetic fate! Mr Ashwagandha gave me a fun way to reduce my TSH.

Here is his recipe. Mix 2 TB of Ashwagandha powder with 1/3 cup of raw coconut butter and 1.5 to 2 Tbsp honey. It makes a paste that is so tasty and easy to enjoy. I find it as addictive as chocolate! I know that may sound strange, as it is a bitter root but let’s remember that cocoa is very bitter before a sweetener is added.

If you struggle with low thyroid function and are looking for some natural supplemental support, I suggest Thyrosense by Preferred Nutrition. It contains Tyrosine, the amino acid that makes up the backbone of the thyroid hormones; it also contains iodine, the essential mineral that the thyroid uses to make T3 and T4. Besides the wonderful ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), it also has Guggul (Commiphora mukul) extract that helps with the conversion of T4 to the active T3. I take 2 capsules with breakfast and one after lunch but I suggest you speak with your health care practitioner to find the correct dose for you.
The great news is my TSH is now down to 2.5 and continues to move into balance. I reduced it from 3.5 to 2.5 in 30 days.

1 in 10 women have thyroid dysfunction. I did not have any symptoms except cold hands and feet but many women with low thyroid suffer from weight gain, fatigue, poor concentration, anxiety, dry hair and brittle nails and even insomnia. I suggest everyone have their TSH checked to ensure they can balance thyroid function naturally if needed. It is a shame that most women do not know they have a problem until their TSH is well over 5. By that time your doctor will most likely suggest a thyroid drug like Synthroid. Your doctor may not tell you your TSH number unless you ask directly. They will often say it is normal but it could still be low functioning. When the TSH is low but still in normal range, natural remedies like ashwagandha and Thyrosense can really work their magic.

(1) Sumantran VN, Chandwaskar R, Joshi AK, Boddul S, Patwardhan B, Chopra A, Wagh UV. "The relationship between chondroprotective and antiinflammatory effects of Withania somnifera root and glucosamine sulphate on human osteoarthritic cartilage in vitro." Phytotherapy Research 2008 22(10):1342-8.


# Guest 2012-01-07 13:23
Excited to hear about the great results you have achieved so far!
Love Frances' recipe too. I make one that is similar with addition of nut butters like almond or cashew. Yes...it's addictive.
Eat your medicine! Thanks for sharing!
# Julie Daniluk 2012-01-11 22:19
Yummy! Thanks for the feedback Carol!
# Guest 2012-01-07 23:52
Thanks for sharing this fantastic information Julie! I will be finding some of your suggestions asap! My thyroid went crazy due to pregnancy and 3yrs later still isn't stable! Here's hoping!
# Julie Daniluk 2012-01-11 22:20
Hi Sarah,

Let me know how you do :-) If you still need help I have a name of a great ND in Toronto.
# Guest 2012-10-18 22:00
Hi Julie,
Excited to share with you that I just got some blood work back and after taking ashwagandha my TSH is now in the normal range. I'm feeling healthy again, perhaps the first time since my pregnancy! Thanks for providing such great information! Sarah
# Guest 2012-01-18 13:06
Wow, this info is really awesome! I have been on Synthroid for about 5 years now as my thyroid went crazy too after pregnancy. I did not look into any alternatives to synthroid before but now I am so happy to come across your article and for sure I am going to ask my doctor about my TSH number :)
# Julie Daniluk 2012-01-18 16:48
Hi Florina,

Thanks for the wonderful feedback! I hope you can resolve your thyroid problem very soon. If you need a referral for a natural MD let me know.
+1 # Guest 2012-01-23 16:18
Hi Julie,

I've always had a problem with hypothyroidism since I was a teenager. My doctor sent me to get an ultrasound done. The results showed I have benign cysts or multinodular thyroids. He said I don't need to be on medication but I do have some of the symtoms associated with hypothyroidism. Will Thyrosense help in this case?
# Julie Daniluk 2012-01-23 17:10
Hello Indi,

In your case I would be sure to check with a holistic medical doctor or naturopathic doctor before starting Thyrosense.

If you need a referral in the Toronto area, please let me know.

Cheers, Julie
# Guest 2012-06-13 22:19
Hi Julie,

How much of the prepared ashwagandha recipe do you eat daily? Is it safe to consume for those on synthroid?

Do you know a good ND in Edmonton, AB?

Recently purchased your book and looking forward to trying many of the recipes.

Thanks a bunch!

Julie J
# Julie Daniluk 2012-06-15 16:56
Hello Julie,

If you are taking synthroid, it is best to contact a Naturopathic Doctor for a full workup prior to using ashwagandha.

Kind regards,
# Guest 2012-07-25 20:07
Dear Julie,

Where can you buy ashwagandha in Hamilton, Ontario?
Can you buy ashwagandha only in a Natural Food Store?
Where does it originate from?
# Julie Daniluk 2012-07-25 20:37
Hi Kim,

Thanks for writing in. You can purchase Ashwaganda from The Goodness Me store in Hamilton as well as the Horn of Plenty in Dundas. It originates from India.

Kind regards,

+1 # Guest 2012-10-09 13:38
Hi Julie,
I also have hypothyroidism and I just want to fix it. I am currently taking Armour. Do you have a ref for a naturopathic doctor in the fort. lauderdale, Florida area pls?
# Julie Daniluk 2012-10-09 18:04
Hello Catherine,

Unfortunately I do not have a referral for your area.

Sorry about that.

Cheers, Julie
# Guest 2012-10-17 09:21
Hi Julie,
I have jsut had my annual check up and blood test and found out that my TSH is at 4.2, You know, I never even knew that the routine blood work included the TSH test; this time I asked to have it checked as I had a suspicion that I may have this problem. I have started taking the supplement and add Ashwagandha to my protein shakes. Seeing how quickly you achieved your results gives me hope that I would be able to get it under control. Once you reach your goal of bringing your TSH below 2, what's next? Would you continue taking the supplement to maintain your TSH at that level? And how low is too low, what happens if one does get it too low?
# Julie Daniluk 2012-10-18 20:33
Hi Janna,

It is important to maintain a dose to keep your thyroid supported. You can take a lower dose so your TSH does not continue to go down but in my experience when I took a break from the supplement, my TSH started to creep up.

If you want a great ND to help you monitor your hormonal levels and work on permanent solutions, I suggest seeing my Naturopathic Doctor, Kate Wharton
246 Albaby Avenue, Toronto, Ontario

Cheers, Julie
# Guest 2012-10-28 11:04
Julie, thank you for your reply. I live in Oak Ridges, can you recommend an ND in the northern parts of GTA - Richmond Hill, Aurora, Newmarket?
# Guest 2012-11-23 22:13
Hi Julie,
My TSH is at 5,82 and T4 at 12,57. I'm 50 with no menopause symptoms yet.
I'll be having another blood test in a few weeks to see if I have Hashimoto's disease. In the meantime I'm taking Ultimate Vegan anti-Stress (with lemon balm and ashwagandha) as you suggested on the Marilyn Denis Show. If I don't have the H. disease, are my results too high for natural supplements? Is Synthroid unavoidable?
Thanks a lot, your knowledge of holistic health is very impressive.
# Julie Daniluk 2012-11-25 13:02
Hello Suzie,

I would suggest consulting a Naturopathic Doctor for specific medical advice. It is difficult for me to assist you without a full Nutritional Consultation when dealing with serious medical issues.

Cheers, Julie
# Julie Daniluk 2012-11-25 13:02
Hello Janna,

Sorry I didn't see this response until now. I don't know of a ND in the northern area of the GTA but Dr. Kate is well worth the trip.

Cheers, Julie
+1 # Guest 2013-03-01 15:46
I wish ThyroSence (ThyroSmart) did not have the iodine or has some selenium as Studies http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0950351X88800557 show that 90% of people with hypothyroidism are producing antibodies to thyroid tissue. Espesially if it runs in a family. And iodine supplementation in this case may triggers an immune response characterized by proliferation of T lymphocytes, a disrupted Th1/Th2 axis, and altered CD4/CD8 levels - See more at: http://perfecthealthdiet.com/2011/05/iodine-and-hashimotos-thyroiditis-part-i/#sthash.Anep0R8P.dpuf
-1 # Julie Daniluk 2013-03-01 17:26
Hello Irina,

This is excellent feedback. Could you forward this comment directly to Preferred Nutrition? I feel it is worthwhile information.


Thank you,
# Guest 2013-03-01 20:34
I have to tell you that hypothyroidism can be a sign of thyroid cancer. My husband had it and alot of patients start with a low thyroid or multiple nodules, so people need to be careful taking supplements without checking their thryroids with an ultrasound. I don't mean to sound grim, but thyroid cancer is on the rise and I want to get the word out.
# Julie Daniluk 2013-03-02 03:53
Hello Lucy,

What you say is true. It is very important that someone who is looking to treat any serious medical condition to seek the advice of their primary health practitioner. A Naturopathic Doctor or Holistic Medical Doctor has been trained to look for the contra-indications of herbs and other holistic treatments in relation to allopathic medications and treatments.

An excellent example of this is my nephew who has a kidney transplant. There many holistic treatment and herbs that are contra-indicated for his current treatment. Herbs such as Echinacea simulate the immune system and his immune system must remain suppressed to keep a kidney transplant.

Thank you for your comment, Julie
# Guest 2013-03-04 11:04
Hi Julie,
I also have hypothyroidism and take Synthroid. Can I add Thyrosense?
# Julie Daniluk 2013-03-04 11:48
Hi Johanne,

This is a question you would need to ask your Naturopathic Doctor or Holistic Medical Doctor.

Cheers, Julie
# Guest 2013-04-24 15:32
Hi Julie,

Am new to this forum,you are so helpful in providing lot of information for people who have problems with Thyroid interaction with Ashwagandha.
I have a Thyroid since I came USA,I never had Thyroid before when I was in my Home country.
Doctors found in the beginning of year 2012 that I have Thyroid ,now my Thyroid levels are in range and everything came to normal last month since I started using Synthroid 88 mcg medication.
now my Question is will it be ok If I take Ashwaganda (Withania somnifera) along with Synthroid medicine.does it effects my Thyroid levels by any chance.please need your advice.
I appreciate everyone if they provide any suggestions.
# Julie Daniluk 2013-04-24 15:56
Hello Rani,

It is possible to take Ashwaganda while on Synthroid but it is very important to speak to a naturopathic doctor or holistic medical before starting. Every person is different and you need the guidance of a personal practitioner to help you make this choice.

Hope that helps!

Cheers, Julie
# Guest 2013-04-24 16:57
I appreciate your quick response,ok I will contact naturopathic doctor.
but please can you tell me when am taking Synthroid 88mcg how much qunatity of Ashwagandha powder I need to take daily.because I want to make sure that because of overdosage (synthroid and Ashwagandha daily)
there should not be too much thyroid hormone in my body, and that might increase the effects and side effects of thyroid hormone.
please help me
# Julie Daniluk 2013-04-25 21:17
Hello Rani,

Unfortunately I cannot tell you how much Ashwaganda to take for your specific condition. I am a nutritionist not a medical or naturopathic doctor. I cannot treat, diagnosis or prescribe. It is best that you consult with your ND for this information.

Cheers, Julie
# Guest 2013-04-28 13:43
HI Julie!
I am interested to try your ashwaganda/coconut butter/honey paste! It sounds so yummy! It's so great to hear that you have had success in lowering your TSH levels. How much of the paste do you eat daily?
# Julie Daniluk 2013-04-30 08:39
Hello AshleyM,

Thanks for writing in!
The amount of Ashwaganda to include in your diet should be determined by your naturopathic doctor.

Cheers, Julie
# manjula 2013-09-14 11:57
Hi Julie
nice to read your experiment with aswa ganda. For a couple of years I have been having multinodular thyroid. But I am not under any medications, as clinically my harmone levels seemed to be normal, though my TSH is found above 4. The endocrinologist said there is no need for medications- just watch, thats all. I do have symptoms of fatigue, dry skin, brittle hair , swelling of neck, sometimes etc. recently My TSH was found to be 5.20. yet the doctor says- no medicine. what do I do? can I take aswaganda? I have bought ashwa ganda capsules manufactured by himalaya company. But i was afraid of using it, lest it might aggravate my thyroid condition. After reading your article, i thought i should try. please advice.
# Julie Daniluk 2013-09-14 19:28
Hello Manjula,
It is very difficult for me to answer these personal and detailed questions without your medical history. I would advice seeking the advice of a Naturopathic Doctor or Holistic Medical Doctor.

If you are interested in a personal consultation, here is some more information: https://www.juliedaniluk.com/nutritional-consultation.html

Cheers, Julie
# manjula 2013-09-15 03:16
thanks for your response. i shall meet a naturopath, and get back to you
# Hari Nath 2013-09-23 10:44
Hi Julie,
The following website may be of interest to your readers. I had a miraculous survival using Ashwagandha; basically curing the side effect of chemotherapy drugs but I believe it has properties to fight cancers by boosting our immune system which fights cancer in a natural way. I am absolutely fine and working again after a 1-1/2 year's ordeal.


Hari, New Zealand (currently working in Ghana, W. Africa)
# Julie Daniluk 2013-09-25 12:52
Thanks so much for writing in Hari!
This is very inspiring. I will look into this further.
Wishing you well,
# Kathy Ol 2014-03-19 17:04
Hi Julie,

I was wondering if Ashwaganda in tincture would give same or similar results in low thyroid?
Thank you
# Julie Daniluk 2014-03-24 13:39
Hi Kathy,

Tinctures can be used with great effect but for specific doses, you would need to check with a Naturopathic Doctor or Holistic Medical Doctor.

Cheers, Julie
# Adee 2014-12-20 07:26
I would like to know what you have against Synthroid?Why is taking hormone that will correct hypothyroid hurt me and why is Ashwaganhha better?
# Julie Daniluk 2014-12-22 21:55
Hello Adee,

Thank you for writing in. I am not agains Synthroid if it is the only thing that can help you. It is just best to have your own body be able to make your own thyroid hormone instead of relying on a drug for the rest of your life.

Ashwaganda is a wonderful herb that balances thyroid and also boosts libido and reduce stress hormones. For a complex medical issue such as this, it is best to consult a Holistic Medical Doctor or Naturopathic Doctor for personalized advice.

Cheers, Julie
# Karen M 2014-12-23 20:38
Hi Julie
Thank you for this information about ashwaganda and the recipe. I have some but have not been using it regularly, although I have been dealing with additional stress in my life recently. So I will try your recipe, and take it regularly. I love your maca truffles, too.
And although I have had a rough fall, and not been as physically active as usual, I have continued to lose weight, 32 lbs in 5 months! I love your food plan, pyramid, menus, etc. I am a convert! And I appreciate your suggestions and recipes in your newsletter.
# Julie Daniluk 2015-01-05 09:56
Thank you so much for writing in Karen,

Great to hear of you success!

Keep up the great work.

Warm regards, Julie
# Donna 2015-02-26 14:03
Hi Julie,

I'm 58 years old and I've been on thyroid since my last baby I was around 30. Is this something I can start trying to control myself after this many years? I hate that I have to depend on a pill if I can treat myself I would prefer to try. From your previous comments its sounds like you will refer me to a naturalpath. My doctor is close to The Big Carrot could you give me a recommendation for one?
# Julie Daniluk 2015-03-01 17:34
Hi Donna,

I would recommend seeing Bryce Wylde through the P3 clinic in Toronto: http://p3health.net/#gallery-details-bryce-wylde

His work in hormonal/thyroid balance could be very helpful.

Cheers, Julie
# Summer 2015-03-06 05:21
Do you have any info on safety of Ashwagandha during pregnancy? My dr doesn't know and I can't find much published. Thanks! !
# Julie Daniluk 2015-03-07 04:40
Hi Summer,

Unfortunately I can't give this type of advice over the internet. I would not want to take the risk with a pregnant mother. I can recommend a doctor in the Toronto region that can do a consultation and give you this advice.

Wishing you all the best, Julie
# Joanne 2015-06-08 16:02
Had thyroid ablation two years ago. Had afib event due to undiagnosed hyperthyroidism by a lax GP! Now seeing endo. Trying to balance thyroud. Tests say normal. But I have sweats and severe anxiety. Can I take ashwagandha safely to control,anxiety. Endo forget - he is too arrogant to ask.
# Julie Daniluk 2015-06-16 09:33
Hello Joanne,

I am sorry to hear about your diagnosis. It is very frustrating to deal with a doctor that won't take the time to listen and investigate. Unfortunately your condition is too complicated to comment on in the casual environment of a website. I would recommend seeing a ND or Holistic MD for a complete work-up. I would not recommend taking ashwagandha until you have your hormone levels checked.

Have your TSH levels done again and watch for:
1. Note the level of your Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH). The normal range .3 to 3.
2. If the TSH level is below .3, your doctor may determine that you are hyperthyroid (overactive thyroid.)
3. If the TSH level is above 3, your doctor may determine that you are hypothyroid (underactive thyroid.) You want to have a level from 1.5 to 2.5 for optimum health.

Kind regards, Julie
# chant 2015-06-10 23:57

I have started to take Ashwagantha standardized root extract along with Thyroiden (which provided by my practitioner). Do you recommended the powder or supplement for a full effect?
# Julie Daniluk 2015-06-16 09:42
Hi Chant,

Thanks for connecting with your question. Powder is cheaper. If the tablet and the powder is of high quality both will absorb well.

Cheers, Julie
# Pat 2015-06-17 13:56
I hyperthyroidism. I'm thinking I should not be taking ashwagandah. Is this correct?
# Julie Daniluk 2015-06-19 17:25
Hello Pat,

Thanks for writing in. I would be very cautious about consuming ashwagandah with a hyperthyroid condition. Consult your Naturopathic Doctor prior to doing so.

Cheers, Julie
# Justine Mbabazi 2015-07-20 08:05
Dear Julie,
I am just joining this forum and inspired by what am reading so far. Thank you. I am struggling to balance my thyroid functions naturally , I am in Mauritius, Do you know where I can buy Thyrosense and ashwagandha supplement ?
# Julie Daniluk 2015-07-20 08:25
Hello Justine,

Thanks for joining us. You can purchase both at most health food stores. You can also purchase them online:

Thyrosense: http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B00PUX826G/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=15121&creative=330641&creativeASIN=B00PUX826G&linkCode=as2&tag=juldandotcom-20


Cheers, Julie
# yelena cherkasova 2015-09-09 17:15
hello Julie, is it ok to take ashwaganda with tyrosine?
Like in your case, did you take then together or only Ashwaganda?
# Julie Daniluk 2016-02-26 12:46
Hello Yelena,

This is a question for your primary health provider.

Cheers, Julie
# Lola 2016-02-25 06:46
Hi Julie, at the beginning my TSH was 18.5. I took iodine thinking that it helps beside the medication. Then 1 month later I had ultrasound, and I found out that I have Hashimoto. The iodine intake made it worse. My TSH was 19.5. First I took 0.25 mg, then 50 then 75 of Synthroid. The problem is that my Thyroid gland has shrunken, the doctors didn't discover the problem on time. My TSH was 8.5 last time. The doctor will raise the dosage to 100 3 months from now, the doctors are cynical about alternative therapies. I have ordered Ashwaganda, but I am a little bit scared to take 300 mg/day. Thats the dosage of the capsules, thats the recommended dosage/day in general.
There is no Naturopathic Doctor around here. I am not in the US now.
# Julie Daniluk 2016-02-26 12:49
Hello Lola,

All of these questions would need to be answered by a health provider who knows your blood work and health history. I cannot answers these questions via the internet. The information I provide is for interest and education but cannot substitute for the care of a doctor, ND or holistic MD. Sorry I can't help you more.

Wishing you well, Julie
# Tabatha 2016-03-16 19:39
Thank you for this information. Very helpful.
# Julie Daniluk 2016-03-21 07:57
Good to hear Tabatha,

Cheers, Julie
# Ingeborg 2016-03-30 09:31
Thank you for sharing.
# Julie Daniluk 2016-04-06 09:27
You're welcome!

Cheers, Julie
# Japani 2016-04-01 12:42
This is a great article. Thanks!
# Julie Daniluk 2016-04-06 09:27
Glad I could be helpful.

Cheers, Julie
# Barbara K 2016-04-06 11:06
I love your blog. So much great information. Thanks!
# Julie Daniluk 2016-04-06 09:28
Great to hear Barbara!

Cheers, Julie
# Hannah 2016-04-07 07:03
I've definitely going to try some of this herb. Thanks.
# Tasha 2016-06-25 11:28
Hi Julie! Are you still on the Thyrosense and extra ashwagandha? May I ask what your TSH levels are now and if you are also monitoring your FT4 and FT3 levels too? Are your FT4 & FT3 in the middle of the normal range?

By the way, I was at one of your talks at a health show and you are such a dynamic speaker!
# Julie Daniluk 2016-06-26 22:16
Hello Tasha,

Thank you for the great feedback!

Yes I am on Thyrosense and use ashwagandha. My TSH Levels are normal as well as my FT4 & 3. I am monitored every 3 months by my ND.

Kind regards, Julie
# Alyse 2016-09-15 00:03
Hi Julie,
I am a health coach and do not know a ton of info on using herbs on their own. I do have low thyroid and was diagnosed with hashimotos. Would ashwagandha be ok to take? I do want to get off my meds. Would I need to take thyrosense as well or can I just do ashwagandha. I have read that ashwagandha is not always good for low thyroid conditions or if on thyroid meds.

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