Ashwagandha lowers TSH and makes me hypo?

I tried ashwagandha years ago for 2 months and made me very tired. Back than I didn't know anything about thyroid conditions and I had no idea why it made me tired.

Last month I decided to try it again, this time taking blood test to understand the situation. Now I know I have hypo problems, but blood tests is not too bad. This was 2 months ago before I started ashwagandha again:

T3 4.7 (2.6-5.7)

TSH 3.6 (0.35-4.94)

2 weeks after ashwagandha:

T3 3.05 (2.6-5.7)

TSH 1.84 (0.35-4.94)

This makes me very confused. Normally TSH would increase if T3 is so low. But in my case ashwagandha lowered both TSH and T3. I would like to understand why this happens because I would really like to keep ashwagandha as it increases my testosterone.

Blood test haven't show Hashimoto's. But even if problem was with autoimmunity, wouldn't be TSH increased if ashwagandha worsened this condition? When I took too much iodine my T3 was lowered a bit and TSH went above border line, but I never had nearly so low T3 and also so low TSH as with this herb. Is it possible that autoimmunity problems lowers TSH?

Now I am thinking if I should keep taking ashwagandha to keep my testosterone levels optimal and start taking NDT because ashwagandha lowers my T3 so much. Still better than taking testosterone. But I am wondering if ashwagandha is worsening hidden autoimmunity condition.

Any opinion would be great!

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13 Replies

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  • Might be a result of its effect on cortisol. What happened to your FT4 during that time? Your TSH is a bit too high really for anyone, especially if you are on thyroid meds.

  • FT4 has been lowered from 16 to 12 (ref. 9.01 - 19.05). I am not on thyroid meds.

  • 12 is too low; sounds as though your thyroid is beginning to struggle. If you have low sex hormones also, you might have a pituitary problem. Most healthy people have a TSH around 1 and FT4 and FT3 in the top third or quarter of their ranges.

  • There are quite a lot of things that could change TSH and Free T4 over a period of two months.

    1) Time of day the test was carried out.

    2) Eating/fasting before the test can make a difference.

    3) You could have positive antibodies and not have them show up on blood testing. They fluctuate a lot anyway, but some people never have positive antibody results. But Hashi's damage may show up on ultrasound.

    4) There are two different kinds of antibodies which may show up in Hashimoto's. The NHS will (sometimes) test TPO Antibodies but won't test Tg Antibodies. The NHS seems to believe that people can have positive TPO Ab on their own, but never have positive Tg Ab on their own. However there are quite a lot of people on the forum who have tested privately and only had Tg Ab show up positive. They would have been told by the NHS that they didn't have autoimmune hypothyroidism.

    5) Ashwaghanda is an adaptogen. Adaptogens have effects on cortisol levels. Changes in cortisol levels will affect the way your body responds to thyroid hormones (whether those thyroid hormones have originated from pills or your thyroid).

    6) A change in the temperature and the weather could alter thyroid function test results.

  • 1,2,6 could be excluded for sure. I made thyroid tests in past years more than 10 times, changes in temperature, eating, fasting never made any huge difference. I always do tests at morning (+- 2 hours). I am not talking about 5% changes but 100% difference in TSH which will never be affected by fasting, weather or time so much. It is not just one day difference because the test reflects also my very tired feeling through days.

    I am aware that I can have positive antibodies and not have them show up on blood testing. This is why I would like to find out if Hashimoto's could cause also secondary hypothyroidism meaning that it affects pituitary gland to not produce enough TSH and not thyroid itself.

  • Hashimoto's wouldn't damage the pituitary. If you've had a head injury, a bump on the head, a car accident, or whiplash in the last two months that might change your pituitary function.

    I still think the most likely cause of the changes you had was a change in cortisol levels (caused by the ashwaghanda) affecting TSH and Free T4.

  • Thank you for this information. I think I will try adding some NDT to lift T3 and see what heppens.

  • TSH often varies by 75% over the course of a day.

  • I measured TSH more than 10 times in past years (always at morning) and it never varied so much. But again, it is not just about the test, it is also my body temperature that dropped and I also feel more tired. So the test reflects my feelings and is not just one day result.

  • I have been taking Ashwaganda for hot flushes which worked a treat, but didn't realise it can affect t3, and I have put on 8lbs so this could be why do you think?

  • I was thinking of trying Ashwaganda as an adaptogen because my cortisol is on the high side and it needs to be balanced or reduced ideally. I tried to introduce 5mcg of T3 with 75mcg of Levo but the addition of T3 messed up my sleep pattern. It must have affected my cortisol in a bad way.

    According to Dr Westin Childs, Ashwaganda is meant to help thyroid function: restartmed.com/ashwagandha/

    newbie85 have you ever had a 4 point Adrenal saliva test to see what your cortisol levels are like?

  • Yes I tried it couple of years ago and it was fine. At morning it was high but still normal and at night low but still normal. Blood tests have mostly showed elevated cortisol a bit, now with Ashwagandha it was reduced to 230 nmol/L (ref. 101-535). humanbean is probably right, probably lowered cortisol affected t3 levels.

  • TSH is irrelevant when at low levels. My endo tried the 'you will get osteoporosis and atrial fibulation if the TSH is suppressed ' its a lie of course.I have not been ddiagnosed with either. And now the endo has to agree to disagree or else!

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