Ashwagandha

Hi all. I'm new to this site, so forgive me if this has already been discussed.

I'm underactive (unaware of levels as I never get that info from my GP), but I'm still suffering. I'm always Cold (get terrible sores on my toes), exhausted, memory is poor and sluggish and worst of all I have zero sex drive I've always had a high sex deive, so this is an issue. I've read something online about Ashwagandha being a natural wonder cure for these symptoms. However, with me being underactive, should I really be taking this?

Can anyone help at all?

13 Replies

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  • Hi Mowsonovitch, welcome to the forum.

    No, there are no wonder cures. Ashwagnadha is an adaptogen, which means that it is supposed to increase hormones when they're low, and decrease them when they're high. If only life were that simple! It might help you, but it doesn't suit everyone. And it certainly won't 'cure' all your hypo symptoms. The only thing that will get rid of your hypo symptoms is to stop being hypo. And you won't do that if you're under-medicated, which it sounds as if you are.

    It is your legal right to have a copy of your blood test results, under the 1998 Data Protection Act. Doctors will rarely hand you this information on a plate - a lot of them would prefer you don't know - and others think you wouldn't understand. lol But, you need to know what exactly was tested, and exactly what the results were. And keep your own records. So, ring the surgery, and say you'll be down to collect them, whenever is convenient. :)

  • Thanks Greygoose. I've just had my yearly blood test today. I'm expecting a low result but I'll request the info from them regardless. I think there's an issue with thyroid tests and the lack of information passed down by GP's in general, which would be beneficial. I never knew certain foods can assist/hinder the absorption into the blood until recently, which would have been handy to know. It's certainly feedback I'll be leaving with the surgery. Thanks for your input though.

  • What foods are you talking about? Be careful, there's a lot of rubbish talked out there.

    You do need to take your levo an hour away from all food, for optimal absorption. But that only 'food' you need to avoid completely, is unfermented soy - and l don't even count that as food! People talk about Brussels sprouts, etc, but that's not true, they will not affect the absorption of your levo. And l have certainly never heard of a food that assists absorption.

    The problem with tests is that doctors don't know how to interpret them. In fact, they don't kniw very much about thyroid at all. So, they have no information to hand down to you.

    When you say you're expecting a low result, what exactly do you mean? A low TSH? Is that all your doctor tests? Did you go for a fasting test, early in the morning? Because that's when your TSH will be highest. But, doctors don't kniw that.

  • I think you've hit the nail on the head with everything you've said there. There doesn't appear to be any 'true' knowledge anywhere. I've heard that vitamin c assists absorption while calcium can suppress absorption. I've also heard about sprouts too, but that if you cook them well enough, it won't interfere with absorption.

    In terms of what I'm being tested for, I've no idea. I've never had anything explained to me. I'm now worried that by not fasting (not being told to fast) means that it's going to give an inaccurate result. I think sometimes GP's think all you need to know is how much thyroxine you need to take and that's it.

  • Vit C can assist absorption of levo, yes, and you can take vit C with it - and that's all you can take with it! But, don't go eating an orange with it, because an orange will contain calcium, and calcium can bind with the hormone and thereby block absorption. Which is why we say not to eat for an hour after taking it, or drink anything other than water.

    Brussels sprouts do not concern you - and it's myth that cooking them makes them ok, anyway - because you are on thyroid hormone replacement. Brussels sprouts are goitrogens, which, if eaten in large quantities, can impede the uptake of iodine by the thyroid gland. In no way, shape or form, can a Brussels sprout affect your absorption of levo.

    The fact that your test was not a fasting test will just mean that your TSH will not be at its lowest. TSH is at its highest early in the morning, and drops throughout the day, and after eating. But, no way would your doctor know that. They don't give information, because they don't have any to give. And, they don't explain tests because a) they don't fully understand them and b) they think you're as thick as they are! lol

    Seriously, though, just ask for a print-out of the results, and we'll do the rest. :)

  • Will do. Thanks for your input. Very helpful.

  • You're welcome. :)

  • I'm hypothyroid and ashwagandha made me feel very peculiar.

  • Thanks. I think I'll avoid then.

  • And me...

  • Cheers.

  • Hi,

    I am fairly new to this site but have had thyroid issues for many years. Funnily enough, I am having similar issues to you and raised the Ashwagandha question too. Some of those who responded find it helps and some people find it doesn't. As well as auto-immune thyroid issues, I have several auto-immune conditions - one of them very rare - and am under the care of a neurologist. I, too was concerned about brain fog and memory issues and asked him about Ashwagandha. He researched it and got back to me saying that he felt that it could be very beneficial for me. As mentioned, like you, I put out feelers to find out if others have tried it and the responses were mixed. Have researched further into it and am wondering whether perhaps other factors come into play e.g:

    1) The quality of the Ashwagandha itself.

    2) The dosage taken - too high / too low.

    3) If one can afford it, it is a good idea when considering new treatments, to consult with someone who has expertise in the kind of treatments one is thinking of trying. There are many different holistic health practitioners who recommend Ashwagandha -one of the primary one's being doctors of Ayurvedic medicine. In Ayurvedic medicine, they don't simply treat physical symptoms in the body but rather tackle things on all sorts of different levels - eg body / mind / spirit etc. Just taking Ashwagandha on its own might be effective in some cases but might be even more effective if done in combination with these other things - plus, just as with allopathic medicine, some medicines might not have the desired effects initially but can be tweaked to become effective - eg by adjusting doses / adding other 'medications' to the mix / looking at other factors such as diet / exercise etc - so, too with Ayurvedic medicine. If Ashwagandha did not seem to be having the desired effect, an Ayurvedic practitioner could tweak things and tailor it to the individual's needs. There are many, many very useful sources of information about Ashwagandha out there. Just came across one in my e.mail the other day: naturalendocrinesolutions.c...

    which might be of interest to you.

    I looked at how this discussion went and notice that you subsequently touched on several different issues. A lot of us are experiencing issues with the one-size-fits-all standard thyroid tests that GPs send us for as, all too often, they come back in the 'normal ' range and we are told that our thyroids are fine and just to keep on taking the tablets as before - or to raise or lower the dosage. Many people have been told that their symptoms are simply down to depression or anxiety and have been prescribed anti-depressants / anxiolytic drugs etc - which can bring their own array of problems with them. Some have more or less been told that it is all in their minds - so you can imagine that that leaves people feeling disgruntled and as though they are hitting their heads against a brick wall. It seems that part of the problem is down to the fact that, while T4 might appear in the normal range, that doesn't necessarily mean that it is converting into the more active form of T3 and, when this is left unaddressed, the thyroid begins to deteriorate even further. Some of us, myself included, had our thyroids tested privately - using wider - ranging tests -and are able to show that we are T3 deficient. The medical profession seems extremely reluctant to address the T3 issue - hence why you will find many entries discussing T3 / self medicating with T3 / discussions on the best types of T3 / where to source it from etc. In my own case, it was discovered that my TSH, Free thyroxine and T4 are all normal -which was in accord with the tests the GP had done however, the additional tests indicated my T3 level is low -causing hypothyroidism symptoms and that my thyroid peroxidase antibodies are elevated. Thyroid peroxidase antibodies are commonly see in Hashimoto's disease (where the thyroid becomes underactive) but, confusingly can also be seen in Graves' disease (where the thyroid becomes overactive. My thyroglobulin antibodies are positive and this can be associated with autoimmune thyroid disease - especially Hashimoto's. This doesn't surprise me as auto-immune endocrine conditions - including Hashimoto's, Graves' and Addison's disease - have long been rife in my extended family. Am not happy with the thought that I have only been diagnosed as having an auto-immune version of a thyroid condition as this has all sorts of other ramifications. An auto-immune condition can open the door for other conditions to arise -many of them also autoimmune conditions - eg: many people with auto-immune conditions develop issues such as HBP, iron deficiency anaemia/ pernicious anaemia/ vitamin B12 deficiency / bowel and/ or digestive conditions such as coeliac's disease, IBS, Crohn's /diabetes/ gallstones / fatty liver / atherosclerosis / psoriasis - even conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis etc. I have developed several of these health issues over the years -finally going on to develop a rare auto-immune / neurological condition that has affected me on all sorts of levels -rendering me housebound. I had been blissfully unaware that one auto-immune condition can leave the door open for others to develop and would hate the idea of this happening to others - hence the reason why I flagged this up so that others might become aware of it. I also discovered that there may be a link between thyroid / endocrine issues and Alzheimer's dementia - qv:

    drknews.com/hashimotos-brai...

    or

    ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articl...

    Given that my mother, aunt and grandmother went on to develop Alzheimer's following upon thyroid issues, the alarm bells are going off for me.

    There are a lot of sources of information about T4 -T3 conversion. Again, I received something in my e.mail on this topic that provides a fairly simple summary of some of the things that can affect the conversion:

    naturalendocrinesolutions.c...

    There are many thyroid experts out there who have set up web-sites / blogs / Youtube videos etc giving advice on various aspects of thyroid conditions -some being better than others so one has to be discerning. One such expert is Dr Izabella Wentz who, herself had Hashimoto’s and describes how she went through the same experiences as many of us -vis-à-vis being told her thyroid fell within the normal range. There are many videos of her on Youtube. They are easy to locate by doing a Google search for IZABELLA WENTZ YOUTUBE. There is a fairly short one (33 minutes and 29 seconds) where she addresses many of the issues relating to Hashimoto’s - triggers such as intestinal permeability, malabsorption, nutrient deficiencies, food intolerances or sensitivities, toxins, stress etc. - and she includes that perennial hot potato of whether iodine is beneficial or not. That video is entitled, 'Addressing Hashimoto's Thyroiditis with Dr Izabella Wentz'. She has made it her life's mission to highlight thyroid issues and to help folk identify and eliminate their triggers - to the point that they may go into remission for as long as they avoid their triggers etc. One of the triggers she mentions, that many people have, is gluten intolerance. Interestingly enough, I had eliminated gluten from my diet some years ago and noticed a positive difference. I very gradually lost over 2 stones in weight and felt fitter as a result. When I mentioned to my GP what I was doing, she very kindly arranged for me to be tested for gluten intolerance since, as she said, it's not an easy thing to give up and, why would one wish to do so if there was no reason. The test came back indicating I wasn't gluten intolerant so I re-introduced gluten into my diet. Several months later, I realised that my stomach had swollen and I had put on an awful lot of weight again. I was sent for an ultrasound and they discovered my liver was enlarged (and no, I don't drink alcohol) and I had developed gall stones. The liver may be another auto-immune condition -alternatively, it could be down to gluten again as I discovered that sometimes one can have gluten sensitivity rather than gluten intolerance and that that wouldn't necessarily cause symptoms or show up in tests. I recently started to eliminate gluten from my diet again and am slowly beginning to lose weight so am crossing my fingers that it may help with the liver situation too.

    If you are interested in finding out how having one auto-immune condition can act as a doorway to others -if the root cause is not found and tackled -again there are many excellent sources to draw upon for such info. One of my favourites is Dr John Bergman. He has hundreds of YouTube videos dealing with various medical conditions. If you key in JOHN BERGMAN THYROID YOUTUBE lots of useful videos on that topic will come up.

    Sorry this turned out so long. Am at a stage where I am considering my next step. The more info I turn up, the more convinced I become that the allopathic approach of simply treating the symptoms of auto-immune thyroid conditions with various medications etc is simply touching the tip of the iceberg and that there is a lot of benefit to be had in trying to address the underlying causes so I have determined to try to find myself a functional / holistic doctor / practitioner to help me identify my triggers and address them and will run both systems in tandem for a while to see how things go.

    Hope some of the above will be of use to you.

  • Hi Gazebo. Thank you for replying to my post. It's great to hear from you and I cannot thank you enough for all of the information and advice. I'm sorry to hear of your ailments and I hope you are well in yourself, as I can only imagine how distressing things have been for you.

    Your message resonates with me on many levels, but one that hits home is the link with Alzheimer's. My grandmother had an underactive thyroid and suffered with Alzheimer's during her later years, and would ultimately be the cause of her demise (she did exceptionally well to make 92). This is the area that makes me feel uneasy and maybe something to discuss with my GP. I have a call booked in on Monday, as it appears my latest blood test results show that "an increased dose maybe required". However, I'm going to be armed with questions when I do speak to him.

    What is coming to light quite quickly from being on here is that GP's are so dismissive of it. Like Izabella Wentz, I too want to highlight thyroid issues. I know zero about my condition apart from what I've researched myself and want to push the NHS to help patients understand their condition, what the blood tests look at and how the issue can be treated. In the 4 years I've been diagnosed, All I've been told by my GP is that I'm underactive and that I'm to take Levothyroxine potentially for the rest of my life. That's exactly it!! I've researched the rest but even then, there's conflicting information. I just want real answers from somebody who knows their stuff.

    There's a lot of info on the links and some of those videos are very long, but I will read up and watch the videos. It's in my benefit to do so.

    Thank you again and I wish you well. Good luck my friend and stay strong. Please keep me informed of how you get on.

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