Subclinical hypothyroidism, a thyroid disorder without obvious symptoms of thyroid deficiency, occurs in 3%-8% of the global population. Ashwagandha [Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal], a traditional medicine in Ayurveda, is often prescribed for thyroid dysfunctions.
This pilot study was designed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of ashwagandha root extract in subclinical hypothyroid patients.
DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS:
A prospective, randomized, double-blind, single-center placebo-controlled study was performed at Sudbhawana Hospital, Varanasi, India between May 2016 and September 2016. Fifty subjects with elevated serum thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels (4.5-10 μIU/L) aged between 18 and 50 were randomized in either treatment (n = 25) or placebo (n = 25) groups for an 8-week treatment period.
Ashwagandha root extract (600 mg daily) or starch as placebo. Efficacy Variables: Serum TSH, serum triiodothyronine (T3), and thyroxine (T4) levels.
A total of four subjects (two from each group) withdrew their consent before the second visit. Eight weeks of treatment with ashwagandha improved serum TSH (p < 0.001), T3 (p = 0.0031), and T4 (p = 0.0096) levels significantly compared to placebo. Ashwagandha treatment effectively normalized the serum thyroid indices during the 8-week treatment period in a significant manner (time-effects: TSH [p < 0.001], T3 [p < 0.001], and T4 [p < 0.001]). Four subjects (8%) (ashwagandha: 1[4%]; Placebo: 3[12%]) out of 50 reported few mild and temporary adverse effects during this study.
Treatment with ashwagandha may be beneficial for normalizing thyroid indices in subclinical hypothyroid patients.