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Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha Root Extract in Subclinical Hypothyroid Patients: A Double-Blind, Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial

ABSTRACT

Background
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.

Objective
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.

Interventions
Ashwagandha root extract (600 mg daily) or starch as placebo.

Efficacy Variables
Serum TSH, serum triiodothyronine (T3), and thyroxine (T4) levels.

Results
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.

Conclusion
Treatment with ashwagandha may be beneficial for normalizing thyroid indices in subclinical hypothyroid patients.

To cite this article
Sharma Ashok Kumar, Basu Indraneel, and Singh Siddarth. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. August 2017, ahead of print. https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2017.0183

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