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Essential oils may be helpful for thyroid health because they are known to help reduce some of the root causes of thyroid issues. You can do this by using a functional nutrition approach.
Read on to learn more about how essential oils can fit into your client’s lives.
What Does the Thyroid Do?
The thyroid is responsible for regulating metabolic rate through complex mechanisms and regulatory controls (1).
Thyroid releasing hormone (TRH), which regulates the production of T3, is made in the hypothalamus. The pituitary gland makes thyroid stimulating (TSH) hormone in response to T3 levels in the blood (3).
What Do Thyroid Hormones Do?
Thyroid hormones control (1):
- Metabolism and appetite – your energy, ability to burn fat, and even use of nutrients in the body.
- Body temperature and body reactions
- Heart rate
- Brain function
- Muscle maintenance
- Fertility and hormone balance
- Bone strength
Thyroid hormones are affected by other organs in the body.
If these organs aren’t functioning properly, it will reduce optimal thyroid function.Those organs are (4):
- The adrenal glands
- The liver
- The hypothalamus
- The pituitary gland
Who Has Thyroid Dysfunction?
At least 10 percent of the population suffer from a thyroid disorder and an estimated 13 million people, or 50% of people, in the United States have thyroid dysfunction and don’t know it (4).
Up to 20% of women greater than 60 years of age have subclinical hypothyroidism as well (5).
Chronic stress impacts hormonal balances in the body. This stress, including diet imbalances, can negatively impact the thyroid (6).
Natural thyroid support should aim to reduce stress. Essential oils play an important role to reduce stress.
What Causes Thyroid Problems?
Toxins, poor diets, stress, and inflammation are known to make thyroid function suffer. We know this is a real problem because a huge percentage of the population now have thyroid problems, including weight gain, altered metabolism, and more (6, 7, 8,9).
A great lifestyle can go a long way to helping your client’s thyroid function. It is empowering because your patients will see results in this area!
Use of essential oils is also emerging as a great way to support our thyroid health. Many plants that are mentioned here support overall health, thyroid, and metabolism in many ways.
Keep in mind, many research studies support mechanisms to improve thyroid function; however, many of the studies we have are still early phase.
Diet & Environmental Factors
Inflammation dictates a leaky gut, which in turn increases the risk of thyroid problems (10)
The root cause of many thyroid issues is imbalanced diet, processed foods, leaky gut, exposure to chemicals, and too much inflammation (9). Here is how:
- Low thyroid levels are related to having too few antioxidants.
- High thyroid levels cause oxidation and inflammation.
- Leaky gut allows chemicals to enter the body that can drive inflammation and toxic burden.
Stress, imbalanced diet, food intolerances, toxins, and lack of protective plants in our diet also create this inflammatory response and low antioxidant levels (9).
Chronic stress negatively impacts the thyroid.
Cortisol from the adrenal glands functions in a negative feedback loop with the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. This is known as the hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid axis (11).
Cortisol signals to your hypothalamus, thyroid, and pituitary gland all to slow down. Stress also changes the conversion of T4 to T3, resulting in more reverse T3 (1).
This is why essential oils have a lot of appeal as a therapy for the stress-related “Thyroid steal.” If you can prevent the chronic, elevated cortisol levels, you can reduce some of the negative aspects of low thyroid levels, such as:
- Weight gain
Cortisol increases thyroid resistance, much like the resistance of insulin in the body when we have diabetes. Additionally, stress hormone increases estrogen levels, which elevates thyroid binding globulin, causing a net decrease in the thyroid function (1).
Stress also decreases thyroid releasing hormone from the pituitary gland, further worsening thyroid levels in the blood (12).
The main objective to help the thyroid function in this context is to dampen down stress!
Let’s review. Stress causes:
- Reduces Thyroid Releasing Hormone
- Increases thyroid resistance
- Reduces T4 to T3 conversion
- Increases estrogen which increases thyroid binding hormone
Other ways that oils that may help adrenal function:
- Cinnamon bark essential oil –may help balance blood sugar and insulin (20)
- Helichrysum essential oil –Reduces stress and is anti-inflammatory (21)
- Manuka essential oil – Very relaxing and is spasmolytic (22)
- Rosemary essential oil – Reduces cortisol and may improve memory (19)
The Hypothalamus-thyroid connection
The hypothalamus is the control center for hormones, digestive, and the nervous system (31).
Essential oils can impact the hypothalamus because the aromatic compounds send signals from the olfactory bulb directly to the hypothalamus (32).
As part of the limbic system, the hypothalamus is deeply involved in memory, and the sense of smell intricately helps balance the hypothalamic response (32).
In addition to the aromatic effect of essential oils, compounds in essential oils called sesqueterpines can cross the blood-brain barrier (33).
These aromatic compounds increase oxygen to the entire limbic system. The result is an increase in endorphins, neurotransmitters, and more (33).
The sesqueterpines are a larger size molecule with 15 carbon atoms; this makes them less volatile than other essential oil compounds (34).
- Blue tansy
- Ylang Ylang
Other Ways Essential Oils Help our Thyroid?
Essential oils can help get to the root of many of thyroid imbalances, especially stress as described above.
Essential oils serve as a great source of antioxidants for the body and can help bring down inflammation.
This, in turn, helps the thyroid.
Here are some key essential oils that help balance and may help restore thyroid function.
Lemongrass is also a great essential oil for pain in the thyroid area.
Diluted lemongrass applied to the neck may help reduce thyroid discomfort and provide healing properties.
This is why lemongrass may be helpful for managing symptoms of thyroid nodules.
It is also great to help the digestive tract work properly.
In cell culture, ginger also reduced leaky gut and inflammation.
A blend of ginger and lemon oil used as aromatherapy helped preserve the salivary gland in patients who were undergoing treatment for thyroid cancer.
Turmeric Essential Oil: Ginger’s relative, turmeric, is helpful in many ways to support thyroid health.
Lavender essential oil reduced cortisol levels by almost 70% in patients preparing for open heart surgery (18).
Lavender is also a great essential oil for natural pain relief.
Myrrh prevented low thyroid levels in female mice by reducing markers of inflammation in the body.
Frankincense is used also to reduce pain and inflammation in joints.
Frankincense may protect the thyroid by reducing free radicals in the body.
Frankincense is one of the best essential oils for hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
Essential Oils for Healthy Metabolism
Low thyroid can cause a sluggish metabolism and weight gain. Essential oils that are Certified Pure Therapeutic (CPTG) quality can be used to help support a healthy metabolism, including grapefruit, peppermint oil, and cinnamon oil as well as ginger oil.
Other essential oils that reduce inflammation include the following (48):
How to Use Essential Oils for Thyroid
Apply To the Affected Area
Apply directly to your neck area with a carrier oil like fractionated coconut oil.
Combining multiple types of essential oils may increase effectiveness. A good combination for help with the thyroid is clove, myrrh, frankincense, and lemongrass together.
We absorb essential oils directly into the skin, just like most things we apply to our body. Many essential oils use hexane and solvents to extract plant compounds. They even use chemical fillers! Use only Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade (CPTG) oils.
Take Orally as a Liquid or Gel Cap
The oils listed above can also be taken internally, using 1-2 drops twice daily, in an empty gel cap or diluted in water if using Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade (CPTG) oils. Doterra oils for thyroid is one such oil.
As a general rule, use small amounts (1-2 drops) several times a day for the most benefit.
A great way to help overall health is to get an essential oil kit.
- Essential oils are not a replacement for medication but can support the health of the body.
- Routinely check your thyroid levels with your doctor and adjust medications as necessary.
- Make sure to use caution if you are sensitive to any of the essential oils.
- Do not use these during pregnancy unless under the guidance of your healthcare provider.
Essential oils are supportive of a healthy body and thyroid in numerous ways. You can help guide your patients and clients with essential oil use with some basic tips listed above. As with anything, essential oils can not work in isolation and should be part of overall medical management.
Virtual diet detective work is her mission. With her inquisitive nature and open-minded personality, she is often able to find clues to help get at the root cause of illness. She has done this with her own thyroid issues and wants to to help you get your clients’ health in check. Learn more about her at her website.