Across the globe, nearly 200 million people suffer from some form of thyroid condition. The thyroid is a powerful gland that has control over the metabolic function of all cells in the human body. With that said, when this power-hungry gland decides to take time off and be under-active or put in some overtime and be overactive, it can wreak havoc on various areas and systems within the body. If you doubt this, just take a look at a brief list of the symptoms that can be caused by the thyroid gland:
- Puffy Eyes
- Thinning or Coarse Hair
- Cold Extremities
- Pale and Dry Skin
- Fatigue or even Exhaustion
- Memory Loss
- Difficulty in Focusing
- Unexplained Weight Gain, Regardless of Diet and Exercise
- Trouble Sleeping
- Weak Finger and Toe Nails
- Thinning Eyebrows
As you can see, the thyroid can let us live a normal and healthy life or it can make our lives miserable. Don’t forget, the list above is only a small one. There are over 300 symptoms that are related to issues with the thyroid. The main reason for so many symptoms is because the thyroid can be overactive or underactive and each condition has its own unique symptoms.
Now that we have covered the importance of thyroid health, let’s take a closer look at both overactive and underactive thyroid conditions. We will also cover the best essential oils for helping with each type of thyroid condition.
Hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, results in the thyroid producing too much thyroxine and triiodothyronine. This hormone speeds up the metabolism within the body. While having a faster metabolism might not sound so bad, it can cause some serious health issues:
- Mood swings
- Irregular heartbeat
- Problems sleeping
- Shaky hands
- Brittle hair
- Sudden unexplained weight loss
- Nervousness or anxiety
- Feeling weak or tired
- Increased bowel movements
- Heat sensitivity
- Menstrual cycle changes and irregularities
- Thinning Skin
While it is not common for these symptoms to show in older people, they can still be present and subtle. Symptoms such as fatigue from normal daily activities, faster heart rate, and increased sensitivity to heat are often associated with growing older but could be subtle symptoms of an overactive thyroid. Additionally, beta blockers used for treating high blood pressure and other medical conditions can hide many of the symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism.
Causes of Hyperthyroidism
With hyperthyroidism, the body makes too much of the hormones thyroxine and triiodothyronine and can create the symptoms and issues listed above. Here are the top three causes of hyperthyroidism.
Graves’ Disease = Graves’ disease is a condition that causes the body to create an antibody called TSI (Thyroid-Stimulating Immunoglobulin). TSI stimulates the thyroid gland and causes it to create too much of the thyroid hormones.
Toxic Nodular / Multinodular Goiter = This is a condition where nodules or lumps develop in the thyroid and cause it to produce an excessive amount of hormones.
Result of Pregnancy = For women, pregnancy can cause an overactive thyroid. This can result during the pregnancy or during the first 12 months after childbirth.
Best Essential Oils for Overactive Thyroids
Lemongrass = While there are many ways in which lemongrass oil can help those with thyroid issues, one of the main benefits is its use as an anti-inflammatory. (1) Lemongrass oil has been shown to inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and IL1 beta. Lemongrass has also been used for treating shaking limbs or hands, another common symptom of overactive thyroids.
Lavender = Many people that live with an overactive thyroid tend to have problems with sleeping. Using lavender oil, which also has anti-inflammatory properties, for aromatherapy can help to achieve a calmer more relaxed state and have an easier time sleeping.
Frankincense = Frankincense contains boswellic acids. (2)This type of acid has a chemical structure that similar to steroids. By applying Frankincense directly over the thyroid, many people have reported improved thyroid hormone levels. Some users have even reported smaller thyroid nodules by using Frankincense on a regular basis.
Wintergreen = While wintergreen oil doesn’t provide much in the way of medical benefits, it can help those with overactive thyroids that are having issues sleeping. Many people have been using wintergreen oil to help achieve a more restful sleep due to its stress reducing and relaxing properties.
Sandalwood = Since many people with overactive thyroids suffer from symptoms of anxiety, sandalwood oil is a great option. Sandalwood oil has been used for years by people that suffer from anxiety. Due to its calming and relaxing properties, sandalwood oil can help those with overactive thyroids that also experience symptoms of anxiety or restlessness.
Pine = Pine oil is another option for those with anxiety symptoms related to an overactive thyroid. It provides many of the same effects as sandalwood oil but offers a different scent.
On the other end of the spectrum you will find hypothyroidism. Also referred to as under-active thyroid disease, hypothyroidism is a common disorder that prevents the thyroid gland from making enough of the hormone thyroxine. The symptoms associated with hypothyroidism can be hard to detect since they can mimic the symptoms of other conditions:
- Carpal tunnel
- Slower heartbeat
- Problems sleeping
- Hair loss
- Sudden unexplained weight gain
- Cold sensitivity
- Menstrual cycle changes and irregularities
- Dry skin
Hypothyroidism is typically caused by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This is an inflammation of the thyroid gland and is an autoimmune disorder. The thyroid gland is destroyed by the body as it produces antibodies to attack it.
Causes of Hypothyroidism
While there are many reasons someone can develop hypothyroidism, here is a list of three of the main causes of hypothyroidism.
Poor Diet = Diets that do not provide the proper nutrients the body needs, such as selenium and iodine, can increase the risk of developing thyroid disorders. The thyroid glands need selenium and iodine in order to produce the thyroid hormones the human body needs.
Medicine Interactions = Underactive thyroids have been connected to interactions with drugs used to treat heart problems, psychiatric conditions, and cancer.
Inadequate Exercise = Just as exercise is important for healthy muscles, it is also important for a healthy thyroid. Those that do not get enough exercise are at a higher risk of developing underactive thyroid issues.
Best Essential Oils for Under-active Thyroids
Just as there are essential oils that can help those that suffer from overactive thyroids, there are essential oils that can help those with under-active thyroids.
Myrrh = Just as Frankincense has been shown to help people with overactive thyroids by applying it directly over the thyroid gland, there have been reports of people suffering from underactive thyroids using Myrrh in a similar manner for improving thyroid health.
Spearmint = Along with helping to stimulate blood circulation and helping to improve the immune system, spearmint oil also helps to keep the metabolism activated by stimulating the secretion of hormones.
Peppermint = If spearmint oil seems to be ineffective, peppermint oil would make for a better alternative. It provides the same benefits as found in spearmint but contains a higher concentration of menthol, thereby making it a stronger option.
Rose Geranium = Studies have been conducted that show that (3) rose geranium oil provides people with a natural and safe anti-inflammatory option. While spearmint and peppermint oils are more potent options, rose geranium oil is an ideal alternative for those that might be sensitive to menthol.
Cedarwood = Cedarwood oil helps to keep the metabolism activated by stimulating the thyroid and the secretion of hormones.
While there are traditional medical treatments available for helping with overactive and under-active thyroids, many that receive these treatments still feel some of the effects of thyroid conditions and thereby unable to truly enjoy a healthy lifestyle. With beneficial and natural treatments, such as high-grade essential oils, used in conjunction with medical treatments, many are able to experience a better quality of life.
(1) “Lemongrass Effects on IL-1beta and IL-6 Production by Macrophages”, By Sforcin, Amaral, Fernandes, Sousa, Bastos. 12/23/2009.
(2) “Frankincense: From the Selection of Traditional Applications to the Novel Phytotherapy for the Prevention and Treatment of Serious Diseases”, By R. Hamidpour, S. Hamidpour, M. Hamidpour, Shahlari. October 2013
(3) “Rose Geranium Essential Oil as a Source of New and Safe Anti-Inflammatory Drugs”, By Boukhatem, Kameli, Ferhat, Saidi, Mekarnia. October 2013.