What is Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism, also known as hypothyroid disease, is a condition where the thyroid is underactive. The thyroid is a ductless gland in the neck that releases hormones that regulate development or growth by metabolic means.
The butterfly-configured gland is found on the front of the neck just below the Adam’s apple in front of the windpipe. The thyroid features two lobes on the side that are linked by an isthmus or bridge in the central part of the gland.
The thyroid not only produces hormones that regulate the metabolic rate of the body but it also supports the heart, digestion, muscle control, brain development, and maintenance of the bones. When a thyroid is functioning correctly, it is receiving sufficient iodine.
Hypothyroidism is a common disorder. The thyroid simply cannot produce enough hormones. These hormones are released by gland before traveling through the blood and affect almost every part of the body, including the heart, brain, skin, and muscles.
The main function of the thyroid is to control how the body’s cells utilize energy or metabolize the nutrients in food. The metabolism affects heart rate, calorie burning, and body temperature.
If you do not have enough thyroid hormones circulating through the bloodstream, the metabolism slows. People with this condition often have problems losing weight or may feel tired.
Signs and Symptoms
People who have hypothyroidism often have symptoms that mimic other ailments. Some of the indicators that point to hypothyroidism include the following:
- Menstrual cycle changes
- Dry hair and hair loss
- Dry skin
- Sensitivity to cold
- Swelling of the goiter or thyroid gland
- A slower heart rate
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Unexplained weight gain or problems with losing weight
Babies who have hypothyroidism may exhibit the following symptoms:
- Extreme drowsiness
- Cold feet and hands
- Poor growth and development
- Poor muscle tone
- Problems with eating
- Bloated stomach
- Swelling of the tongue
Causes of Hypothyroidism
The most common cause of a sluggish thyroid is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This condition involves inflammation of the thyroid gland. The autoimmune disorder causes the body to produce antibodies that damage the thyroid gland. It may result from a viral infection.
Other causes of hypothyroidism include the following:
- Radiation treatments to the neck. When certain cancers, such as lymphoma, are treated, radiation therapy is applied. Because radiation damages the thyroid’s cells, the gland can be affected.
- Radioactive iodine therapy. This type of therapy is often prescribed to individuals whose thyroid gland is overactive. The radiation destroys thyroid gland cells, leading to an underactive thyroid.
- Thyroid surgery. Surgery performed to remove the thyroid will cause hypothyroidism. If a portion of the gland is removed, the remaining gland may be enough to provide for the body’s hormonal needs.
- Lack of iodine. Because the thyroid needs iodine to produce hormones, you need to supplement your diet with iodine. This can be found in iodized salt as well as food sources such as saltwater fish, dairy products, and eggs.
- Pregnancy. In some instances, inflammation of the thyroid occurs after a woman delivers a baby. This is known as postpartum thyroiditis. This problem usually resolves itself after a while.
- Poor development of the thyroid gland. Some infants may be born with a thyroid gland that did not develop as it should or does not function correctly. This type of hypothyroidism is known as congenital hypothyroidism.
- A disorder of the hypothalamus. Hypothyroidism can occur, in very rare instances, if the hypothalamus located in the brain does not produce enough TSH. TSH stands for thyroid-stimulating hormone.
- Taking certain medicines. Some medicines that are used to treat heart ailments, cancer, or psychiatric disorders may affect the production or release of hormones.
Facts about Hypothyroidism
The two primary thyroid hormones are triiodothyronine and thyroxine, which are referred to as T3 and T4. These are the hormones that regulate the metabolism and heart rate. The amount that is secreted is controlled by the thyroid-stimulating hormone or TSH. When this thyroid hormone is insufficient, hypothyroidism is the result.
Risk factors for hypothyroidism are greater for people who are white or Asian or who are older. People with prematurely grey hair often suffer from a sluggish thyroid gland as well.
People with autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis, Type 1 diabetes, pernicious anemia, Addison’s disease, celiac disease are at increased risk for hypothyroidism. People who suffer from bipolar disorder are also at greater risk for hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism is diagnosed by checking the hormone levels, such as the levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and thyroxine (T4). If testing proves there is an abnormality, a doctor may order a thyroid scan or thyroid ultrasound to examine the thyroid for inflammation or further check the nodules.
Essential Oils for Hypothyroidism
A number of essential oils can be used to treat an underactive thyroid as well as an overactive thyroid. These oils can be applied to the thyroid site at the base of the neck. Essential oils used for this purpose are 50% to 70% percent more potent than using the plant or herb by itself. A little bit of the oil is all that is needed to enjoy the needed relief.
Why Essential Oils?
Many people use essential oils for thyroid conditions including overactive and under active thyroid conditions but why do they help? If you are unfamiliar with essential oils, then you should know they are very highly concentrated oil extracts distilled from various plants.
They have traditionally been used in aromatherapy and for relaxation but over recent years have become increasingly popular to treat a range of illnesses from bacterial infection to insomnia and depression. A growing body of studies into the beneficial effects of essential oils has demonstrated that they are a potentially safe and natural alternative for a broad range of physical and emotional issues.
When it comes to hypothyroidism, there is not a great deal of specific research to draw upon. However, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that they may be effective as well as research showing they can help treat many of the symptoms of thyroid conditions.
While essential oils can never truly be a replacement for thyroid hormone treatment, they may help ease many of the symptoms associated with hypothyroidism.
The Best Essential Oils for Hypothyroidism
Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint essential oil is an extremely diverse and very popular oil used for a range of physical and emotional conditions. It can help boost digestive health while studies show that inhaling the oil can help to reduce nausea. (1)
People suffering from a sluggish metabolism resulting from an under active thyroid can try inhaling the oil from a diffuser throughout the day. Alternatively, try adding a few drops of peppermint oil to a carrier oil and massaging it into your abdomen. We do not recommend ingesting peppermint essential oil but peppermint tea can have a stimulating effect on your metabolism.
Spearmint Essential Oil
Spearmint essential oil has very similar cooling effects to peppermint essential oil and can be used as a very effective alternative. It also has good natural analgesic effects that make it a suitable treatment for the joint aches and pain often felt by people with an under active thyroid. It can also help improve circulation to the joints and muscles.
Make sure that you dilute your spearmint essential oil with a suitable carrier oil like jojoba, coconut or grapeseed oil before applying it to your skin.
Rose Geranium Essential Oil
According to research, rose geranium essential oil has excellent anti-inflammatory actions making it a suitable natural treatment for inflammation caused by an under active thyroid. (2)
To treat inflammation, you should dilute your essential oil with a carrier oil and apply it topically to the skin. As an added bonus, there is evidence that rose geranium oil might help reduce the stress and anxiety often linked to the condition.
Cedarwood Essential Oil
Cedarwood essential oil is may be useful in relieving the dry skin suffered by many people with thyroid conditions. Before applying cedarwood oil to your skin, be sure to dilute it with a suitable carrier oil. You could also add 5 or 6 drops of the oil to your bathtub, hop in and let the goodness wash into your body.
Lemongrass Essential Oil
Lemongrass essential oil is known for its stimulating aroma that boosts energy and reduces fatigue. Not only can the oil manage hypothyroidism but it can also reduce oxidative stress. It supports immunity and healing as well.
Myrrh Essential Oil
This oil has been used for thousands of years to treat all kinds of ailments. It is still used to improve certain health conditions today. Known for its use in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), myrrh oil is rich in antioxidants known as terpenoids that reduce inflammation and support immunity. The terpenoids can protect again hormone-associated cancers too. Using the oil can support overall hormonal health.
Rosemary Essential Oil
This fresh-smelling oil is helpful for managing hypothyroidism symptoms including hair loss and an upset stomach. Studies show that rosemary can stimulate hair growth that is caused by stress or autoimmune disorders.
Clary Sage Essential Oil
This oil is known to help people with depression and can actually reduce the production of the thyroid-stimulating hormone or TSH. Too much TSH indicates that the body is attempting to produce more T3 and T4 hormones, which is an indicator of an underactive hormone.
According to many users, clary sage essential oil also has an antidepressant effect which may help many people with hypothyroidism.
Black Spruce Essential Oil
Black spruce oil features an earthy scent that supports relaxation. It also contains antioxidants known as monoterpenes. These compounds have an anti-stress effect in the brain. This anti-stress support system reduces inflammation, which supports thyroid health.
How to Use Essential Oils
While the aroma of essential oils can support thyroid health, it is better to apply the oils topically to the site. All you need to do is apply one drop of an essential oil that is diluted with a carrier oil. The carrier oil can be one of a number of vegetable oils including jojoba oil or coconut oil.
Apply the oil at the front base of the neck — the site of the thyroid gland — and on the lower back (right over the kidneys). The adrenals are located at this site.
You can also use the oils when practicing reflexology. Rub the essential oils on the big toes and midsoles of the feet. These particular points are the points you want to treat for the adrenal glands and thyroid. Make sure that the oils you choose are completely organic so you can receive the best benefits.
Selecting the Right Carrier Oil
When choosing a carrier oil, there are any number to choose from. Two of the most popular are jojoba oil or coconut oil. Either of these oils is a common oil that is used with essential oils for treating thyroid problems. These oils will dilute the essential oils so they will not burn or irritate the skin. Never apply the essential oils directly as doing so can lead to dermatological issues. Dilution is necessary if you want to make the best use of an EO.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are essential oils safe?
Provided they are used in the correct way, essential oils are generally considered to be safe. They should never be ingested unless you are under expert supervision. They can be inhaled wither directly or via a diffuser machine. They are also safe for topical application as long as you dilute the oil first with a suitable carrier oil like coconut, grapeseed, jojoba or sweet almond oil.
Pregnant women and nursing mothers should always be cautious and check with their doctor before using essential oils topically.
Which essential oils are good for hypothyroidism?
Although essential oils will not help cure the condition, they may well help with a number of the most common symptoms. Essential oils can help deal with aching joints, fatigue, stress, depression and dry skin which are common symptoms of an under active thyroid. Some of the best oils include peppermint, clary sage, cedarwood, lemongrass and rose geranium essential oil.
What foods are good for hypothyroidism?
According to research, people with hypothyroidism may benefit from increasing their intake of proteins. (3)
Food rich in the following minerals can also help:
Iodine : Iodine is essential for the body to produce thyroid hormones and people who are deficient in iodine are at an increased risk of the illness. (4) Try adding food rich in iodine to your diet including seaweed, dairy, eggs and fish.
Selenium : Selenium plays an important role in activating thyroid hormones. (5) It also has antioxidant properties that can help protect your thyroid gland against free radical damage. Food rich in selenium includes Brazil nuts, sardines, tuna and various legumes.
Adding selenium-rich foods to your diet is a great way to boost your selenium levels. This includes Brazil nuts, tuna, sardines, eggs, and legumes.
Zinc : This mineral also helps to activate the thyroid hormones. (6) While a zinc deficiency is rare in the developed world, it is likely that a person with an underactive thyroid can benefit from eating food rich in the mineral. These include shellfish, chicken and beef.
To treat hypothyroidism with an essential oil, it is best to apply the oil in a diluted form with a carrier oil. Usually, you will want to use either jojoba oil or coconut oil.
Essential oils that are used to treat hypothyroidism are helpful in reducing inflammation and invigorating thyroid function. As long as you religiously use the oils in a diluted form, you will see good results. Not only will you feel better and more alert but you can participate in activities without feeling tired. Use the oils to keep you feeling well when performing any daily activities.
Before you begin a course of treatment, check with your doctor about using essential oils for your sluggish thyroid. You may want to combine the treatment with a change in your diet. Ask your doctor if you can speak to a nutritionist so you can design a daily meal plan. By taking these steps, you will feel better about your progress and will see results.
Treating the condition with the right essential oils will give you the motivation to follow a diet that will make you feel healthier and more active overall. Take time to review the selection that is featured online. Make sure that the oil you choose is 100% organic to reap the best effects.