Fatigue, hair loss, depression, constipation, mood swings, weight gain, and a lack of zest for life are all symptoms of an underactive thyroid, also known as hypothyroidism.
Doesn’t sound like much fun, right? Not only are these symptoms difficult to live with, they’re also passed off as other health issues many times without a weak thyroid even being considered.
Not only is an underactive thyroid hard to spot by the person suffering, but it’s also easily overlooked by doctors and health professionals.
The reason? Because most thyroid tests that are conducted on patients don’t test for even slightly weak levels of T3 and T4, the two main thyroid hormones.
So if a person has even a minute decline in thyroid function, these low levels may not show up on test panels due to specific amounts that most doctors and health professionals rely on for a diagnosis. This can leave people sick, hopeless and still searching for answers for their symptoms.
Keep in mind that if you’re experiencing most of the above symptoms at once and have no other underlying health issues that could be posing a problem, it’s time to consider if your thyroid gland may not be functioning as optimally as it should. Even if your thyroid is only slightly underactive, don’t ignore your body’s way of telling you something is wrong.
First though, what is our thyroid and what exactly does it do?
Thyroid 101: the importance of this “super gland”
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that acts as a regulator in the body. It is responsible for working with your adrenal glands and other major systems of the body to manage stress, energy, and overall hormonal function.
The thyroid gland is found in the throat region and secretes two hormones known as T3 and T4. When it can’t secrete these in normal amounts as it should, the function of this gland either slows down or speeds up.
Though hyperthyroidism does occur, hypothyroidism — or underactive thyroid — is much more prevalent. Many things can suppress thyroid function, which can range from a diet full of processed foods, to not enough sleep, to chemical overload, adrenal fatigue, or even an imbalanced diet.
Nutrients needed for a healthy thyroid
Essential vitamins and minerals that the thyroid needs to function properly include selenium, magnesium, L-tyrosine (an amino acid), efficient protein, healthy fats and iodine.
It is completely possible to manage your thyroid health through a healthy diet; however, most people turn to medications to treat underactive thyroid as an easy solution. But is this the best option for the body? In short, no. Since many medications can come with a host of negative side effects, it’s always best to seek natural remedies first through a clean diet and alternative health remedies.
Turning to nature to treat underactive thyroid: the role of essential oils
Nature gave us an array of foods, herbs, and other medicinal aids that we can use for our health and well-being, including thyroid health. One of the most healing remedies that we have access to today, aside from healthy foods and beverages, is essential oils.
Essential oils are potent sources of herbs that have been extracted into a liquid form for use on our skin and scalp, or in a diffuser in our home. Food-grade essential oils can also be consumed as a tea or tincture.
We already know that foods such as coconut oil, Brazil nuts, fresh produce, avocados, and wild fish are excellent choices for thyroid health, and emerging evidence shows that essential oils are a great tool to use as well. The beneficial compounds found in essential oils may not prevent underactive thyroid, but they can have profound effects to treat the symptoms.
Let’s take a look at some of the best options!
The best essential oils to help underactive thyroid
If you suspect your thyroid is suffering, here are some essential oils you can consider implementing in your routine. As always, be sure that you select only pure essential oils and not those with cheap synthetic oils, which may harm your health. If you can purchase organic essential oils, even better.
Peppermint oil can help reduce fatigue, depression, brain fog, headaches and digestive woes associated with underactive thyroid. It is one of the most popular oils used for a host of healing remedies and is quite tasty and simple to use in your daily diet! Put a tiny drop of pure organic peppermint oil into a cup of hot water with lemon to make an instant uplifting tea, or add some to chamomile tea at night to calm anxiety, assist with digestion, and help you get to sleep.
Frankincense can help with many different symptoms of an underactive thyroid. One is a weak digestive system, specifically in the form of indigestion and constipation. According to Dr. Axe, a holistic doctor and expert in functional medicine, a tiny drop of food-grade frankincense oil taken orally may act the same way that digestive enzymes do and help to speed up the digestive process. It is also helpful for relieving dry skin associated with low thyroid function. Frankincense can also balance hormone levels to reduce stress and help you sleep better at night.
Lavender is an excellent essential oil to fight anxiety, hair loss, stress and insomnia. If you suffer from any of these issues, rub a bit of lavender oil on your pillow, use it in a diffuser, as a scalp massage with your shampoo, or add a couple of drops to a hot bath at night with Epsom salts (rich in magnesium that helps you rest) for a relaxing bedtime ritual.
Myrtle essential oil is an adaptogenic aid, which means it brings balance to the body however needed, much like maca and ashwagandha that you may have heard of. According to Dr. David Stewart, Ph.D., myrtle oil can help increase or decrease thyroid function depending on what type of imbalance occurs.
Lemongrass can help with inflammation, headaches and digestive upset associated with an underactive thyroid. Though the plant is very useful in cooking, the oil can be used just as easily. You can use lemongrass oil on your skin, bathe with it, or drop a tiny bit in some herbal tea for a soothing beverage.
This herb is a wonderful tonic for stress, digestive upset, joint pain and inflammation, and alopecia (hair loss) that can be caused from an underactive thyroid. It can be used alone or in any essential oil blend, such as Thieves (also called Healing Shield and Four Knives). The University of Maryland found that those who rubbed rosemary oil on their scalp every day for seven months while shampooing their hair saw significant hair regrowth and reduced hair loss on a consistent basis.
Grapefruit essential oil has been found to improve stress levels, metabolism, depression and focus. It is often applied topically with a carrier oil such as coconut oil for an uplifting body lotion, or it can be used in the form of a tea by adding a tiny drop to a cup of warm water.
This essential oil comes with a host of medicinal benefits. It is wonderful for helping relax the body and reduce high cortisol levels, improve cognitive function, aid in digestion, hair loss, and reduce stress. The herb sage can also be used in cooking if you prefer. However, clary sage oil is often used as a natural body treatment for the ailments listed above.
More tips to take care of your thyroid
Remember that essential oils can be helpful for treating underactive thyroid, but you should also be sure to improve your overall lifestyle and diet. Chemicals such as triclosan found in chemical cleaning and hygiene products can interfere with thyroid function, as can fluoride found in tap water and hygiene products, and heavily processed forms of soy, corn and sugar found in processed foods. Too much (or even a little) exposure to these items on a consistent basis can weaken thyroid function, exhausting the body quickly.
Remember that nature gave us exactly what we need to heal the body, so increase your intake of organic leafy greens, a variety of fruits and vegetables, raw nuts and seeds, and healthy fats like avocado, coconut, and olive oil. If you eat animal products, be sure to choose wild, pastured, organic, and/or grass-fed sources to avoid herbicides, pesticides and GMOs that can weaken the body and interfere with optimal thyroid function. Clean foods give the body just what it needs to function at its best, including thyroid health and more.
Has your body ever shown signs of an underactive thyroid? Or, have you ever used essential oils to help with underactive thyroid symptoms?
Heather McClees is a professional health journalist and Certified Holistic Nutritionist from South Carolina. She is most passionate about helping others discover the gift of holistic health, showing others how to create healthy recipes based on their favorite foods, physical fitness and yoga, and creative writing.
The Chemistry of Essential Oils Made Simple – God’s Love Manifest in Molecules, David Stewart, Ph.D., D.N.M., Integrated Aromatic Science Practitioner, Care Publications, Fourth Printing 2013, pp 60.