Table of Contents
Essential oils are natural oils typically obtained through distillation and having the characteristic scent of a flower or plant from which they were extracted.
They have been used in aromatherapy for thousands of years.
Essential oils have many uses besides aromatherapy e.g. cleaning products, skin care and beauty, health support, natural medicine treatments, and many others.
People use essential oils to address a number of conditions and diseases including thyroid health support.
Although Thyroid Advisor often reviews supplements for the thyroid, throughout this post, you’re going to learn more about essential oils that benefit thyroid health.
Clary sage oil
Clary sage essential oil was initially produced for perfumery purposes only, but in the Middle Ages, the herb has found use for medicinal purposes too.
This essential oil is obtained from the herbaceous plant Salvia sclarea which is closely related to garden sage or S. officinalis.
Today, this oil is found in herbal soaps, deodorants, shampoos, face wash, and other hygienic products.
As an essential oil, clary sage helps you de-stress and relax.
Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of clary sage essential oil are particularly important if we bear in mind that thyroid disorders are strongly related to inflammation and oxidative stress.
Mancini et al found that oxidative stress is an important mechanism underlying the progress of inflammation.
Thyroid hormones can have a protective effect and modulate antioxidant levels, but hypothyroidism downplays this action.
At the same time, hypothyroidism aggravates oxidative stress and the vicious circle continues[iii].
A major benefit of clary sage oil is its potential to support hormonal balance. Lee et al carried out a study whose primary objective was to examine the antidepressant-like effects of clary sage oil on human beings.
They enrolled 22 menopausal women in their 50s into the study. Women were supposed to inhale the essential oil, then scientists measured their hormone levels.
Results showed that inhalation of clary sage oil reduced cortisol levels and participants also experienced a decline in TSH[iv].
Not only does the study show that clary sage oil reduces stress indicated by high cortisol levels, but it also supports thyroid hormones too. In one of our previous posts, we’ve discussed the impact of cortisol and stress on thyroid function.
Lemongrass is a popular ingredient in many culinary delights, particularly those coming from Cambodia, Malaysia, and Thailand. This fragrant tropical grass adds a fresh and uniquely earthy flavor to the meals and it also delivers a number of health benefits.
This plant isn’t just an ingredient, essential oil extracted from lemongrass is used as aromatherapy to alleviate muscle pain, exhibit antibacterial effects, reduce body aches, ward off insects, and to support health and function of digestive system.
Patients with thyroid supporters and persons who want to support the function of this butterfly-shaped gland can benefit from lemongrass oil thanks to its potent anti-inflammatory potential. Boukhatem et al found that lemongrass oil has the potential to alleviate inflammation, but it also has antifungal effects[v].
It is assumed lemongrass oil has different mechanisms of action in terms of alleviating inflammation. Sforcin et al showed that treatment with lemongrass oil inhibits pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-1 and IL-6[vi].
Although no studies investigated the influence of lemongrass oil on thyroid directly, Ademuyiva et al evaluated the effects of lemongrass extract on hormonal profiles. They found that effect on the hormonal profile (T3, T4, TSH) was significantly higher in administered groups compared to controls[vii].
Lemongrass alleviates headaches which are frequent in patients with hypothyroidism. Moreover, Agbafor et al report that lemongrass oil has hypocholesterolemic effects. They administered essential oil to animals and discovered they exhibited lower cholesterol levels compared to animals that didn’t receive lemongrass oil[viii]. This is particularly important if you bear in mind that hypothyroid patients tend to have high cholesterol.
Rosemary has been around for thousands of years. The herb was used by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and Hebrews. Since it belongs to the mint family, rosemary has a woody, evergreen-like scent. The oil exhibits a plethora of health benefits that benefit persons with thyroid disorders.
Rosemary essential oil is well-known for its hair growth potential, which comes handy for persons with thyroid disorders that cause hair loss.
While no research has been conducted on the influence of rosemary oil on hair growth in thyroid disorder patients, studies do show that extract from this herb promotes hair growth in persons with impaired testosterone levels[ix].
These findings give a glimpse of hope to individuals with thyroid disorders that the oil can help them too.
Filiptsova et al carried out an interesting study whose main purpose was to evaluate the effects of rosemary oil on short-term memory. Findings showed that inhalation of rosemary essential oil was strongly associated with the image memory, memorization of numbers, and overall short-term memory[x].
One of many symptoms of hypothyroidism is a weak memory and rosemary oil can help overcome this problem.
Myrrh is a resin or a sap-like substance that comes from the tree called Commiphora myrrha native to Africa and the Middle East.
The essential oil extracted from this resin is incredibly healthy and it can help support thyroid health. The ability to alleviate inflammation is the biggest reason why persons with thyroid disorders can benefit from the myrrh oil. Kim et al discovered that administration of myrrh oil inhibits inflammatory mediators[xi].
The anti-inflammatory potential of myrrh oil can be practical for persons with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis for example.
Frankincense is the dried sap of trees in the Boswellia genus, especially Boswellia sacra. These trees are native to Somalia, Ethiopia, Oman, and Yemen.
Frankincense oil is considered “king of oils” and all people who are into aromatherapy have it in their arsenal.
How can it help you support thyroid health?
Similarly, to rosemary, frankincense oil improves memory and cognitive skills. In fact, Hosseini et al discovered that this oil prevents and helps manage learning and memory difficulties associated with hypothyroidism[xii].
Frankincense oil has immune-enhancing effects that help destroy bacteria, viruses, and even cancer cells[xiii]. Since hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are usually caused by autoimmune conditions Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves’ disease respectfully, frankincense oil can help strengthen the immune system and improve its function.
Of course, more research on this subject is necessary. Hamidpour et al report that frankincense oil exhibits incredible anti-inflammatory potential[xiv].
Geranium is one of the most common flowering plants in American gardens and the oil extracted from it serves numerous purposes. Geranium oil has a calming, uplifting, and flowery scent that will not only help you de-stress but support your overall health too.
Maruyama et al discovered that geranium oil has a potential to suppress both acute and chronic inflammatory processes in the body[xv].
According to the Organic Facts, geranium oil activates microglial cells which fight against neurodegenerative diseases and, thereby, protect brain health and function[xvi].
Lavender oil is one of the most popular essential oils thanks to its subtle, yet mesmerizing scent. Benefits of lavender oil are numerous meaning it should, definitely, find its place in your collection of essential oils for thyroid health. Sebai et al discovered that lavender oil protects against oxidative stress and diabetes[xvii].
Not only is oxidative stress associated with thyroid dysfunction, but diabetes and other metabolic disorders have a complex relationship with butterfly-shaped gland too.
Korean scientists found that the use of lavender oil alleviates insomnia, improves self-satisfaction with sleep, and it successfully addresses depression[xviii]. Lavender has a calming effect and it can prevent consequences associated with unmanaged stress.
Besides antioxidant, soothing, and anti-diabetes effects, lavender essential oil also has anti-inflammatory properties according to a study carried out by Huang MI et al[xix]. Yet another reason why persons with thyroid disorders can benefit from lavender oil is that it promotes hair growth[xx].
Spearmint or garden mint belongs to the group of the most popular essential oils, but for a good reason – it’s incredibly beneficial. This essential oil exhibits analgesic effects and it can be used to treat headaches regardless of the cause.
As mentioned above, patients who suffer from some thyroid disorder tend to deal with headaches frequently. Similarly to other essential oils, spearmint oil is an effective natural remedy for people suffering from stress, anxiety, or mild depression.
Spearmint belongs to the same family as peppermint which can help stimulate hair growth[xxi]. Therefore, you can use this essential oil to stimulate hair follicles and increase circulation into the scalp to strengthen the hair and support proper growth.
Clove oil is extracted from the evergreen tree of clove which produces a flower bud with a multitude of health benefits.
Clove has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine, but it was present in many other cultures as well. Halder et al discovered that clove oil supports immune function[xxii], which is an important effect for thyroid disorder patients.
Clove oil serves as an excellent stress reliever as well. It removes mental exhaustion and fatigue while stimulating your mind at the same time.
This essential oil contains numerous flavonoids with anti-inflammatory benefits and they are also able to alleviate a headache.
How to use essential oils
The use of essential oils has been around for centuries, it’s not a modern-day trend. Essential oils mentioned above, and many others, support overall health and wellbeing in an entirely natural manner.
They fit perfectly into a holistic lifestyle and are ideal for people who want to support their health without taking too many medications.
The truth is that science still needs to catch up with traditional medicine and confirm all the benefits of essential oils, particularly regarding thyroid gland and function. It is important to mention that essential oil is not a cure and one should never use it as a replacement for prescription drugs, especially thyroid hormone replacement, such as Synthroid or Armour Thyroid.
Instead, they are just an addition, complementary tool to feel better and more relaxed.
You can inhale the essential oil or apply it topically.
It’s a good idea to apply the essential oil in the exact place where your thyroid gland is, or at the base of big toe.
Bottoms of your feet have the largest pores and they quickly absorb the oil, thus making it work faster. You can also combine more oils and use the mixture to massage it into your skin three to five times a day.
Essential oils are incredibly versatile.
They are used for perfumes, skin care products, beauty items, and as natural remedies for a wide array of health problems.
These oils can support function of thyroid gland.
More studies about thyroid and essential oils are necessary primarily because current data is more focused on an indirect relationship between them.
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[v] Boukhatem MN, Ferhat MA, Kameli A, Saidi F, Kebir HT. Lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus) essential oil as a potent anti-inflammatory and antifungal drugs. The Libyan Journal of Medicine. 2014;9:10.3402/ljm.v9.25431. doi:10.3402/ljm.v9.25431. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4170112/
[vi] Sforcin JM, Amaral JT, Fernandes A Jr, et al. Lemongrass effects on IL-1 beta and IL-6 production by macrophages. Natural Product Research 2009;23(12):1151-9. Doi: 10.1080/14786410902800681 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19662581
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[x] Filiptsova OV, Gazzavi-Rogozina LV, Timoshyna IA, et al. The essential oil of rosemary and its effect on the human image and numerical short-term memory. Egyptian Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences 2017 Jun;4(2):107-11. Doi: 10.1016/j.ejbas.2017.04.002 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2314808X16301890
[xi] Kim MS, Bae GS, Park KC, et al. Myrrh inhibits LPS-induced inflammatory response and protects from cecal ligation and puncture-induced sepsis. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2012;2012:27818. Doi: 10.1155/2012/27818 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21826187
[xii] Hosseini M, Hadjzadeh MA, Derakhshan M, et al. The beneficial effects of olibanum on memory deficit induced by hypothyroidism in adult rats tested in Morris water maze. Archives of Pharmacal Research 2010 Mar;33(3):463-8. Doi: 10.1007/s12272-010-0317 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20361313/
[xiii] Dozmorov MG, Yang Q, Wu W, et al. Differential effects of selective frankincense (Ru xiang) essential oils versus non-selective sandalwood (Tan xiang) essential oil on cultured bladder cancer cells: a microarray and bioinformatics study. Chinese Medicine 2014 Jul 2;9:18. Doi: 10.1186/1749-8546-9-18 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25006348
[xiv] Hamidpour R, Hamidpour S, Hamidpour M, Shahlari M. Frankincense (乳香 Rǔ Xiāng; Boswellia Species): From the Selection of Traditional Applications to the Novel Phytotherapy for the Prevention and Treatment of Serious Diseases. Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine. 2013;3(4):221-226. doi:10.4103/2225-4110.119723. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3924999/
[xv], [xvi] Maruyama N, Ishibashi H, Hu W, et al. Suppression of carrageenan- and collagen II-induced inflammation in mice by geranium oil. Mediators of Inflammation 2006;2006(3):62537. Doi: 10.1155/MI/2006/62537 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16951493
[xvii] Sebai H, Selmi S, Rtibi K, et al. Lavender (Lavandula stoechas L.) essential oils attenuate hyperglycemia and protect against oxidative stress in alloxan-induced diabetic rats. Lipids in Health and Disease 2013 Dec;12:189. Doi: 10.1186/1476-511X-12-189 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24373672
[xviii] Lee IS, Lee GJ. Effects of lavender aromatherapy on insomnia and depression in women college students. Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi 2006 Feb;36(1):136-43 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16520572
[xix] Huang MY, Liao MH, Wang YK, et al. Effect of lavender essential oil on LPS-stimulated inflammation. American Journal of Chinese Medicine 2012;40(4):845-59. Doi: 10.1142/S0192415X12500632 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22809036
[xx] Lee BH, Lee JS, Kim YC. Hair Growth-Promoting Effects of Lavender Oil in C57BL/6 Mice. Toxicological Research. 2016;32(2):103-108. doi:10.5487/TR.2016.32.2.103. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4843973/
[xxi] Oh JY, Park MA, Kim YC. Peppermint Oil Promotes Hair Growth without Toxic Signs. Toxicological Research. 2014;30(4):297-304. doi:10.5487/TR.2014.30.4.297. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4289931/
[xxii] Halder S, Mehta AK, Mediratta PK, et al. Essential oil of clove (Eugenia caryophyllata) augments the humoral immune response but decreases cell mediated immunity. Phytotherapy Research 2011 Aug;25(8):1254-6. Doi: 10.1002/ptr.3412 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21796701