Lately I have been getting a lot of questions regarding essential oils. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not an expert in this area, although recently I have done a good amount of research on essential oils, and I figured it was time to write an article on this topic. As I discuss these essential oils, you’ll notice that many of them have similar benefits. For example, many of the essential oils I discuss have anti-inflammatory properties, which can greatly benefit people with Graves’ Disease and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. However, this doesn’t mean that if you have an autoimmune thyroid condition that you need to take all of the essential oils with anti-inflammatory properties.
It’s important to understand that while numerous essential oils have anti-inflammatory properties, most of them have other benefits as well. And so while there might be some overlap between different essential oils, no two oils are exactly alike. And not everyone will respond the same to each essential oil. For example, one person might have a favorable response to myrrh oil, but when someone else tries it they notice that it doesn’t seem to help too much. Of course not having a positive experience with one essential oil doesn’t mean that other essential oils won’t be beneficial. And it’s also important to understand that the quality of the essential oil is important.
What I’d like to do now is discuss five essential oils that can benefit many people with thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions. Keep in mind that this list isn’t all-inclusive, as there are many other essential oils that can be beneficial, although the ones listed below have a good amount of research supporting their benefits.
1. Lemongrass. Although there are numerous ways in which lemongrass can benefit one’s health, with regards to those with thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions, lemongrass is especially useful for its anti-inflammatory and antifungal effects. One study showed that lemongrass oil inhibited the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL1 beta and IL-6 (1). Another study concluded that lemongrass essential oil and its constituents (citral and geranial) may be a therapeutic candidate for allergic and inflammatory diseases (2). It also appears that lemongrass essential oil may have anticancer activity (3). Another study showed that lemongrass essential oils has antifungal effects against Candida albicans, C. tropicalis, and Aspergillus niger (4).
2. Myrrh. Some sources claim that rubbing two or three drops of myrrh oil on the thyroid gland on a daily basis can help support thyroid health, especially in those with hypothyroidism. I couldn’t find any research showing that myrrh can directly benefit thyroid health. However, in most cases it won’t hurt to give this a try, and if anyone reading this has noticed an improvement in their thyroid health by using myrrh oil please feel free to share your experience in the comments section below. Perhaps the improvement is due to the anti-inflammatory effects of myrrh, as the research does show that myrrh can reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines (5) (6), which can help reduce the autoimmune response, and this in turn might benefit people with autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
3. Frankincense. Frankincense is one of the main essential oils used for immune system health. This is mainly due to the boswellic acids, which are the active compounds of frankincense (7). The chemical structure of boswellic acids is similar to steroids, although their actions are different from most painkillers and NSAIDs (7). Although I couldn’t find anything in the literature which shows that frankincense has a direct effect on thyroid health, just as is the case with myrrh oil, some people claim that rubbing frankincense oil directly on their thyroid gland has helped to improve their thyroid hormone levels, and in some cases even shrink thyroid nodules. I can’t say that I have patients who have experienced this, but if anyone reading this has had a positive experience with frankincense that relates to thyroid health then please share your experience in the comments section below
But even if frankincense doesn’t have a direct effect on thyroid health, because most thyroid conditions are autoimmune, then using this essential oil can arguably help people with both Graves’ Disease and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. One specific study showed how the boswellic acids in frankincense can help to reduce Th17 cytokines, which are a factor in autoimmunity (8). The same study showed that it can also increase regulatory T cells, which help to suppress autoimmunity (8). Another study showed how one of the boswellic acids in frankincense is a potent inhibitor of 5-lipoxygenase, which is an enzyme responsible for inflammation (9). In addition to helping with inflammation, frankincense might also benefit people with brain and memory conditions, along with asthma, skin conditions, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, and cancer (10).
4. Geranium. This essential oil has numerous benefits, but with regards to those people with thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions, its anti-inflammatory and antifungal effects are two of the more important properties. A few studies reveal the anti-inflammatory effects of geranium essential oil (11) (12). However, I would rely more on the other essential oils I have discussed thus far for inflammation, and would recommend this essential oil more for helping with candida infections, which is a common problem with my patients. One study showed that two of three geranium oil constituents (geraniol and geranyl acetate) exhibited anti-candida activity (13). Another study showed that the vaginal application of geranium oil or its main component, geraniol, suppressed candida cell growth in the vagina and its local inflammation (14). Another study showed that the essential oil not only resulted in the complete inhibition of Candida albicans, but it also showed anti-microbial activity against both gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria (15).
5. Lavender. This probably is the most well known of the essential oils I have discussed. And lavender has many different benefits. One study showed that lavender can protect against diabetes and oxidative stress (16). Many know that lavender has a calming effect, and one study showed that lavender aromatherapy had a beneficial effect on insomnia and depression in women college students (17). Many people with thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions have sleep issues, and so lavender oil might help in some of these cases. Lavender also has anti-inflammatory effects, as a study showed that lavender essential oil inhibited inflammation induced by lipopolysaccharides (18). Another study showed that lavender has antioxidant, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory effects (19). There is also evidence that lavender has antimicrobial effects (20), and also has antifungal activity (21).
Other Essential Oils:
Although I focused on five specific essential oils in this blog post, this of course doesn’t mean that other essential oils can’t be beneficial to your health. Other commonly used essential oils include melaleuca (tea tree oil), peppermint oil, clove oil, thyme oil, lemon oil, and marjoram.
How Do You Apply These Essential Oils?
When I first started learning about essential oils, one of the first questions I had was “how do I apply the essential oils”, and “what dosage do I use?” In most cases you need only a very small amount of essential oil for a therapeutic effect to take place. For example, one or two drops of these oils is frequently all someone needs. Essential oils are usually diluted with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil or olive oil. Other examples of carrier oils include avocado oil, sesame oil, and evening primrose oil. Using the carrier oils reduces the chances of skin irritation occurring when the essential oils are applied topically. And in case if you were wondering, diluting the essential oil with a carrier oil shouldn’t alter its therapeutic properties.
In summary, essential oils have some wonderful benefits, and you might want to consider incorporating them. Myrrh oil and frankincense are two of the more well known essential oils with regards to thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions. And while some claim that they have a direct effect on thyroid health, the research shows that they have a greater effect on immune system health. I also discussed the benefits of lemongrass, geranium, and lavender, although there are many other essential oils which can benefit your health. I’m admittedly still learning about essential oils, and if you are interested in learning more about it then you might be interested in attending the free online essential oils summit.