Hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones. This endocrine disorder affects all bodily systems' functioning, and it is more frequent in women than men.1 One of the most common symptoms of hypothyroidism is fatigue, an ongoing and persistent tiredness and lack of energy regardless of sleep quality.
Aromatherapy is a complementary therapy consisting of the use of essential oils derived from herbs for symptom relief from various ailments. Studies have shown its benefits in reducing depression, stress, anxiety, pain, and insomnia as well as improving overall quality and outlook on life.2
This study aimed at investigating the use of aromatherapy for fatigue in women with hypothyroidism.
This randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trial, performed by a team from Franklin School of Integrative Health Sciences and Middle Tennessee State University (United States of America), recruited women between the ages of 18 to 55 who were diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Participants were randomized into two groups: the first group inhaled a blend of essential oils, while the second group breathed in an odorless blend of vegetable oil.
Fatigue scores were measured before, during, and after the study using the Multidimensional Fatigue Symptom Inventory (MFSI). MFSI's further comprised of 10 subscales: global, somatic, affective, behavioral, cognitive, general, physical, emotional, mental, and vigor.
Compared to the control group, participants that inhaled the herbal blend showed significant improvements in fatigue scores in all ten subscales. The greatest effects were observed in subscales of global, general, and affective fatigue.
What Does this Mean?
Being the first study that aimed to investigate the benefits of using aromatherapy for hypothyroidism-triggered fatigue, the results are promising as they validate the use of complementary therapies, like aromatherapy, for relieving the symptoms of hypothyroidism as well as give millions of women struggling with fatigue an easy and side effect-free option to improve their quality of life once and for all.
It is important to keep in mind that this study does not suggest that aromatherapy could potentially replace medications that are conventionally used to treat hypothyroidism. To date, the go-to treatment consists of thyroid medications to restore adequate hormone levels and prevent potentially life-threatening complications.
- Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine, Aromatherapy reduces fatigue among women with hypothyroidism: A randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial, 2019
- American Thyroid Association. (2015). Clinical Thyroidology for the Public. Retrieved November 6, 2019 from https://www.thyroid.org/patient-thyroid-information/ct-for-patients/volume-8-issue-8-aug-2015/vol-8-issue-8-p-3-4/
- Mayo Clinic. (2017). What are the benefits of aromatherapy? Retrieved November 6, 2019 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/expert-answers/aromatherapy/faq-20058566