Essential Oil’s Organ of the Month (Pretend it is September): Lemongrass and the Thyroid
“You can’t eat [literature], that’s the problem,” he said. “I’ve tried, it’s very dry, and not at all nutritious.” ~ Kenneth Oppel
Apologies for the lapse in time and lack of presence on this blog. It’s been a couple weeks of chaos, but regardless, I am here now! To close up this past month I am going to spend time discussing the Endocrine System and its buddy the thyroid. There is going to be a lot of content this time around. So, if you find yourself getting lost along the way, take a break and cook yourself a little snack as a concentration tactic. Hopefully I won’t be boring you that much though! My goal is to make this an easy read as well as an informative one.
“What is the Endocrine System, and what does it have to do with EOs?” Good question fellow followers. The Endocrine System oversees the cell-to-cell communication using chemical signals that bind to receptor molecules. It includes all glands that secrete chemical messengers called hormones. Goodness knows that we have enough of those traveling around at any given moment. Hormones move away from the glands in blood or tissue fluid, and they alert the metabolism to act in a certain manner by affecting only a particular group of target cells. Unlike their nerve impulse counterparts, hormones act over a relatively long versus short period of time. The organ within the Endocrine System we will be focusing on is the thyroid as mentioned (likely) a few too many times. However, this system includes the Hypothalamus, Pituitary, Parathyroid, Adrenals, Pancreas, Reproductive(s), and Thymus.
Turning our attention to the details of the thyroid we’ll start with its location, attributes, and function. The thyroid Gland is a vascular structure that consists of two large lobes connected by a broad isthmus. It is located just below the larynx on either side of the trachea as well as in front of it. A capsule of connective tissue covers the gland and is comprised of many secretory components known as follicles. The cavity within the follicles are lined with a single layer of cubical epithelial cells, filled with a viscous substance called colloid, and produce and secrete hormones that may be stored in the colloid or released into the blood by neighboring capillaries. These follicular cells of the thyroid synthesize two hormones: Thyroxine (T4) and Tri-iodothyronine (T3).
Thyroxine contains four atoms of iodine. It increases the rate of energy released from carbohydrates, the rate of protein synthesis, the breakdown and mobilization of lipids, and is stimulated from the anterior pituitary gland. Tri-iodothyronine includes three atoms of iodine. It is five times more potent and attributes to the same outcomes as Thyroxine. Both of these hormones help regulate the metabolism of carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins. They are the major factors in determining how many calories the body must consume at rest in order to maintain life (Basal Metabolic Rate [BMR]). Simply put, without these two hormones normal growth and development wouldn’t occur; T4 and T3 are essential to the nervous system maturation.
BREAK TIME! Here’s some noteworthy facts to chew on: up to 80% of the iodine in the body is in the thyroid Gland, and the concentration of iodine is 25 times that of the blood stream.
Okay, that was a long enough break. Time to push forward! Another hormone associated with the thyroid Gland includes Calcitonin. Calcitonin is not often considered to be attributed to the thyroid, but regardless, it lowers blood calcium and phosphate ion concentrations by inhibiting the release of calcium and phosphate ions from the bones and increasing excretion of these ions through the kidney.
Now that we have wrapped up the separate hormones it is time to cover the Parathyroid (PTH). This particular attribute of the thyroid is located on the posterior surface of the gland. There are four Parathyroids in total and are associated with each of the thyroid’s lateral lobes. Each is covered by a capsule of connective tissue that gives it a yellowish-brown hue. These little suckers increase blood calcium concentration, decrease blood phosphate ion concentration, affects the bones, kidney, and intestine, are rich in mineral salts, inhibit the activity of osteoblasts, cause the kidneys to conserve blood calcium and excrete more phosphate ions in the urine, and stimulate calcium absorption from food to the intestine.
Alright, now that we have covered all of the specifics of the thyroid, its attributed hormones, and its actors it is time to segue into what can go wrong and how EOs can offer some help. I am sure that you all have heard (at least in some point in time) the words Hyperthyroidism and Hypothyroidism, right? Well, if not, I am offering a quick lesson. If it isn’t quick I give you permission to seek out some cat videos on YouTube before you make your way back to this post.
Many thyroid disorders produce overactivity or underactivity of the glandular cells; Hyperthyroidism is over activity and Hypothyroidism is under activity. Hyperthyroidism produces an elevated metabolic rate, restlessness, overeating, protrusion of the eyes due to tissue swelling, and enlarged glands that may or may not result in a goiter (neck bulge). Hypothyroidism, through some knowledge of words, produces the opposite adverse effects. However there is another disorder and it is referred to as Hyperparathyroidism. This occurs in the event that a tumor in the parathyroid gland is present and increases PTH secretion. Osteoblast activity is simulated, and as bone tissue is reabsorbed, the bones soften, deform, and become more easily fractured. An excess of calcium and phosphate is released and are then deposited in abnormal places. To say the least, it is not a pleasant disorder. Kidney stones are not far out in the future if a person is diagnosed with this disorder. Regardless of the disorder, the thyroid is the master control for the metabolic function of every cell in the body. It has the power to disrupt every part of your body and produce serious changes in every aspect of your life including disease, mood, weight gain, and low energy.
I am sure I could keep going with obscure medical diagnoses related to the thyroid, but I would rather offer a holistic approach to prevent or assist in the event your glands are not functioning as smoothly as you would like them to. EOs, as a broader gesture, help keep the body in homeostasis and work towards restoring and maintaining balance. EOs are not a cure, but you would be surprised at how many bodily issues can be resolved with the use of high quality, pure essential oils. Due to the molecular composition of EOs they are easily absorbed into the bloodstream. Take note here of two topical EO protocols for an underactive thyroid:
Blend #1, Week #1:
- Lemongrass (1 part)
- Myrrh [or] Peppermint (1 part)
- Carrier Oil (1 part)
Combine all in a 5 ml bottle. Apply topically over thyroid area, and add a few drops of Frankincense on top of the blend while applying. Massage three times daily, and feel free to target the big toe as well (it is a reflexology point for the thyroid).
Blend #2, Week #2:
- Zen (1 part)
- Geranium (1 part)
- Carrier Oil (1 part)
Combine all in a 5 ml bottle. Apply topically over thyroid area, and before I repeat everything, do the same as indicated for Blend #1, Week #1.
Alright ladies and gentleman. That’s all she wrote! Not literally though, because I am going to continue wrapping this up in a neat little bow so that we all feel as if we have reached a conclusion to this past month of September. Either this same week or next Wednesday you can expect a grand October kickoff. We will be extending EOs to include Hydrosol. Which, before I continue on tangent and its following definition, tune in and expect an update sooner as opposed to later. Happy thoughts and cooking juju sent your various ways!
~ Suzy Brown, Nutrition Practitioner & Personal Chef ~