With our changing food habits and sedentary lifestyle diabetes is ever-becoming much more commonplace. You could probably name at least one person you know, who suffers from this disease. Diabetes is a widespread metabolic, chronic illness that has affected around 10% of our population. There is an estimated 8 million people that are likely to have diabetes but haven’t been diagnosed.1
How Diabetes Affects The Body
Just to refresh you on what diabetes is and how it works, we can look to the American Diabetes Association for a summary on diabetes, type 2:2
If you have type 2 diabetes your body does not use insulin properly. This is called insulin resistance. At first, your pancreas makes extra insulin to make up for it. But, over time it isn’t able to keep up and can’t make enough insulin to keep your blood glucose at normal levels.
On the other hand, type 1 diabetes is genetic and behaves differently:3
In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. The body breaks down the sugars and starches you eat into a simple sugar called glucose, which it uses for energy. Insulin is a hormone that the body needs to get glucose from the bloodstream into the cells of the body.
There is no cure for diabetes, but with the proper diet and lifestyle, it can be managed.
Aromatherapy and Diabetes
Aromatherapy has a lot to offer – with oils that benefit insulin response and others helping to ease the symptoms of diabetes. The key is to always think out of the box regarding essential oils and diabetes.4
If you are exercising to lose weight and relieve your diabetes, then diffuse essential oils that can energize and potentially benefit your weight loss. If you’re trying to heal a wound and diabetes is in the way, an antiseptic and healing oil in a topical formula can help you.
Essential oils are best used as integrative components to help battle diabetes.
How Do Essential Oils Help?
One unique way to help manage your diabetes is by using essential oils. Surprisingly, they can be used to:
- improve insulin sensitivity
- manage body composition
- improve overall digestive wellness.
It’s always best to know the disease itself before adjusting our habits and taking supplements. For example, if you use essential oils to help improve insulin sensitivity, you must also understand that exercise can have a similar or an even better effect. That being said, for a type 1 diabetic, no amount of insulin sensitivity will correct a lack of insulin.
Note: Diabetes can have very serious and life-threatening complications, from poor wound healing to cardiovascular risks. Never adjust your medications without the guidance of your physician, and if you suspect you may be diabetic, schedule a consultation with your doctor right away.
6 Ways Essential Oils Help In Diabetes Management
1. Lowers Blood Sugar
Cinnamon is one of the most researched botanical products for diabetes relief. It is a group of trees whose leaves and inner bark are distilled for its essential oils or the bark which is harvested as a spice. There are varieties of cinnamon trees, including C. cassia, which we simply refer to as cassia for its essential oil.
Powdered cinnamon has long been a kitchen remedy that can help deal with blood sugar and diabetes. The powdered spice of cinnamon has a great deal of focus placed on it for pancreatic support, glucose lowering, weight loss, and diabetes prevention and management.5 In 2013, an evaluation of cinnamon leaf essential oil found that “all tested doses of [cinnamon essential oil] significantly lowered fasting blood glucose and fructosamine.”6 The researchers believe that pancreatic support is most likely the mechanism that leads to blood sugar benefits.
We don’t have the exact research and studies to tell us how to get cinnamon’s full potential for diabetic wellness, but we do have some helpful tidbits:
- Internal use seems to be the most effective.
- Cinnamon in all forms appears to lower blood sugar.
- A little dab will do!
Takeaway: Cinnamon essential oil can be used in an arsenal of culinary weapons against glucose. One or two drops for an entire day is safe and sufficient. Dilute it into a lipid and include it in your recipes; remember that cinnamon oil is strong and can cause irritation if not used properly.
Make sure to monitor your blood sugar when using cinnamon, and consult your doctor before taking medication. Your body may respond too well to cinnamon’s strengths!
2. Increases Insulin Sensitivity
The best thing about essential oils is its ability for synergy, which is when combinations of oil come together to create an even stronger effect. That’s why we tend to make blends and formulas for better results.
A prominent study at Georgetown in 2005, discussed the benefits of synergy when studying essential oils and diabetes. Instead of using a single oil for their research, they used multi blends of oils that were beneficial for diabetes. These oils include7:
- Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum)
- Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)
- Cumin (Cuminum cyminum)
- Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
The blends helped improve insulin sensitivity when taken internally, and can be replicated by including oil blends diluted in a carrier and consumed in capsules, drinks, and recipes.
On a side note, it’s no accident that culinary herbs help improve the way we digest and use food! God’s medicine has always been on our dinner plates!
Takeaway: Now that you’ve discovered that oils can be (a) used internally and (b) used to improve insulin sensitivity and other symptoms, pre-mix your dilution and experiment by adding a few drops of each oil you’d like to blend into a 5 ml or 10 ml bottle of carrier oil.
3. Helps In Glucose Regulation
Just like cinnamon, there are other herbs that have similar anti-diabetic effects and Melissa oil is one of them.
Melissa essential oil was tested on mice to precisely track its actions and potential benefits. Lab tests revealed the composition of oil, then how it is received in the body, and lastly how the human body responds in different circumstances.
The results of this study were published in 2010 with exciting news that a mouse that received a low-dose, heavily diluted amount of Melissa essential oil, showed reduced markers of diabetes. Researchers concluded that Melissa “administered at low concentrations is an efficient hypoglycaemic agent, probably due to enhanced glucose uptake and metabolism.”8
It only takes a small amount of these potent digestive health oils to make a substantial difference for those battling blood sugar imbalances.
Takeaway: A drop is enough, when included in blends or diluted on its own for digestive assistance and potential glucose regulation. As with all hypoglycemic/anti-diabetic substances, make sure to monitor your levels carefully and work with your doctors.
4. Reduces The Side Effects Of Diabetes
Diabetes is much more than how cookies or cakes are digested. The whole body can and will be affected any time nutrient use is involved. Complications of diabetes can include:
- Heart health
- Oral health
- Respiratory health
- Skin health
- Immune health
This means that diabetes is a case study in the ways that each bodily system is intertwined with the other. Using the knowledge about essential oils to boost these systems and help potential complications, you can counter the effects of diabetes while taking medications, dieting, and managing your lifestyle.
We can get creative with healing oils for skin health, oral health, clear breathing, and antimicrobials. For a more specific view at how essential oils comprise complementary therapy, a systematic review had this to say regarding the research conducted:9
Essential oils can be used to reduce the side effects of some complications (ulcer: loss of skin integrity) and to reduce that which often takes longer to resolve, than in non diabetic patients. Essential oil[s] can also ameliorate the stress of the coping with a lifelong chronic condition such as diabetes.
Takeaway: The complications of diabetes can occur throughout the body, and essential oils can help counter these issues and support the body’s processes. Look for anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and stress relieving oils to start your essential oil medicine cabinet.
6. Improves Quality Of Life For Kids
Let’s not forget kids who are affected by diabetes. Diabetes isn’t about who ate too many sugary treats as they got older; thousands of kids can be affected too. Many of them spend their lives in and out of the doctor’s office getting poked and prodded. Some even receive injections daily.
Research published in August 2015, found that essential oils can help relieve some of the stress and physical pain for kids with diabetes. Thankfully (and unsurprisingly), markers for pain relief were noticed thanks to diffused orange and lavender oils.10The oils are notable for their anxiety-relieving properties, which contribute to quality of life for kids who are faced with more than they should have to handle.
Takeaway: Diffusion of oils can help with anxiety and relief and also direct pain, even the most gentle of oils can help be helpful.. Diffuse oils during times when you feel pain or when frustrating procedures are necessary, or place drops on a handkerchief or your personal inhaler to sniff when needed.
Korean Pine For A New Scent With Strong Benefits
Aside from culinary herbs, you can still maintain anti-diabetic benefits while branching out. Korean pine (Pinus koraiensis) has exhibited potential for diabetes relief. Korean pine essential oil comes from the needles of evergreen pine trees. It’s the perfect addition to a blend of anti-diabetic oils that we’ve seen so far.
In 2013, researchers used this oil, in vitro, by injecting the oil into lab mice. The results were promising, and had effects on the body that improved glucose levels.11 We won’t be telling you to inject essential oils into your body, but this demonstrates that there is a wide range of oils that can be anti-diabetes tools.
Don’t restrict yourself from other diabetes-fighting blends, and look for oils like Korean Pine to mix with your own. If you can’t take it internally, then diffusion or direct inhalation can help introduce the oil into your routine.
The applications for essential oils are endless! If you or a loved one is diabetic, learn about the various uses of essential oils, and begin incorporating them into your life. The healing, restorative, and preventative benefits can become your best ally.
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|↑1||Type 2. American Diabetes Association.|
|↑2||Type 2. American Diabetes Association|
|↑3||Type 1. American Diabetes Association|
|↑4||Aromatherapy and Diabetes. American Diabetes Association.|
|↑5||Qin, Bolin, Kiran S. Panickar, and Richard A. Anderson. “Cinnamon: potential role in the prevention of insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes.” Journal of diabetes science and technology 4, no. 3 (2010): 685-693.|
|↑6||Lee, Shih-Chieh, Wen-Xin Xu, Li-Yun Lin, Jia-Jung Yang, and Cheng-Tzu Liu. “Chemical composition and hypoglycemic and pancreas-protective effect of leaf essential oil from indigenous cinnamon (Cinnamomum osmophloeum Kanehira).” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 61, no. 20 (2013): 4905-4913.|
|↑7||Talpur, N., B. Echard, C. Ingram, D. Bagchi, and H. Preuss. “Effects of a novel formulation of essential oils on glucose–insulin metabolism in diabetic and hypertensive rats: a pilot study.” Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism 7, no. 2 (2005): 193-199.|
|↑8||Chung, Mi Ja, Sung-Yun Cho, Muhammad Javidul Haque Bhuiyan, Kyoung Heon Kim, and Sung-Joon Lee. “Anti-diabetic effects of lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) essential oil on glucose-and lipid-regulating enzymes in type 2 diabetic mice.” British journal of nutrition 104, no. 02 (2010): 180-188.|
|↑9||Pandey, Awanish, Poonam Tripathi, Rishabh Pandey, Rashmi Srivatava, and Shambaditya Goswami. “Alternative therapies useful in the management of diabetes: A systematic review.” Journal of Pharmacy and Bioallied Sciences 3, no. 4 (2011): 504.|
|↑10||Małachowska, Beata, Wojciech Fendler, Agnieszka Pomykała, Szymon Suwała, and Wojciech Młynarski. “Essential oils reduce autonomous response to pain sensation during self-monitoring of blood glucose among children with diabetes.” Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism 29, no. 1 (2016): 47-53.|
|↑11||Joo, Hye-Eun, Hyo-Jung Lee, Eun Jung Sohn, Min-Ho Lee, Hyun-Suk Ko, Soo-Jin Jeong, Hyo-Jeong Lee, and Sung-Hoon Kim. “Anti-Diabetic Potential of the Essential Oil of Pinus koraiensis Leaves toward Streptozotocin-Treated Mice and HIT-T15 Pancreatic β Cells.” Bioscience, biotechnology, and biochemistry 77, no. 10 (2013): 1997-2001.|