Can Essential Oils Help With Diabetes?

By Diane Sanders

 

Can Essential Oils Help With Diabetes?

As essential oils become more accepted in western medicine, there are more and more studies being conducted on how to incorporate them with some of the leading diseases seen in our times. Of those diseases, diabetes is one that can benefit from their use.  As a disease, diabetes has grown to “epidemic” proportions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 29 million Americans have diabetes.  And one in four people with the disease doesn’t know that they have it.  So how can essential oils help?

 

What Is Diabetes?

Let’s first start with defining diabetes.   Diabetes is a disease in which the body’s ability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin is impaired, resulting in abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates and elevated levels of glucose in the blood and urine.[1]

There are two main types of the disease. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Some of the causes that may trigger this response may include exposure to a virus, genetically modified foods (GMOs), vaccines, heavy metals, or certain foods like milk, wheat, and soy.[2]

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes and is caused by insulin resistance, which is generally due to a person’s genetics and also having an unhealthy lifestyle and dietary habits.

The most common complications from diabetes include high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, neuropathy, Alzheimer’s disease, and in extreme cases, amputations.[3]

With the right dietary and lifestyle measures, plus supplementation, when necessary, studies have shown that type 2 diabetes can be reversed. So how can essential oils help? Let’s begin by looking at a couple of studies that have been done incorporating essential oils.

 

Clinical Studies Using Essential Oils

There have been several studies that have shown very promising conclusions on the use of essential oils.  This is very exciting because it means more is to come!  These studies give people confidence in using the oils, so it’s critical to become familiar with them so you can refer to them when speaking to people.

A 2009 study that used three drops of cinnamon essential oil three times per day concluded that this oil is a viable blood-sugar-focused therapy, as it possesses anti-hyperglycaemic properties and the potential to reduce postprandial blood glucose levels.[4]

Another study in 2014 found that lavender oil not only lessened lab-induced diabetes in animals but also improved body weight and protected the liver and kidneys from degeneration in laboratory animals.[5]  I found it interesting that the liver and kidneys were protected, probably due to lavender’s effect on reducing and helping stress levels stay balanced.

One prominent study out of Georgetown in 2005 took note of the benefits of synergy when they studied essential oils and diabetes.  Instead of isolating a single oil for their research, they experimented with blends of multiple oils that have been suggested as beneficial for diabetes. Oils named in summary included:[6]

 

  • Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum)
  • Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)
  • Cumin (Cuminum cyminum)
  • Oregano (Origanum vulgare)

These blends were able to improve insulin sensitivity when taken internally, which can be replicated by including oil blends diluted into a carrier and consumed in capsules, drinks, and recipes.

Like cinnamon, another essential oil that is regarded as anti-diabetic is Melissa essential oil. The results of this study, in particular, were published in 2010. Of the mice that received a low-dose, heavily diluted amount of Melissa essential oil, markers of diabetes were reduced in multiple facets. The researchers concluded that Melissa “administered at low concentrations is an efficient hypoglycaemic agent, probably due to enhanced glucose uptake and metabolism.[7]

There several other studies showing how essential oils can help with diabetes, these are only a couple.  But you can see that these oils work and that it only takes minute amounts of these potent oils to make a potentially substantial difference for those battling blood sugar imbalances!

 

Side Effects of Diabetes

When you have diabetes, not only are you struggling with insulin issues and blood sugar levels, but you’re also dealing with other problems such as heart health, immune health, oral health, skin health, and respiratory health, to name a few. So all the body systems are interconnected.

Using what we know about essential oils to boost these systems and potential complications, we can counter the effects of diabetes while managing the source of the issue with medication, diet, and lifestyle. The applications are endless.

 

Safety and Contraindications

When it comes to drug interactions and contraindications, there are many textbooks devoted to the study of essential oil safety. Some say one thing, another says something different. I think it’s important to note that there is virtually no research out there that I could find discussing how essential oils interact with drugs in human clinical trials. This means that essential oil safety is still a wild frontier in the science community and no one knows (for certain) how essential oils will interact with drugs or your body.

Nonetheless, properly diluting your essential oils is fundamental to safety and effectiveness because they are highly concentrated plant compounds. Also, informing people of possible contraindications with medication, they are taking would be the right thing to do.

 

Conclusion

The most important thing to keep in mind with essential oils is that they are a complementary treatment. Essential oils shouldn’t be expected to relieve a person’s diabetes symptoms on their own.

Essential oils can be used right along with a balanced program of diet, exercise, lifestyle choices, and medical treatment options. It is always best to discuss treatment options that include essential oils with both the doctor and certified aromatherapist.

When used with knowledge and respect, essential oils may be useful in the fight against diabetes and its symptoms and side effects.

[1] Dictionary.com

[2] (2016, November). Symptoms & Causes of Diabetes, https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/symptoms-causes

[3] Mayo Clinic Staff (2014, July). Diseases and Conditions Diabetes, Complications, http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/basics/complications/con-20033091

[4] Kirkham, s., Akilen, R., Sharma, S., Tsiami, A. (2009, December). The potential of cinnamon to reduce blood glucose levels in patients with type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. Diabetes Obes Metab. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19930003

[5] Sebai, H., Selmi, S., rtibi, K., Souli, A., Gharbi, N., Sakly, M. (2013, December 28). Lavender (Lavandula stoechas L.) essential oils attenuate hyperglycemia and protect against oxidative stress in alloxan-induced diabetic rats. Lipids Health Dis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3880178/

[6] Talpur, N., Echard, B., Ingram, C., Bagchi, D., Preuss, H. (2005, March). Effects of a novel formulation of essential oils on glucose-insulin metabolism in diabetic and hypertensive rats: a pilot study. Diabetes Obes Metab. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15715893

[7] Chung, MJ., Cho, SY., Bhulyan, MJ., Kim, KH., Lee, SJ. (2010, July). Anti-diabetic effects of lemon balm ( Melissa officinalis) essential oil on glucose- and lipid-regulating enzymes in type 2 diabetic mice. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20487577


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