Essential Oils for Diabetes
Diabetes is a term given to a metabolic disorder brought on by a wide range of causes. Diabetes is characterized by chronic hyperglycemia with disturbances of carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism. These symptoms are a result of defects in insulin secretion, insulin action, or both. The effects of diabetes can be quite serious, causing long-term damage, dysfunction, and failure of various organs. Common symptoms associated with diabetes include thirst, polyuria (frequent urination), blurred vision, and weight loss. The symptoms of diabetes are commonly not severe, or may even be absent. This may result in pathological or functional changes in the body – due to hyperglycemia – being present for a long time before diagnosis. Diabetes increases the risk of cardiovascular, peripheral vascular, and cerebrovascular disease in people diagnosed with the condition.1
Type 1 indicates the process of beta-cell destruction that can ultimately lead to diabetes. The body’s immune system eliminates the cells which naturally produce insulin. Insulin controls the blood’s glucose levels, and helps prevent the body from developing ketoacidosis, or even slipping into a coma. Type 1 is characterized by the presence of anti-GAD, islet cell, or insulin antibodies which identify the autoimmune processes that lead to beta-cell destruction.1
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the disease. This type is characterized by disorders of insulin action and insulin secretion, either one being the predominant feature. Both disorders are commonly present at the time that type 2 diabetes is clinically manifested.1
Essential Oils for Type 1 Diabetes
If you are looking for a natural remedy for diabetes, essential oils may be the solution. Many of the health benefits associated with essential oils correlate with symptoms brought on by diabetes. Below is a list of 3 essential oils for type 1 diabetes. Use these essential oils for high blood sugar levels, and to help improve your immune system.
Also known as cilantro, coriander (Coriandrum sativum L.) is a spice cultivated around the world. Coriander seeds have been used to help treat diabetes, indigestion, and joint pain. Coriander essential oil, which is extracted from the seeds, may harness similar medicinal properties. A 2009 study showed coriander seed extract to significantly increase the insulin release activity of beta cells in the pancreas. This data shows promise for future use of coriander essential oil for diabetes.2 If you are looking for natural remedies for insulin resistance, coriander oil for diabetes may be the right oil for the job. Because cells that make insulin are found in the pancreas, use coriander essential oils for pancreas health.
Frankincense (olibanum) is taken from gum resins of Boswellia trees, and frankincense essential oil is extracted through steam distillation of this resin. One of frankincense essential oil’s benefits is its ability to stimulate the immune system. A boosted immune system may provide relief from the body’s insulin resistance, ultimately helping to relieve the weakened immune system symptom of type 1 diabetes. By stimulating the immune system, frankincense oil may also help in balancing blood sugar, because high blood sugar often affects the immune system and vice versa.
Ylang Ylang (cananga odorata) is a tropical tree most commonly found in Indonesia and Malaysia. Ylang Ylang essential oil is extracted from the flower petal of the tree. The benefits of Ylang Ylang essential oil include being able to reduce systolic blood pressure and reduce heart rate. The essential oil has also been used as a treatment for patients prone to heart palpitations and hyperventilation. Because those with diabetes often have increased blood pressure, use ylang ylang essential oils to lower blood pressure levels.
Essential Oils for Type 2 Diabetes
Essential oils and diabetes may be linked as a natural remedy and medical condition. For helping to alleviate symptoms of diabetes, essential oils are beginning to grow in popularity as a natural alternative. Below is a list of 3 essential oils for type 2 diabetes.
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) is an evergreen tree located in Sri Lanka, India, and Burma. Cinnamon has been shown to affect blood glucose and insulin signaling. A 2011 study looked to determine the effect of cinnamon extract on fasting blood glucose (high blood sugar levels) in people with type 2 diabetes and prediabetes. The study found that taking cinnamon, as a whole or as an extract, displayed significant signs of fasting blood glucose being reduced. Through the inhalation of cinnamon essential oils, blood sugar levels may be reduced, because cinnamon extract improves fasting blood glucose in people with type 2 diabetes.3 So, if you are looking for essential oils for lowering blood sugar, choose cinnamon essential oil for diabetes.
Lavender (Lavandula) is a plant native to the mountainous areas of the Mediterranean, and is cultivated from the fresh purple flowers to make lavender essential oil. Lavender essential oil has many benefits, and has been shown to decrease heart rate and blood pressure, which may help alleviate some of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes. Often, people with diabetes have high blood pressure, and are then at a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, or other health issues. Lavender may then be one of many essential oils to lower triglycerides by the way in which the oil helps to relax the body. A buildup of these natural fats and oils elevate the risk of heart disease and stroke. As a natural remedy to help manage type 2 diabetic symptoms, lavender oil and diabetes have been commonly associated together.
Oregano (Origanum vulgare L.) belongs to the Lamiaceae plant family. Oregano essential oil is extracted through steam distillation of the leaves and flower tops of the oregano plant. Oregano oil and diabetes have been the subject of many medicinal studies. In a 2006 study, oregano was one of 7 clonal lines from single seed phenotypes of the Lamiaceae family tested for management of diabetes and hypertension. Out of the 7, oregano displayed the highest alpha-glucosidase inhibition activity. Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors are drugs used to treat type 2 diabetes by preventing the digestion of carbohydrates.4 By using oil of oregano, diabetes symptoms for type 2 may be reduced.
Note: Use any of the above listed essential oils in aromatherapy for diabetes. Adding 10-15 drops of essential oil to your home diffuser is a great way to try and harness the benefits of essential oils for diabetes. You should never ingest essential oils unless you have been specifically instructed to do so by a qualified professional.
Essential Oils for Diabetic Neuropathy
Diabetic neuropathy is a frequent complication of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes; it affects over 90% of patients diagnosed with diabetes. One of the main symptoms associated with diabetic neuropathy is pain. The development of this complication is widely believed to be linked to the toxic effects of hyperglycemia. However, although there have been great advancements in understanding the pathophysiological mechanisms leading to the development of diabetic neuropathy, there is still no proven hypothesis explaining why some patients get the painful form of the disease while others do not.5
The essential oils lavender and frankincense have been linked with the ability to help control pain, and may provide relief from pain brought on by diabetic neuropathy. Lavender and frankincense may also be useful essential oils for diabetic feet, a condition where either pain or swelling occurs in the feet due to blood vessel and peripheral nerve constrictions.
Although rosemary essential oil and thyme essential oil have been linked with pain control, it is recommended to avoid these essential oils if you have diabetes. Patients diagnosed with diabetes are susceptible to high blood pressure, and any substance that may increase heart rate or blood pressure should be avoided.
Scientific Research Referenced in this Article
- Alberti, K., & Zimmet, P. (1999). Definition, diagnosis and classification of diabetes mellitus and its complications. Part 1: diagnosis and classification of diabetes mellitus provisional report of a WHO consultation. World Health Organization Department of Noncommunicable Disease Surveillance Geneva, 1-49.
- Eidi, M., Eidi, A., & Saeidi, A. (2009, March 23). Effect of coriander seed (Coriandrum sativum L.) ethanol extract on insulin release from pancreatic beta cells in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Phytotherapy Research, 23(3), 404-406. doi:10.1002/ptr.2642
- Davis, P., & Yokoyama, W. (2011). Cinnamon intake lowers fasting blood glucose: meta-analysis. J Med Food, 14(9), 884-889. doi:10.1089/jmf.2010.0180
- Kwon, Y., Vattem, D., & Shetty, K. (2006). Evaluation of clonal herbs of Lamiaceae species for management of diabetes and hypertension. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr, 15(1), 107-118. PMID:16500886
- Schreiber, A. K., Nones, C. F., Reis, R. C., Chichorro, J. G., & Cunha, J. M. (2015, April 15). Diabetic neuropathic pain: Physiopathology and treatment. World J Diabetes, 6(3), 432-444