Hands down, the best preventative measures against diabetes include achieving a nutritious diet and maintaining a healthy weight. However, complementary medicine may also have positive benefits when combined with these important changes.
Essential oils are concentrated oils derived from plants that have been used medicinally for hundreds of years. Their high concentration of plant compounds makes them particularly potent for helping with a wide variety of ailments, from headaches to the common cold and more. Research suggests that essential oils can be added to a diabetes care plan to improve health outcomes.
Diabetes is a metabolic disease that changes how the body processes glucose, the primary sugar source for the body. In the United States, it is estimated that around 30 percent of those over the age of 18 have diabetes.
Because of the body's reduced ability to metabolize glucose, the buildup of sugars can lead to serious complications like stroke, heart disease, and cancer. Managing the condition under the guidance of a doctor is an important step in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and improving health outcomes in the long term. Natural methods like essential oils can provide helpful complementary therapy.
Using Essential Oils for Healing
Pure essential oils have been part of treatments and medical practice for hundreds of years. As research into essential oils has increased, compounds isolated from the oils have also been incorporated into a lot of Western medications.
Care should be taken when using essential oils. Most pure oils should not be ingested; it is mostly recommended to use oils topically or with an aromatherapy diffuser. The majority of topical applications should also be diluted. The most common method is a 2-3% dilution using a neutral carrier oil like almond or coconut oil. This oil blend can then be applied to pressure points on the body, like the temples or wrists, using a rollerball applicator or by rubbing the oil into the skin.
It is important to note that essential oils contain potent compounds. This is what gives them their strong effects, but it also means that children, those who are pregnant or anyone who has additional health concerns should be careful about which oils they choose to use, as some may have adverse effects for specific populations. Always be sure to research the particular oil using a reputable source like the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (www.naha.org) and talk with a doctor before using a new oil in your routine.
1. Cinnamon Bark Oil
Cinnamon is one of the most commonly used essential oils for diabetes management. Studies have shown that cinnamon can help with a variety of metabolic syndromes. Cinnamon essential oil can increase insulin sensitivity and glucose transport, making it extremely beneficial for diabetes patients who have impaired glucose transport systems.
Cinnamon oil can be found as a dietary supplement safe for oral consumption. 2-3 drops can also be added to an aromatherapy diffuser for inhalation. It should always be diluted as it is quite potent and can irritate the skin or nasal passages. Topical or oral applications of cinnamon oil are not recommended for those who are pregnant or who have particularly sensitive skin.
2. Coriander/Cilantro Seed Oil
Coriander, also known as cilantro seed, is often used for helping with digestive issues, like indigestion or diarrhea, which may be impacted in those with diabetes. However, recent studies have also suggested that coriander oil can help people with diabetes by increasing natural insulin levels and even acting as an insulin alternative for the body. This, in turn, will maintain lower glucose levels and overall aid in sugar metabolism throughout the body.
The best way to use coriander oil is topically, using a carrier oil dilution in a rollerball. It also blends well with cinnamon, bergamot, and cypress for making a rollerball blend. This blend can then be applied to the wrists or other pressure points.
3. Ylang-ylang Oil
A significant problem many diabetes have is with their circulation and general cardiovascular health. Ylang-ylang oil, while beneficial for irritability and mental health stabilization, has been shown to have a positive impact on circulation and decreasing blood pressure. This will help minimize the side effects of diabetes and improve the quality of life of those with the disease.
It is recommended to use ylang-ylang oil with an aromatherapy diffuser. It can also be applied topically with a carrier oil to the wrists or feet. It is safe to use for most populations, including those who are pregnant.
4. Clove Oil
Clove essential oil is a potent oil that has a broad range of positive health impacts. It is primarily used to combat inflammation, a condition that is strongly linked with diabetes. It also helps regulate glucose levels and balance cholesterol levels, high levels of which can lead to adverse side effects of diabetes.
Pure clove oil can be consumed orally when diluted with a carrier oil or purchased as a prepared supplement. It is also beneficial when used in an aromatherapy diffuser. Clove oil is not recommended for children or anyone taking anticoagulant medications.
5. Tea Tree Oil
An important part of diabetes disease management is wound care as those with diabetes are prone to slow healing wounds. Tea tree oil is a commonly used antibacterial and antiseptic essential oil, meaning it can help those with diabetes in the process of wound care.
When mixed with a carrier oil, tea tree oil can be applied directly to the area around a wound to encourage healing. It is a skin irritant, so a carrier oil is vital for the use of tea tree oil. However, it is safe to use for most populations, including those who are pregnant.
6. Cypress Tree Oil
Blood circulation management is an integral part of treating diabetes, and one of the most common symptoms of diabetes is poor circulation. Cypress is a well known essential oil that has been shown to have cardiovascular benefits, especially for circulation.
Diffusing cypress tree oil in an aromatherapy diffuser or application to pressure points using a carrier oil are both great ways to incorporate this essential oil into your diabetes care routine.
7. Lavender Oil
Lavender is the most commonly used essential oil as it has a wide range of properties, including antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory. A study has demonstrated that lavender essential oils can protect against oxidative stress caused by diabetes because of its antioxidant properties. Some research also suggests that lavender can help reduce blood glucose levels in those with diabetes. Lavender is also commonly used as a stress relief, which is especially crucial for anyone with a chronic disease, like diabetes.
Lavender is safe to apply topically using a carrier oil. Because it does not have irritation qualities, it can also be used in a higher concentration than other topically applied essential oils. It is also commonly used with an aromatherapy diffuser at night to improve sleep quality. Lavender oil is safe to use for most populations.
8. Nigella Seed Oil
Nigella seed oil, also known as black cumin, is a potent oil that has often used for the treatment of diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and migraines. It has been found to decrease insulin resistance and improve pancreatic health when used in tandem with anti-diabetic medications. Up to 2 grams per day of Nigella used together with medication has been shown to be beneficial.
Nigella seed oil can be used topically with a carrier if diluted. It blends well with coriander oil and is safe for most adults. One drop of the oil can also be added to a full glass of water and gargled.
Tips for Using Essential Oils
First, always start small. Use small dosages of a small number of essential oils, both to help you learn how to apply them, but also to help ease your body into using essential oils for the first time. This can mean using fewer drops of the essential oil in your carrier oil or only using an aromatherapy diffuser for 15 minutes.
Also, make sure you purchase your essential oils from a reputable supplier. Look for reviews and certifications. Always make sure you are purchasing pure oils as well unless you are buying a pre-diluted topical rollerball or ready to use blend. Always store your oils in a cool, dark place to ensure they last longer.
Finally, be sure to use an essential oil scent that you enjoy. Essential oils are supposed to be used for complementary health and using them should be an enjoyable process. Using scents that you enjoy or incorporating favorite oils like lavender in blends will help you start an essential oil routine you can commit to.