You’ve probably heard about essential oils. They’re popular in homeopathic medicine and can also be enjoyed as aromatherapy.
If you have diabetes, you might be wondering if you can promote healthy blood sugar levels more naturally with things like essential oil.
Several essential oils might benefit you as an adjunct to your diabetes treatment plan.
What are essential oils?
Essential oil is an extract of a potentially beneficial plant. It is much more concentrated in scent and active ingredients than the original plant.
Essential oils have been used for thousands of years. They are used as homeopathic remedies in place of traditional Western medicine. Some people enjoy using essential oil as aromatherapy instead of synthetic and artificial scents.
The essential oil can be made by steam or water distillation or through cold pressing. With steam/water distillation, water or steam is pressed through the plants to extract the beneficial compounds. Cold-pressing doesn’t use heat but instead uses force to mechanically extract the compounds out of the plant.
Some manufacturers will add a carrier oil to make diluted essential oils. Diluted essential oils aren’t pure essential oil, but might be better tolerated when applying topically.
10 best essential oils for diabetics
1) Coriander seed
Coriander essential oil has been studied for its potential ability to support healthy blood sugar levels. According to a study, diabetic rats given coriander had improvements in their blood glucose level. Coriander helped improve insulin secretion in diabetic rats.
If you have type 2 diabetes, your body might not secrete enough insulin. While there aren’t studies on the use of coriander in human diabetic patients, these results are potentially promising for people with type 2 diabetes since coriander helped to increase insulin secretion.
Cinnamon is one of the more well-known herbal remedies that might help improve blood sugar levels. In a study, cinnamon oil helped improve plasma glucose in diabetic rats and promoted insulin secretion via the beta cells of the pancreas.
Cinnamon oil also improved cholesterol, triglyceride, and certain kidney function indicators. If you have type 2 diabetes, you’re also at greater risk of having high cholesterol, so these results are promising for their potential benefits.
Lavender essential oil is one of the most popular for aromatherapy. Lavender oil might help promote a sense of relaxation and reduce symptoms of anxiety.
A small study on humans found that an essential oil blend including lavender (along with ylang-ylang and bergamot) helped lower blood pressure levels. High blood pressure is a common diagnosis among diabetes patients, so those results are significant.
4) Lemon balm
Type 2 diabetes is associated with increased inflammation. Lemon balm (melissa officinalis) contains antioxidant flavonols that can help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation.
A study found that lemon balm improved fasting blood glucose, hemoglobin A1c, triglycerides, HDL cholesterol, systolic blood pressure, and measures of inflammation (C-reactive protein).
5) Clove bud
According to a paper in Circulation Research by the American Heart Association, oxidative stress plays a vital role in the development of diabetic complications.
Clove bud has antioxidant properties and helps to combat oxidative stress. Researchers conclude that clove bud oil might help prevent oxidative stress-induced type 2 diabetes in an animal study.
6) Eucalyptus oil
Eucalyptus has been used to manage diabetes mellitus in South America, Africa, and Iran. It also contains anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, which is why some use eucalyptus oil to promote wound healing and fight inflammation.
Eucalyptus improved insulin secretion and reduced blood sugar levels in mice induced with diabetes via the use of streptozotocin. Researchers conclude that eucalyptus “represents an effective antihyperglycemic dietary adjunct for the treatment of diabetes.”
7) Nigella sativa oil
Nigella sativa, or black seed oil, is used as medicine in many parts of the world. Nigella sativa has been shown to lower high blood sugar and increase insulin levels.
A scientific article concluded that Nigella sativa oil could be used to treat hyperglycemia and reduce inflammation by acting as an antioxidant.
8) Black pepper
Piperine is the active ingredient in black pepper. Certain doses of piperine have been shown to lower blood sugar in animal models.
Insulin resistance is the primary cause of type 2 diabetes. Piperine in black pepper has improved insulin resistance and has anti-inflammatory properties.
9) Peppermint oil
Yet another study on diabetic rats treated with streptozotocin to induce type 2 diabetes found that peppermint oil helped increase serum insulin levels and lower blood glucose.
10) Frankincense oil
Frankincense oil is commonly used to improve the appearance and texture of your skin. It can help prevent scarring in wounds.
If you have diabetes, you might have issues with delayed wound healing, so applying Frankincense might aid in the wound healing process.
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How to use essential oils for diabetes
Essential oils should be used as an adjunct treatment along with other lifestyle habits. Most of the studies on essential oil for diabetes are on animal models, not humans. That means that while there is potential for them to be effective, they shouldn’t replace any diabetes medications you’re already taking.
Essential oils can be used orally, topically, or inhaled as aromatherapy or respiratory treatment. If you choose to use essential oils orally, be sure the type you buy is meant for oral use.
If you’re applying essential oils topically, you might need to dilute it with a carrier oil. Olive oil and coconut oil are popular carrier oils to make diluted essential oil. Applying certain essential oils straight to your skin might cause burning or another skin reaction.
If you’re using essential oil to help manage your diabetes, be sure to monitor your blood glucose levels so you can assess if the essential oil is beneficial.
Many people enjoy diffusing essential oils in their home. Apply a few drops of essential oil in clean water in a diffuser. Start with diffusing for 30-60 minutes at a time to assess its impact. If you choose to diffuse your essential oil, ensure your space is well ventilated.
Always keep essential oils away from children and pets. Certain essential oils are toxic to pets, including eucalyptus oil, peppermint oil, and cinnamon oil.
Don’t apply photosensitive oils when you’re going to be in sunlight. Photosensitive oils can severely burn your skin and include citrus oils like lemon, lime, grapefruit, orange, tangerine, and bergamot.
Be sure to wash your hands after handling essential oils. If you touch your eye after handling essential oil like peppermint, it can burn your eyes.
Most of the studies on essential oils and diabetes have been done on animal subjects. However, the results can still be promising regarding potential benefits for managing diabetes in humans.
You shouldn’t replace your diabetes medication with essential oils because it could result in high blood sugar. However, you can safely add essential oils to your lifestyle by following the recommendations of the essential oil manufacturer. You can gauge the effectiveness of essential oil by regularly monitoring your blood sugar to monitor any changes.