Read on to learn more about which oils may benefit people with diabetes, how to use them, and what precautions to take.
Essential oils, aromatherapy, and diabetes
Essential oils are concentrated versions of certain compounds in plant matter.
A person can easily find an essential oil in the peel of a citrus fruit. Peeling an orange, for example, releases the essential oil, spreading the scent of fresh oranges.
Aromatherapy involves inhaling or otherwise absorbing compounds from these oils for medicinal purposes.
The body can readily use many of these compounds. Since ancient times, people have used essential oils in various ways, and some of their compounds have formed the basis of several Western medications.
The following essential oils may help reduce the effects of diabetes.
Coriander seed essential may help lower blood sugar levels.
Coriander seed essential oil may also help in the fight against diabetes. In a study from 2009, scientists found that an extract from coriander seed reduced blood sugar levels in rats with diabetes.
The researchers noted that the beta cells in the pancreas were more active after using coriander seed oil. This may help increase insulin levels and reduce blood sugar.
Coriander seed oil is available for purchase online.
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) essential oil may help people with high blood sugar levels, according to a study published in 2015. Researchers found that the essential oil of lemon balm helped encourage cells to consume glucose.
The team carried out the test in a lab, not with humans, but it suggests that the oil may be beneficial for blood sugar levels when a person uses it in a diffuser or applies it to the skin.
Lemon balm essential oil is available for purchase online.
The team discovered that the oil reduced levels of enzymes in the pancreas in a way that may combat diabetes.
Also, they noted that clove bud essential oil might specifically help manage or prevent features of diabetes that result from oxidative stress.
This occurs when the body does not produce enough antioxidants to battle free radicals, which are unstable molecules that damage cells throughout the body.
Clove bud essential oil is available for purchase online.
People have used black seed, or Nigella sativa, in traditional medicine to treat many conditions, including diabetes.
Scientists tested the effects of Nigella sativa seed and its essential oil on diabetes in a rat model and reported their findings in 2014.
They concluded that both the seed and essential oil could be useful treatments for high blood sugar and the issues that come with it.
The researchers also found that Nigella sativa is rich in antioxidants that may help reduce the risk of diabetes complications that result from oxidative stress.
Using black seed essential oil, alongside a varied and healthful diet, may help reduce blood sugar to safe levels.
Black seed essential oil is available for purchase online.
People with type 2 diabetes often have high blood pressure and circulatory problems.
A 2013 study found that essential oil from a common kitchen spice, black pepper, might help manage or prevent type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
The researchers noted that the oil contains a lot of antioxidants and that it may help block certain enzymes that may contribute to diabetes and high blood pressure.
Black pepper essential oil is available for purchase online.
Helichrysum and grapefruit
Weight management is a key factor in controlling type 2 diabetes symptoms. While being overweight does not cause every case of diabetes, it can increase the risk or make symptoms worse.
Losing weight is a first-line treatment for many people with diabetes. This involves exercise and changes to the diet, but essential oils may help.
According to a study published in 2015, when rats with obesity consumed extracts of either Helichrysum or grapefruit as supplements, they gained less weight and had fewer signs of inflammation and less excess insulin than rats who did not consume any supplements.
Future research may show that both Helichrysum and grapefruit can help people lose weight if they use these extracts properly.
For example, after a workout, a massage with a base oil that contains Helichrysum or grapefruit essential oils may help promote relaxation and weight loss.
Cinnamon essential might improve insulin sensitivity and other features of diabetes.
Cinnamon is a popular spice in desserts and other aromatic dishes. Its flavor seems to boost sweetness without adding more sugar.
Also, research suggests that it may help people with diabetes. Before publishing their findings in 2010, scientists determined that cinnamon may benefit insulin sensitivity, sugar and fat levels, inflammation, blood pressure, and even body weight.
Regularly consuming cinnamon and using the essential oil may help control some features of diabetes in some people.
Cinnamon essential oil is available for purchase online.
Lavender essential oil has numerous uses in traditional and Western medicine, and according to research published in 2013, it may help relieve diabetes symptoms.
Researchers found that in animal experiments, lavender essential oil helped balance high blood sugar levels and protect against oxidative stress, which causes complications in people with diabetes.
Lavender oil is available for purchase online.
How to use essential oils for diabetes
A diffuser is one way of using essential oils.
Diabetes is a complex disease that may respond to aromatherapy, which is the practice of using essential oils as treatment. However, it may not help or be safe for everyone.
There are various forms of aromatherapy, but it is always important to follow directions carefully to avoid any adverse effects.
Inhaling and applying to the skin are the two main ways of using oils. receptors in the nose and capillaries of the lungs pick up the particles of many essential oils and carry them into the bloodstream.
- In a diffuser: Add a few drops of essential oil to an aromatherapy diffuser and take long, deep breaths of the vapor. The aim is to allow beneficial compounds to enter the body. A diffuser spreads the particles of oil through the air.
- Inhaled directly: Float a few drops of oil on some hot water to make an individualized diffuser.
- On a piece of cotton: Put a few drops on a piece of cotton or tissue and inhale.
- Diluted on the skin or in a massage: Some particles may be small enough to pass through the skin, where they may enter the bloodstream or provide localized treatment. Always dilute an essential oil in a carrier oil, such as sweet almond oil.
As part of a massage, oils can also help a person relax, reducing stress levels.
People can also apply diluted essential oils to bath salts, lotions, or wound dressings.
Not all oils are healthful for everyone, whether in a diffuser or on the skin.
For example, some oils can irritate the lungs and be dangerous for people with breathing problems, such as asthma.
Below are some health considerations for different methods of aromatherapy:
In a diffuser
People with asthma should not use essential oils, as they can cause irritation and trigger potentially life-threatening symptoms. Anyone who experiences breathing problems when using essential oils should stop using them at once.
Pregnant women, children, and pets may also experience adverse reactions, and a person should consider them before using a diffuser.
On the skin
It is crucial to dilute an essential oil, by mixing it with a carrier oil, before using it on the skin. For example, add a few drops of essential oil to 1 ounce of olive oil, coconut oil, or almond oil.
Before using a diluted essential oil mixture, try applying a dime-sized amount to the forearm to check for allergies. If no indications of allergies appear after 24–48 hours, it should be safe to use the diluted oil.
In 2018, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences noted that some essential oils, including lavender, contain substances that may disrupt hormonal activity when people apply them to the skin. This may lead to the unwanted growth of breast tissue in prepubescent males.
Never swallow an essential oil, as many are toxic.
Essential oils may help people with diabetes as an accompaniment to their regular treatment. However, research has not yet confirmed that any essential oil effectively treats diabetes, and some uses may not be safe.
People who use these oils should do so in addition to their regular treatment and consider the precautions mentioned above.
It is best to speak to a doctor before using essential oils, and a person should not use them on or around children without first seeking medical advice.
When a person uses them safely, essential oils may help combat diabetes, including its symptoms and side effects.
Regardless of a person's treatment plan, it is important to learn as much as possible about the disease, as this can improve outcomes and lead to a better quality of life.