diabetesOn several occasions I have been asked about what essential oils one could use with diabetes.  Here is some research and information I found.

One study published in 2004 :

Effects of a novel formulation of essential oils on glucose– insulin metabolism in diabetic and hypertensive rats: a pilot study by N.Talpur, B. Ingram, D.Bagchi, H.Preuss
Background: Insulin resistance and its most severe form type 2 diabetes mellitus are rapidly increasing throughout the world. It is generally recognized that natural products with a long history of safety can increase insulin sensitivity.
Aims: The present investigation examined the ability of various combinations of essential oils such as fenugreek, cinnamon, cumin, oregano, etc. to enhance insulin sensitivity. As a first approximation, we examined the effects of these natural products on Zucker fatty rats (ZFRs), a model of obesity and insulin resistance, and spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHRs), a model of genetic hypertension.
Material and Methods: Water or essential oils were given orally via droplets, and insulin sensitivity was estimated by systolic blood pressure (SBP) changes and circulating glucose and/or insulin concentrations.
Results: We have found that the ability to alter SBP in rat models is the most sensitive early index of insulin sensitivity. The combined essential oils lowered circulating glucose levels and SBP in both ZFRs and SHRs, suggesting that these natural products are enhancing insulin sensitivity. The second series of studies examined two additional combinations of essential oils along with the original formula. The major differences were in the types and proportions of individual oils contributing to a given formula.

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Conclusions: Although all the three formulae decreased SBP in ZFRs, one of the formulae was more effective than the others in lowering circulating glucose in the glucose tolerance testing. Accordingly, some essential oils may be added to the long list of natural products that can affect insulin sensitivity.

In an article appearing on Diabetes Spectrum, Jane Buckle says:

Whereas there is some evidence that the oral intake of herbs such as Asian ginseng (Panax quinquefolius), fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum), and aloe (Aloe vera) may improve glucose tolerance, aromatherapy does not make this claim. Also, there is no suggestion that essential oils can cure diabetes (type 1 or type 2). However, essential oils can be used to reduce the side effects of some complications (i.e., ulcers, loss of skin integrity) and to reduce infections that often take longer to resolve than in nondiabetic patients. Essential oils can also ameliorate the stress of coping with a lifelong chronic condition such as diabetes. Aromatherapy has a long history of use for stress reduction, and aromatics have been used in many cultures to enhance quality of life. Nurses have used inhaled essential oils to help reduce their patients’ stress. Essential she recommends for stress include: Roman Chamomile, Neroli, Petitgrain, Lavender, Mandarin, Geranium, Rose and Sweet Marjoram.

She goes on to say that Aromatherapy holds at least as much potential for use with people who have diabetes as for use with those who do not have diabetes. Health care professionals can enhance their patients’ lives by either obtaining training in clinical aromatherapy or referring patients to people who have such training. She says that aromatherapy can be beneficial either when used in conjunction with medical treatment (such as for wound healing) or when used to encourage general relaxation. The potential for even greater positive benefits exists, for as our patients’ aches, pains, and stresses are relieved, so may their physical health be less challenged, with resultant improvements in their blood glucose levels. Making our patients more comfortable, whether through the healing of an infection, the amelioration of a sore muscle, the lessening of neuropathic pain, or the reduction of psychological stress, can improve their overall quality of life.

While most of the articles I was able to find were consistent in suggesting that the use of essential oils were best used to help decrease the side effects often associated with diabetes, I did come across a couple of interesting personal stories.

According to the Sweet Diabetic: Many studies have been done on the medicinal properties of Cinnamon Essential Oil. These studies suggest that it is anti-inflammatory, anti-clotting, and anti-microbial. It has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels in people with Type 2 Diabetes. Tests have also shown that it helps to lower cholesterol and triglycerides as well. Just the smell of Cinnamon Essential Oil can help to boost brain activity and alertness.

I did find this paper on Cinnamon and diabetes:

Effect of cinnamon on postprandial blood glucose, gastric emptying, and satiety in healthy subjects Joanna Hlebowicz, Gassan Darwiche, Ola Björgell and Lars-Olof Almér, From the Departments of Medicine (JH, GD, and L-OA) and Radiology (OB), Malmö University Hospital, University of Lund, Lund, Sweden
Background: Previous studies of patients with type 2 diabetes showed that cinnamon lowers fasting serum glucose, triacylglycerol, and LDL- and total cholesterol concentrations.
Objective: We aimed to study the effect of cinnamon on the rate of gastric emptying, the postprandial blood glucose response, and satiety in healthy subjects.
Design: The gastric emptying rate (GER) was measured by using standardized real-time ultrasonography. Fourteen healthy subjects were assessed by using a crossover trial. The subjects were examined after an 8-h fast if they had normal fasting blood glucose concentrations. GER was calculated as the percentage change in the antral cross-sectional area 15–90 min after ingestion of 300 g rice pudding (GER1) or 300 g rice pudding and 6 g cinnamon (GER2).
Results: The median value of GER1 was 37%, and that of GER2 was 34.5%. The addition of cinnamon to the rice pudding significantly delayed gastric emptying and lowered the postprandial glucose response.
Conclusions: The intake of 6 g cinnamon with rice pudding reduces postprandial blood glucose and delays gastric emptying without affecting satiety. Inclusion of cinnamon in the diet lowers the postprandial glucose response, a change that is at least partially explained by a delayed GER.

A couple of other sites suggest that Coriander, Fennel and Dill may help to lower blood sugar without drugs, while Cypress can also be helpful as it improves circulation and circulation of the extremities can be a problem for diabetics.

So while I couldn’t come up with a proven protocol for using essential oils with diabetes, it would certainly appear that there are some oils that one could consider incorporating into one’s lifestyle when faced with diabetes, or the side effects brought about by this conditions.

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