Are Essential Oils Tomorrow’s Diabetes Solutions?

July 25, 2014
Nutritional Outlook, Nutritional Outlook Vol. 17 No. 7, Volume 17, Issue 7

USDA researchers uncover diabetes-related secrets behind rosemary, oregano, and marjoram extracts.

Forget the potential of essential oils as preservatives for a moment, because researchers at the USDA and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign think some of these plant extracts may actually help control diabetes. The American Chemical Society has a brief on this and has published the team’s results in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

In testing a variety of plant products, researchers discovered that oregano, rosemary, and marjoram extracts all have the ability to inhibit enzymes DPP-IV and/or PTP1B. These enzymes control insulin production in humans, and thus the production of blood glucose-a major factor in diabetes management. Because the researchers say commercial diabetes drugs perform in much the same fashion-inhibiting these enzymes-further supporting research on essential oils could one day open up a new market for alternative and cheaper diabetes management or even treatment.

Growing conditions for the plants may influence the ability of their extracts to perform on insulin-related enzymes, but further research is needed to flesh this out. For the purpose of this study, the researchers sourced each extract from both greenhouse harvests and commercially grown herbs. While there was no clear indication that growing methods influenced each plant’s ability to provide enzyme-inhibiting solutions, greenhouse herbs did contain more polyphenols (gallic acid) and flavonoids (rutin).

Previous research has already suggested potential for herbs to help lower blood glucose, but more work is needed.

Photo ©iStockphoto.com/mashuk

 

Robby Gardner

Associate Editor

Nutritional Outlook magazine

robby.gardner@ubm.com

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