Your brain needs energy, in the form of glucose or blood sugar, to support your balanced brain chemistry and the prevent neurodegeneration.
Brain activities such as thinking, memory, and learning are closely linked to glucose levels and how efficiently your brain uses this fuel source. What’s more, any kind of brain injury or compromised function leads to increased glucose demands.
Your brain accounts for 2% of your body weight, but it consumes as much as one-third of all the sugar energy in the body. This is because your brain is rich in nerve cells, or neurons, which have an incredibly high energy demand, requiring continuous delivery of glucose from blood. If there isn’t enough glucose in the brain, the brain’s chemical messengers, known as neurotransmitters, are not produced and communication between neurons breaks down. Similarly, when neurons in a certain region in the brain lose the ability to use glucose efficiently as a fuel, your brain cells begin to atrophy, contributing to neurodegeneration.
The Importance of Balancing Blood Sugar
Supplying glucose to your brain is a delicate balancing act, requiring just the right amount. Blood sugar imbalances occur when your blood sugar swings out of a normal, steady range.
Blood sugar imbalances can present as symptoms including, fatigue, depression, anxiety, insomnia, poor brain function, and chronic pain. For example, low blood sugar levels (reactive hypoglycemia) can contribute to brain fatigue, impacting attention and cognitive function or make you feel nervous, lightheaded, anxious, spacey or irritable.
High blood sugar can trigger an inflammatory response, leaving you feeling lethargic or drowsy. The inflammatory cascade triggered by excessive blood sugar in the brain can also impact your mood, contributing to feelings of depression, anxiety, or irritability.
Constant fluctuation in blood sugar levels throws your body into a state of chronic stress, adding fuel to your inflammatory fire. When your adrenal glands, which are responsible for releasing the stress hormone cortisol, become stressed, they release excess cortisol which can trigger an increased production of inflammatory proteins associated with a heightened immune response. Your cortisol rhythms are also associated with blood sugar stability. Excess blood sugar can result in chronically high cortisol levels, which can damage and atrophy an area of the brain known as the hippocampus that plays an important role in memory and brain function.
Stabilizing your blood sugar in the brain may help stabilize many autoimmune, inflammatory, and brain-based disorders.
How Do You Know if Your Blood Sugar is Out of Balance?
Any change of your energy is a sign of a blood sugar problem.
More specifically, when your blood sugar is low, not enough glucose gets to your brain, contributing to brain degeneration and poor function, including fatigue When low blood sugar impacts brain function you may feel spacey, lightheaded, shaky, or irritable. This symptoms may present if you go too long without eating because your brain isn’t getting enough fuel to function properly.
To balance blood sugar in the brain, it’s important to observe how eating impacts your energy and brain function. If energy and focus is enhanced after eating, you are likely dealing with low blood sugar. When blood sugar is balanced in the brain, eating should not impact energy and function.
Other symptoms of low blood sugar levels include:
- Craving for sweets between meals
- Irritability and lightheadedness if meals are missed
- Dependency on caffeine, carbohydrates or sugar for energy
- Irritability or becoming light headed if meals are missed
- Dependency on coffee
- Eating to relieve fatigue
- Feeling shaky, jittery, or tremulous
- Feeling agitated and nervous
- Become upset easily
- Poor memory, forgetfulness
- Blurred vision
This checklist reveals more blood sugar imbalance symptoms and the appropriate essential oils.
Symptoms of High Blood Sugar
Although the brain needs glucose, too much of this energy source can be a bad thing. In fact, a 2012 study linked excess glucose consumption to memory and cognitive deficiencies.
This is because high levels of glucose in your blood triggers your pancreas to secrete the hormone insulin to carry the sugar out of your bloodstream and into your cells where excess blood sugar is converted into fat for storage.
Chronically high blood sugar leads to chronically high levels of insulin. Over time, your cells become overwhelmed by insulin and fail to properly respond, developing a resistance to the constant onslaught of insulin, known as insulin resistance.
As a result, insulin can’t usher glucose into your cells, depriving them of energy. At the same time, too much sugar and insulin circulate throughout your bloodstream contributing to inflammation and throwing off hormones and neurotransmitters, which negatively impacts your brain. Excess insulin also reduce the brain’s ability to clear out amyloid plaques which contributes to Alzheimer’s disease.
A common symptom of insulin resistance is becoming extremely sleepy after eating. This is because of the effects of the excess sugar and insulin surge on the brain’s neurotransmitters, as well as the high energy demand of converting sugar into fat. Insulin’s key function in your brain is helping your brain utilize glucose, so when the brain becomes resistant to insulin it does not assimilate glucose properly .
Blood sugar imbalances can also interfere with your neurotransmitters, like serotonin activity, and can contribute to symptoms of depression. Insulin resistance also throws your “pleasure and reward” neurotransmitter dopamine off balance which can trigger low dopamine feelings of hopeless, worthless, or feeling unmotivated, and short-tempered. Finally, insulin resistance in the brain has been tied to Alzheimers disease as the enzyme that gets rid of insulin once it has been used also gets rid of amyloid proteins.
If these amyloid proteins are not cleared away properly, as seems to be the case with insulin resistance, the brain does not appear to produce more of them which contributes to Alzheimer symptoms.
Other Signs and symptoms of high blood sugar:
- Fatigue and drowsiness after meals
- Intense cravings for sweets after meals
- Constant hunger
- General fatigue
- Waist girth equal to or larger than hip girth
- Craving for sweets not relieved by eating them
- Frequent urination
- Increased appetite and thirst
- Difficulty losing weight
- Migrating aches and pains
- Trouble falling asleep
Your Brain’s Role in Balancing Blood Sugar
New research suggests that the brain plays a key role in glucose regulation which makes sense given how glucose dependent it is. More specifically, research suggests that blood sugar regulation depends on a partnership between the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas, known as the pancreatic islet cells, and neuronal circuits in the hypothalamus and other brain areas that are intimately involved in maintaining and regulating normal blood glucose levels.
The research specifically tested how neurons in the hypothalamus impact glucose metabolism and found that the brain-centered system for regulating blood sugar levels, known as the gluco-regulatory system, plays a key role in glucose homeostasis and may act independently from the action of insulin.
For example, the brain is believed to promote glucose uptake in tissues by stimulating what is called “glucose effectiveness”, a process that is believed to account for almost 50 percent of normal glucose uptake. What’s more, both the brain and the pancreas may compensate for failure of the other.
Impairment of the brain-centered system is common, and it places an increased burden on the islet-centered system. For a time, the islet-centered system can compensate, but if it begins to fail, the brain-centered system may de-compensate further, causing a vicious cycle that ends in diabetes.
To restore normal glucose regulation requires addressing the failures of the brain-centered system through remedies that target the brain to help balance blood sugar challenges. Read more about Healing the Brain with Essential Oils HERE.
How Essential Oils Balance Blood Sugar in the Brain
There is growing research regarding the application of essential oils to help manage blood sugar levels to a healthy range. For example, research has found olfactory receptors in pancreatic cells that release insulin and modulate glucose metabolism.
In other words, our sense of smell, triggered by using volatile essential oils, can play a powerful role in blood sugar balance. What’s more, a medical researcher at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is testing a blood sugar management tool through the olfactory channel. The nasal spray called intranasal insulin (INI), enters the brain through the olfactory channel and binds to receptors in the brain, including the hypothalamus, to deliver accessible insulin to the brain, which then allows glucose into the cells to improve signaling within these memory networks and enhance cognitive function.
“In a pilot study, Novak and her colleagues found that a single dose of INI had a positive effect on memory, verbal learning, and spatial orientation.”
As the brain plays a key role in blood sugar regulation and the sense of smell is the easiest channel into the brain, essential oils are quickly gaining momentum as an ideal remedy to balance blood sugar within the brain.
5 Essential Oils to Balance Blood Sugar in the Brain
To keep blood sugar levels in the brain balanced, it helps to support the regions of the brain, along with the organs associated with blood sugar regulation in addition to healthy diet and lifestyle choices.
For example, consider the following essential oils to support the organs of blood sugar balance.
Hypothalamus™: Neurons in the hypothalamus play an important role in blood sugar regulation, so returning the hypothalamus to balance may help restore normal glucose regulation. To help return the hypothalamus to the balance, apply 1 drop of Hypothalamus™ to the forehead right above the third eye (right above the nose between eyebrows and hairline) up to 6 times daily. Read More about balancing the Hypothalamus and brain hormones HERE.
Parasympathetic™: Research shows that Parasympathetic activation helps to balance blood sugar, by reducing glucose release and increasing pancreatic insulin secretion. The inability to shift into the parasympathetic state leads the liver to continuously release glucose. It is important to shift our of the “fight or flight” state of emergency into the parasympathetic “rest, digest and heal” state to turn off the release of emergency blood sugar.
What’s more the Parasympathetic™ blend contains several key ingredients known to keep blood sugar under control. Research has shown that the phenol concentration found in clove oil helps regulate insulin, by increasing the secretion of insulin and improving the function of cells that produce insulin.
Topically applying the Parasympathetic™ blend on the vagus nerve behind the on the neck may help balance blood sugar.
Pancreas™: Your pancreas releases insulin to transport excess sugar from your bloodstream into your cells. As more and more cells receive glucose, blood sugar levels return to normal. Pancreas™ oil facilitates this normal function of the pancreas. Pancreas™ can be applied over the pancreas (left side of the body two-thirds of the way up from the belly button towards the ribs. If you put your hand on your belly button and move over to the left then up until you feel the ribs, your hand will be over the pancreas).
Interestingly research has found that olfactory receptors are expressed in pancreatic β-cells and promote glucose-stimulated insulin secretion and modulating systemic glucose metabolism.
Adrenal™: When blood sugar drops too low, your adrenal glands go into emergency action mode, releasing the hormone cortisol to provide your body with emergency blood sugar. Over time, the adrenals become taxed and exhausted from efforts to stabilize blood sugar. Fatigued adrenal glands can struggle to produce and release adequate levels of cortisol, which in turn throws off the body’s balance of blood sugar.
Apply 1- 2 drops of Adrenal™ on the adrenal glands (on the lower mid-back, one fist above the 12th rib on each side) to help balance blood sugar.
Liver™: The liver acts as the body’s glucose (energy) reservoir and helps to maintain steady and constant blood sugar levels by balancing the uptake, storage, and release of glucose, depending on the body’s need for energy. More specifically, excess glucose is removed from the blood and converted into glycogen (the storage form of glucose), which is stored in the liver. When blood sugar levels drop, the liver initiates a process called glycogenolysis, where glycogen is converted back into glucose, or by converting other sugars into glucose, gradually releasing it into the bloodstream until levels approach normal range. Finally, the liver produces ketones from fats when glucose is in short supply.
- Adrenal™ available here
- Hypothalamus™ available here
- Liver™ available here
- Pancreas™ available here
- Parasympathetic™ available here