Circulatory health is vital for everyone’s well-being, especially diabetics. Luckily, dry brushing with essential oils can be done at home in minutes.
Diabetes and circulatory health
Poor circulation is one of the greatest dangers associated with diabetes. Blood flow problems stemming from type 1 and type 2 diabetes are linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and damage to sensory nerves in the hands and feet, which in turn can lead to serious complications and even, in some cases, amputation.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that improved circulation is something that anyone can achieve with a little effort. One great (and often overlooked) way to increase circulation—aside from getting regular exercise and eating artery-clearing foods such as oatmeal and walnuts—is to dry brush regularly with essential oils.
Dry skin brushing with essential oils is actually two therapies combined: dry brushing and aromatherapy. The first of these, dry brushing, is the process of systematically and gently brushing the skin with a soft-bristled brush or loofah. Brushing begins at the feet and works its way up along the entire body in regular strokes, always in the direction of the heart.
According to registered aromatherapist April Farrall of Angelscents Holistic Healing, dry brushing is a great way to stimulate the body’s circulatory and lymphatic systems, while also improving digestion and rejuvenating the nervous system, thus improving muscle tone. Dry brushing, says Farrall, allows the skin to breathe, making it smoother and healthier and even reducing cellulite.
Aromatherapy, the second part of the treatment, is the therapeutic use of aromatic essential oils derived from plants. Essential oils are commonly used to ease pain, improve mood, and treat an array of specific conditions, from psoriasis to insomnia.
They are also used to bolster the body’s circulatory system and improve skin, says Farrall. “Essential oils affect the circulatory system by dilating the blood vessels, thereby allowing the blood to flow.” Some essential oils she recommends for aiding blood flow and combatting dry skin include juniper, geranium, cypress, and lavender.
We can receive the benefits of essential oils in several different ways. They can be inhaled, spread over the skin (either directly or in lotion form), or diluted in a bath and absorbed while soaking. For dry brushing with essential oils, Farrall suggests first dry brushing with a few drops of peppermint oil blend directly on the brush, then rubbing essential oils on the skin. Remember, though, that essential oils should never be used undiluted and should always be mixed in a little all-natural carrier oil, such as jojoba oil. Farrall recommends that pregnant women or people with allergies or high blood pressure consult a professional aromatherapist prior to use.
The benefits of combining
While dry skin brushing and aromatherapy are each stand-alone circulatory treatments, they are even more effective as a pairing. “Much better absorption of essential oils will be accomplished by exfoliating the skin and increasing blood flow through first dry brushing,” says Farrall.
There are several ways to combine dry brushing with aromatherapy. One way is to brush the body and then apply the essential oils topically, while another is to brush the skin, then slip into a bath suffused with essential oils. Still another option is to place a few drops of essential oils directly on the brush.
Whatever the method, be sure to dry brush before bathing or showering, as afterward the brushing will be less effective, even after towel drying. Bathing after dry brushing will also remove any lingering dead skin.
How to dry brush with essential oils
As noted above, there are several options for applying the essential oils portion of the treatment, and Farrall insists, “There really is no right or wrong way [to dry brush], as long as all direction flows toward the heart.” The following is one common method of dry brushing with essential oils.
- Begin with dry skin and a dry, soft-bristled brush or loofah. Be sure that the brush is made of natural fibres, as synthetic fibres can damage the skin.
- Place a few drops of essential oil on the brush (Farrall recommends peppermint). Remember to dilute the pure essential oil with a carrier oil (see sidebar below for blend ratios).
- One foot at a time, brush from the sole of the foot to the top of the foot, toward the ankle. It doesn’t matter if strokes are long or short, but always brush toward the heart.
- Brush upward one leg at a time, first along the back, then the front, keeping clear of delicate areas such as the skin on the inside of the thigh.
- Brush along each arm, starting at the fingertips and moving toward the heart.
- Switching to the back, brush around the torso toward the stomach, one side of the back at a time.
- On the stomach, brush upward from the lower abdomen, ending at the chest (avoiding the nipples).
- Once brushing has been completed, rub the chosen essential oil blend (see sidebar) over your skin.
- Shower or bathe, sloughing off any remaining dead skin cells.
Completing the session will take only a few minutes, leaving the skin and circulatory system cleansed and refreshed.
Essential oil blends for circulation and dry skin
Remember to always use a carrier oil (almond, olive, grapeseed, or jojoba) with essential oils used topically; 60 mL for each blend.
4 drops orange, 2 drops ginger, 4 drops peppermint, 3 drops rosemary
8 drops lavender, 8 drops camomile, 4 drops neroli
8 drops orange, 8 drops rosemary, 4 drops sandalwood