Are Essential Oils Effective for Weight Loss?
Do you want to start losing weight but feel like your own body is fighting against you? Does the thought of making healthy lifestyle changes send your stress levels through the roof?
Essential oils aren’t some magical potion that will make you drop several pounds in a week, but by ingesting, diffusing or applying essential oils topically, you can promote weight loss by giving your body what it needs to burn fat, stay active and reduce cravings.
How Do Essential Oils Work for Weight Loss?
The therapeutic benefits and healing properties of essential oils have been known for centuries. Different cultures from all over the world, including the Egyptians, Chinese, Greeks, Romans, Indians, and more have recognized the amazing benefits of essential oils and have used them for over 6,000 years.
Depending on the forms of different plants and trees, essential oils can be extracted from the roots, bark, sap, seeds, flowers, fruits or leaves and each oil possesses its own unique set of healing properties.
Aromatherapy, the art of using essential oils to balance and harmonize the body and mind, helps to stimulate certain areas of the brain which can have a huge positive impact on your physical and mental state.
The receptors in the human nose can perceive over a trillion different smells and can actually communicate with the hippocampus and amygdala in the brain, the key areas in the brain responsible for storing emotions and memories. When essential oil molecules are inhaled, these areas are stimulated which in turn influences our physical, mental and emotional states directly and affects everything from our mood, heart rate and stress levels to blood pressure, sleep and motivation.
You may already be aware that essential oils can do wonders for stress and anxiety and although there is no replacement for a healthy diet and daily exercise to help shake the weight off, staying motivated to keep that weight off is no doubt psychological.
So whether you fight constant cravings, sugary foods, fatigue and low moods or struggle with poor digestion, sluggish metabolism and emotional eating, incorporating essential oils as a part of your weight loss program can be the missing link that drives you to maintain your weight loss goals.
How to Use Essential Oils for Weight Loss?
To feel the benefits of essential oils fast, applying them directly to the skin is the best way to use them.
Many of these oils are very potent and can damage your skin. Instead, mix a few drops with a carrier oil like almond or coconut oil before applying it topically to your skin. These carrier oils have a neutral scent and will dilute the more powerful essential oils to the point where they can be applied topically.
Develop a daily or weekly essential oil routine during your weight loss journey, or use the oils as you feel the onset of the symptoms they help combat.
For topical application, rub the oil onto your neck, forehead, temples, chest, abdomen, arms, legs, or the bottoms of your feet to feel the oil’s benefits. You can even take turns doing this with a partner for a luxurious and romantic massage. Be sure to avoid applying essential oils to sensitive areas like your ears, around your eyes and mouth, and anywhere you have broken or damaged skin.
Change up your essential oil application by adding a few drops to a warm bath or your favorite body lotion to easily apply the oil all over your body. For a more localized effect, wet a towel, add a few drops of your essential oil of choice, and use it as a hot or cold compress.
You can also use oil diffusers. They have become a popular trend in home decor. Ultrasonic diffusers release a hydrating mist into the room that contains the essential oil of your choice. This is an easy way to use your essential oils because all it requires you to do is breathe.
What Are The Best Essential Oils for Weight Loss?
1. Grapefruit Essential Oil
Grapefruit has been popular for decades in helping people lose weight and The Grapefruit Diet, also known as the Hollywood Diet, actually dates back to the 1930s.
Evidence showed that mice who were given grapefruit juice to drink gained up to 18 per cent less weight than those given water despite having fatty food for 3 months.
Extracted from the fresh peel or rind, grapefruit essential oil is an excellent appetite suppressant, detoxifier, fat dissolver and helps prevent bloating and water retention in the body.
In fact the rind, from where the oil is extracted, contains high concentrations of nootkatone, a component which activates AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). AMPK stimulates the body to use up sugar and reduces the accumulation of fat which leads to increased weight loss. Grapefruit oil activates AMPK and increased AMPK can lead to burning more fats (1).
In another study, lab rats exposed to grapefruit essential oil for 15 minutes, at least three times weekly, experienced less food intake and reduced body weight (2). Limonene, another key component of grapefruit oil, also induced lipolysis, a process where fat and protein are deconstructed by the body and dissolved, directly supporting metabolism, reducing appetite and body fat.
2. Cinnamon Essential Oil
If you know someone with diabetes who uses cinnamon or cinnamon essential oil, there’s a good reason behind it.
Cinnamon has antimicrobial, anti-parasitic, antioxidant and free radical scavenging properties. It can help lower blood glucose and serum cholesterol (3).
Evidence showed that cinnamon oil has shown excellent potential in regulating blood glucose levels and the glucose tolerance factor (GTF) in the body (4). That’s important because unbalanced blood sugar levels can lead to overeating, reduced energy levels, sugar cravings, irritability and weight gain. Also adding cinnamon oil to your food can help slow down how fast glucose is released into your bloodstream, which in the long-run will assist you in your weight loss goals.
Cinnamon leaf oil also contains eugenol, a component that can alter our neurosensory perceptions and change how we taste and smell food. This helps prevent cravings and curb overeating.
3. Ginger Essential Oil
Ginger is an excellent anti-inflammatory. This is important for weight loss because reduced inflammation leads to better absorption and digestion of nutrients.
Ginger contains a compound called gingerols. They can decrease inflammation in the intestines, improving overall absorption of vital nutrients and potentially preventing diseases. If you’re trying to lose weight, ginger oil will help you absorb the vitamins and minerals you need to boost cellular function and energy and support your weight loss goals.
Evidence showed that ginger oil possesses antioxidant activity as well as significant anti-inflammatory properties and in just a month, it increased enzyme levels in the blood of lab mice and significantly decreased chronic inflammation (5).
Another study concluded that supplementing with ginger helped to suppress obesity caused due to a high-fat diet and that ginger is a promising adjuvant therapy for the treatment of obesity (6).
Are you struggling with belly fat? Ginger oil can help! Ginger is an excellent cortisol suppressant. High cortisol levels due to a stressful lifestyle and hormonal imbalances can spike blood cortisol levels, throwing the body’s natural metabolism out of whack. These are also the most common causes of fat accumulation, especially in the belly area.
4. Peppermint Essential Oil
Used for centuries, peppermint oil has been used to treat indigestion and especially when combined with caraway oil has shown to relax stomach muscles and decrease bloating (7).
The cooling medicinal compound in peppermint oil, menthol, is excellent for improving digestion, expelling gas from the stomach and intestines and calming an upset stomach. Menthol can influence neurosensory perceptions to change how we taste and smell food, preventing cravings for sugary foods, other food cravings and curbing overeating.
Inhaling peppermint oil every 2 hours can make you feel hungry and have lesser food cravings. You can also significantly reduce your calorie intake. The oil also has an excellent positive effect on suppressing the appetite.
5. Lemon Essential Oil
Extracted from the lemon rind and containing the medicinal compound limonene, lemon oil is a natural fat dissolver. A study suggested that when combined with grapefruit oil, lemon oil supported lipolysis, the process of breaking down body fats, creating a suppression in body weight gain (8).
Lemon oil also helps to detoxify and eliminate toxins in the body that can get stored in the fat cells, prevent parasites in the intestines, and improve overall digestion.
6. Bergamot Essential Oil
Anxiety, depression and feeling low are often the major contributors when it comes to emotional eating. In the short term succumbing to your cravings may help brighten your mood but in the long run it only leads to feelings of guilt and low self-esteem, especially when you pile on the pounds.
Evidence concluded that just inhaling bergamot oil for 15 minutes can not only boost your mood but also reduce cortisol, a stress hormone that negatively affects fat loss (9).
Another study involved participants with hyperlipidemia. They were given bergamot extract orally for 30 days. Results showed that they were able to reduce blood cholesterol levels and significantly decrease blood glucose (10).
Bergamot naturally contains polyphenols, the same compound found in green tea, and it can help the body to naturally melt fat and sugar. The sweet citrus scent of bergamot oil helps to uplift, create relaxation and can suppress cravings and curb emotional eating.
With large concentrations of limonene, which is also present in grapefruit oil and lemon oil, bergamot oil can help to dissolve fat. D-limonene acts as a mild appetite suppressant and prevents weight gain.
7. Lavender Essential Oil
Different oils work in various ways to combat weight loss. Some prevent fat accumulation, some help digestion, others help suppress appetite and more. A primary contributor to obesity today is depression and anxiety. Evidence showed that feelings such as anger, guilt, sadness and anxiety can often trigger episodes of overeating (11).
Lavender essential oil can potentially help calm stress and anxiety and suppress the triggers that cause emotional eating. Lavender can also lower cortisol levels, the stress hormone that makes your body hold on to excess fat, making it harder for you to lose weight.
It is believed that taking 80 mg per day of lavender oil can help reduce your anxiety significantly. Another study showed that lab rats exposed to lavender essential oil for just 7 days significantly inhibited anxiety- and depression-like behaviors (12).
If you succumb to binge eating or run to the fridge or vending machine every time you’re stressed out, lavender oil can help.
8. Sandalwood Essential Oil
If you are an emotional eater and eat when you’re stressed out, sandalwood essential oil can help suppress feelings of negativity and bring a sense of calm. It has a wonderful woody scent, and has a natural therapeutic effect on the limbic system of the brain, the area that controls primal emotions like pleasure and anger and drives power, hunger and more.
By balancing your emotions, you’ll stop turning to food to feel good, and better help support your weight loss goals.
9. Eucalyptus Essential Oil
With its refreshing minty scent, eucalyptus oil is great for invigorating the senses, reducing stress, boosting energy and alleviating mental fatigue. But can eucalyptus oil help weight loss?
Eucalyptus oil helps alleviate stress and anxiety which are directly connected to overeating and weight gain. When you feel stressed, the strong aroma of eucalyptus oil can instantly help relax and invigorate so you aren’t tempted to run to food for instant fulfillment.
10. Fennel Essential Oil
The sweet, earthy scent of fennel essential oil is extracted from fennel seeds that are steam distilled. Fennel oil is excellent for improving digestion, suppressing the appetite and regulating sleep cycles.
Fennel contains melatonin, a hormone responsible for regulating circadian rhythms and triggering the brain’s wake and sleep cycles. One study showed how melatonin can positively affect weight loss by enabling the body to create fat that can be burned, rather than fat that is stored (13).
Fennel seeds have been used for hundreds of years to support digestion, and there’s a good reason why. In another study, rats were given fennel oil for eight weeks via inhalation in 10 minute sessions, twice a day. Results showed that they consumed significantly lesser calories and also improved digestion (14).
It’s a known fact that weight gain does not happen just because of bad food habits or lack of exercise. By improving your sleep you improve brain function, energy levels and moods, which all go hand in hand to support your weight loss goals.
11. Frankincense Essential Oil
Frankincense oil is extracted from the resin of a tree native to Somalia, in Africa, and is wonderful for calming anxiousness and low moods that can trigger the need to turn to food to feel satiated. Rich in molecular structures called sesquiterpenes that can cross the blood-brain barrier, frankincense oil can help to ease the negative effects of both anxiety and depression.
Frankincense oil can facilitate digestion by speeding up the rate at which bile and gastric juices are secreted which positively affects the metabolic rate and helps weight loss. It can also stimulate peristaltic motion which helps food move properly through the intestines, improving overall digestion.
12. Jasmine Essential Oil
Extracted from the sweet-smelling jasmine flower, evidence suggests that the smell of Jasmine is as calming as valium (15). Jasmine oil has been used for centuries to remedy anxiety, low sex drive, insomnia and depression and research proves that jasmine can help to relieve depression and uplift the mood (16).
This makes it an excellent essential oil to use if you are struggling to lose weight and can’t control cravings and turn to food when you’re feeling low or have trouble falling asleep at night, which can lead to late night binge eating.
13. Rosemary Essential Oil
Extracted from rosemary sprigs through steam distillation, rosemary essential oil is a strong, powerful oil that can do a lot more than just flavor meat and potato dishes.
Rosemary oil has the ability to decrease cortisol levels in saliva (17). This is important as high cortisol levels are linked to life-threatening conditions such as high blood pressure and heart disease.
High cortisol levels lead to high stress levels, which can lead to emotional eating and weight gain. Keeping your cortisol levels low is key to reducing your stress levels which will lead to less emotional eating and keep your weight in control.
Are There Any Side Effects?
Although essential oils are generally seen as safe to use, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
Essential oils shouldn’t be ingested. These oils are super potent, and even a few drops can cause you to experience severe gastrointestinal discomfort. If you do ingest essential oil and have an adverse reaction, seek medical assistance.
Never use undiluted essential oil, as it may cause inflammation and irritation. You should always do a patch test to determine how your skin will react to the diluted essential oil.
If you are pregnant or nursing, be sure to consult with your doctor before use.
You should also wear sunscreen when using essential oils topically. They can make your skin more sensitive to the sun and more likely to burn.
Essential oils have many benefits that aid in weight loss. Using essential oils with a healthy diet and regular exercise will help you reach your weight loss goals! Always ask your doctor and use as recommended.