From shedding a few pounds to seriously going a few sizes down, losing weight tops most New Year resolution lists.
So...at the beginning of the year most people decide to join a gym, kick a bad habit and eat healthier. And yes, there are many who do succeed, but there are also many who struggle to lose the weight, or do lose the weight but struggle even harder to keep it off.
Why? Because losing weight is not just about healthy eating, a solid exercise regimen or taking nutritional supplements. To achieve true weight loss success (and keep the weight off) you have to fight a constant never-ending daily battle between your mind and your body, with many components that come into play, like your genes, hormones, brain psychology, metabolism, emotions, and also the environment around you.
And, if you've tried to shed more than a few pounds you know it's hard work and there's no shortcut to losing weight. So if you're looking for that magic pill, or magic 'oil' that will melt away the fat, it's not that simple and you'll end up disappointed. However, if you're ready to consider some excellent essential oils that have powerful medicinal properties to support you in your weight loss goal plan, now we're talking!
Ready to achieve long-lasting weight loss success? Read on to see how essential oils can be a vital part of your weight loss journey.
Why Essential Oils Can Help You Lose Weight
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.
For example, some oils have powerful anti-inflammation properties, while others are anti-microbial, antiseptic or insecticidal. In the same way there are some unique essential oils that have fat-burning compounds or others that can help alleviate cravings and uplift mood.
How Essential Oils Work For Weight Loss
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, research suggests that 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
The Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Institute of Chicago discovered that inhaling a culinary smell like rosemary, peppermint, grapefruit, orange etc. "regularly throughout the day, especially when hungry can suppress the desire to taste and therefore eat," and that by inhaling an aroma deeply 3-6 times in each nostril, "the desire to eat is inhibited."
The same research suggested to keep switching the essential oils inhaled daily so you do not get used to them, and this will bring greater effectiveness and better results. In this post we'll discuss a variety of essential oils you can incorporate in your weight loss plan.
Here are top 14 essential oils for weight loss (and how to use them):
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.
Research studies suggest that when mice, "were fed fatty food for three months, those given grapefruit juice to drink gained up to 18 per cent less weight than those given water."
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. Bottom line: Grapefruit oil activates AMPK and increased AMPK = more fat burned.
In another study lab rats exposed to grapefruit essential oil for 15 minutes, three times weekly, " reduced food intake and body weight," and limonene, another key component of grapefruit oil, induced lipolysis, a process where fat and protein are deconstructed by the body and dissolved, directly supporting metabolism, reducing appetite and body fat.
How to use grapefruit essential oil for weight loss:
1. Drink it: Add 1-2 drops of therapeutic-grade grapefruit essential oil in water (one glassful) and drink it as soon as you wake up in the morning. This routine will help to improve metabolism, increase fat loss, detoxify the body by flushing out toxins, and help to maintain your weight.
Drinking grapefruit oil after a meal can help you digest food better and alleviate bloating.
2. Inhale directly: Have a sudden craving? The fresh scent of grapefruit oil can do wonders. Inhale directly from the bottle or add a few drops to a cotton ball and breathe deeply. Smelling grapefruit oil relaxes the parasympathetic gastric nerve, the body’s main mechanism that activates ghrelin-induced feeding (our body’s natural process of having food cravings).
3. Apply topically: Rubbing grapefruit oil on your wrists, chest, temples, and just under your nose can instantly help to control cravings and curb your appetite.
4. Diffuse: Add a few drops of grapefruit oil to your diffuser, especially when a craving strikes - great to restrain late-night snacking.
5. Reduce cellulite: Grapefruit oil is an effective diuretic (prevents water retention), and stimulates the lymphatic system. It also contains bromelain, a powerful anti-inflammatory enzyme that helps to break down cellulite. This is why grapefruit oil is used in many cellulite creams. Try the chemical-free blend below to reduce cellulite naturally.
Grapefruit essential oil all-natural cellulite cream:
15 drops grapefruit oil
1/2 cup coconut oil
Blend the grapefruit oil with coconut oil and store in a glass jar. Rub and massage for 5 minutes daily onto the areas of the skin that have cellulite and need firming.
2. Cinnamon Essential Oil
If you know someone with diabetes who uses cinnamon or cinnamon essential oil, there's a good reason behind it.
A 2013 study suggested that cinnamon "has anti-microbial, anti-parasitic, anti-oxidant and free radical scavenging properties." And that it seemed "to lower blood glucose, serum cholesterol."
Research suggests that cinnamon oil has shown excellent potential in regulating blood glucose levels and the glucose tolerance factor (GTF) in the body. That's important because unbalanced blood sugar levels can lead to over-eating, 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 blood stream, 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 over-eating.
How to use cinnamon essential oil for weight loss:1. Drink it: The FDA classifies cinnamon oil as safe to take internally but it is highly recommended to buy therapeutic-grade cinnamon essential oil that is 100% pure and free from toxins and additives and is unfiltered and undiluted.
To support fat loss, add 1-2 drops of cinnamon oil in a tea cup of warm water with a touch of honey (raw honey is best). Doing this everyday will help reduce cravings. Best had before meals or when you get a late night food craving.
You can also add cinnamon oil to your baking, oats or smoothies.
2. Inhale directly: When a sudden craving hits, or to prevent overeating before a meal take a few deep breaths of cinnamon oil straight out of the bottle. Doing this can also potentially make you feel more full and improve your mood. Great for emotional eaters.
3. Apply topically: Being a potent oil, combine 1-2 drops of cinnamon oil with a carrier oil such as jojoba oil, coconut oil or tamanu oil and rub it on your wrists and chest.
4. Diffuse: Add a few drops of cinnamon oil to your diffuser. This not only makes the house smell great but will help boost your mood and rein in those midnight snack attacks.
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. Research shows that gingerols 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.
A 2013 study suggested that ginger oil "possesses antioxidant activity as well as significant anti-inflammatory" properties and in just a month increased enzyme levels in the blood of lab mice and significantly decreased chronic inflammation.
Another 2014 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."
Struggling with belly fat? Ginger oil can help. A 2004 article published in the Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin showed that 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 - reasons that cause fat, including belly fat to pile on.
How to use ginger essential oil for weight loss:
1. Drink it: According to the FDA ginger oil is safe to take internally but it is best to use therapeutic-grade ginger oil that is safe for internal use. You can add 1-2 drops of ginger oil to a glass of warm water with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and some raw honey.
2. Inhale directly: Inhaling the spicy aroma of ginger oil straight from the bottle is a great pick-me-up and can reduce appetite and cravings.
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.
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.
Research conducted in 2008 entitled, Effects of Peppermint Scent on Appetite Control and Caloric Intake, showed that participants of the clinical study who inhaled peppermint oil every 2 hours felt less hungry and had lesser food cravings than those who did not inhale the potent oil. Participants were also significantly able to reduce calorie intake and the oil had an excellent positive effect on suppressing the appetite.
How to use peppermint essential oil for weight loss:
1. Drink it: Safe to take internally as per the FDA, 1-2 drops of peppermint essential oil can be added to a glass of water and had before meals to serve as an appetite suppressant. We highly recommend you buy therapeutic-grade peppermint essential oil that is 100% pure and free from toxins and additives and is unfiltered and undiluted.
2. Inhale directly: Take a deep whiff of peppermint oil directly from the bottle or from a cotton ball soaked in a few drops of the oil to suppress your appetite and trigger a sense of feeling full. Doing this right before eating is a good way to decrease your appetite and prevent overeating.
3. Diffuse: Add a few drops of peppermint oil to your diffuser. The minty fresh oil will uplift your mood and inhibit cravings. The invigorating scent is also great to get you energized and motivated for a workout.
5. Lemon Essential Oil
Extracted from the lemon rind and containing the medicinal compound limonene, lemon oil is a natural fat dissolver. A 2013 study suggested that when combined with grapefruit oil, lemon oil supported lipolysis (breaking down of body fats) creating a "suppression in body weight gain."
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.
How to use lemon essential oil for weight loss:
1. Drink it: Safe to ingest as per the FDA, mix 1-2 drops of lemon essential oil to a glass of water and have it in the morning to support digestion and detoxify.
2. Inhale directly: Inhale lemon oil directly from the bottle or from a cotton ball soaked in a few drops of the oil to curb food cravings and stop you from overeating.
3. Massage: Blend lemon oil with a carrier oil such as coconut oil or moringa oil (an excellent skin moisturizer) and massage into the areas that have cellulite build-up. This can help remove toxins from fat cells.
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.
A recent 2015 study 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.
In a 2011 study, 237 participants with hyperlipemia (high levels of fat content in the blood) were given bergamot extract orally for 30 days and the study showed that they were able to reduce blood cholesterol levels and significantly decrease blood glucose.
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.
Having large concentrations of limonene (also found in grapefruit oil and lemon oil), bergamot oil can help to dissolve fat. According to University Health News, "D-limonene acts as a mild appetite suppressant and prevents weight gain."
How to use bergamot essential oil for weight loss:
1. Inhale it: Inhale the oil deeply directly from the bottle or from a cotton ball soaked in a few drops of the oil. The citrusy scent of limonene can help suppress your appetite, reduce how much you eat and in turn help you lose weight.
2. Add it to your shower: Add a few drops of bergamot oil in your shower and cover the drain. Inhale deeply to get the full medicinal benefits, get refreshed and prepare your body and mind for weight loss.
7. 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 of the brain 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.
How to use sandalwood essential oil for weight loss:
1. Inhale it: Inhale the oil directly from the bottle or from a cotton ball soaked in a few drops of the oil. The earthy scent of sandalwood can bring instant relaxation and take your mind off food.
2. Apply topically: Having a hard day at work? When you feel the urge to run to the vending machine, rub a couple of drops of sandalwood oil directly on the wrists and ankles to curb cravings and get through a stressful day.
3. Diffuse: Add a few drops of sandalwood oil to your diffuser. You'll find yourself instantly relaxed at the end of a long day.
8. 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. In fact according to the National Centre for Eating Disorders, "feelings such as anger, guilt, sadness and anxiety can often trigger episodes of overeating."
Research suggests that 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.
A 2010 study published in International Clinical Pharmacology showed that participants taking 80 mg per day of lavender oil displayed significantly less anxiety than those receiving a placebo. Another 2013 study suggested that lab rats exposed to lavender essential oil for just 7 days "significantly inhibited anxiety- and depression-like behaviors."
If you succumb to binge eating or run to the fridge or vending machine every time you're stressed out, lavender oil can help.
How to use lavender essential oil for weight loss:
1. Inhale it: Rub 2-3 drops of lavender essential oil in your palms and cup them to your face or take a few deep breaths directly from the bottle. The fresh scent enters the amygdala, the brain's center for emotions, and helps to relax feelings of anxiety and stress.
2. Diffuse: To increase the lingering effects of calm and relaxation that lavender oil brings, add a few drops to your diffuser and let the pleasant aroma waft through the air and calm your senses, helping to reduce anxiousness and food temptations.
9. 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. A 2011 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.
Fennel seeds have been used for hundreds of years to support digestion, and there's good reason why. In a study rats were administered fennel oil for eight weeks via inhalation in 10 minute sessions, twice a day. The study found that they consumed significantly lesser calories and also improved digestion.
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.
How to use fennel essential oil for weight loss:
1. Drink it: Add 1-2 drops of fennel oil in a glass of water and drink it before meals to prevent overeating. This will also help to aid digestion.
2. Apply topically: Having sweet cravings? Dab a drop of fennel oil on each wrist.
10. 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.
How to use eucalyptus essential oil for weight loss:
1. Inhale it: Take a few deep breaths of eucalyptus oil directly from the bottle. This will bring on a feeling of calm and relaxation and keep you from emotional eating.
2. Add to your shower: At the start of the day add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to your shower and cover the drain. Inhale deeply to feel instantly refreshed. This is great to get you mentally ready to follow your weight loss plan for the day.
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.
How to use frankincense essential oil for weight loss:
1. Inhale it: When you feel a hunger pang coming on, inhale a few deep breaths of frankincense oil directly from the bottle. This will induce a feeling of calm and relaxation and keep you from emotional eating.
2. Use in a diffuser: Add a few drops of frankincense oil to your diffuser and let the earthy, sweet aroma fill the air. This can help to calm the mind and body after a long, tiring day, leading to less anxiety and stress which can mean fewer cravings.
12. Jasmine Essential Oil
Extracted from the sweet-smelling jasmine flower, a study suggests that the smell of Jasmine is 'as calming as valium.' 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. 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).
How to use jasmine essential oil for weight loss:
1. Inhale it: Before eating, inhale jasmine essential oil, which will calm the senses and help prevent overeating. You can also put a few drops of jasmine oil on a handkerchief and keep it with you throughout the day. Anytime you feel anxious or stressed you can put it to your face and take a few deep breaths.
2. Use in a diffuser: Add 2-3 drops of jasmine oil and 4-5 drops of grapefruit oil to your diffuser. The light citrusy scent will help uplift your mood and inhaling grapefruit oil has the added benefit of relaxing the parasympathetic gastric nerve that induces food cravings, so this blend is great to try for weight loss.
13. Orange Essential Oil
Orange oil can help to curb the appetite and prevent overeating. It contains Vitamin C and also has antioxidant benefits. The sharp citrusy scent is also a powerful mood enhancer and can help those suffering from depression. A research study from Japan's Mei University showed that orange oil helped participants lessen their anti-depressant medication intake.
There are countless studies which prove that depression leads to weight gain and this one shows its direct correlation with actually leading to a higher risk for obesity. By using essential oils like orange oil and other oils mentioned above, you can uplift your mood, feel better, and be less tempted to use food to feel good.
How to use orange essential oil for weight loss:
1. Inhale it: Take a few deep breaths of orange essential oil directly from the bottle or from a cotton ball dabbed in a few drops of the oil before eating. This will help perk you up, energize and stimulate the senses, and prevent mindless overeating.
2. Drink it: Approved by the FDA to consume, add 1-2 drops of orange oil to a glass of water and drink it before you sit down for a meal. This will help curb your appetite and prevent overeating.
14. 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.
According to a 2007 study conducted in Japan, rosemary oil has the ability to decrease cortisol (the stress hormone) levels in saliva. 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.
How to use rosemary essential oil for weight loss:
1. Inhale it: Inhaling rosemary oil for 5 minutes taking long, deep breaths has claimed to reduce cortisol levels. The logic is that when you feel less stressed, you eat less (especially binge eat less). Take a few deep breaths of rosemary essential oil directly from the bottle or from a cotton ball soaked in a few drops of the oil when you feel stressed. This will not only help to calm your nerves but will help your waistline too.
Side Effects and Warnings
Essential oils are natural but powerful. Some people may develop an allergic reaction to any oil so it's always best to try a little by doing a small skin patch test on your arm or leg (never your face or neck) to make sure you don't have an adverse reaction.
If you're pregnant or nursing, or on any kind of medication please check with your doctor before using essential oils (especially if using them internally)
What to Look for When Buying Essential Oils?
When buying essential oils make sure the bottle says 100% pure essential oil, and has the proper name of the species mentioned on the label of the bottle. Example for grapefruit oil: (Citrus Paradasi). If you see the word 'fragrance' it almost always means there are other additives.
Ideally it's always best to buy essential oils from an organic source that are labeled as "Therapeutic grade," meaning they are free of toxins and chemicals and are unfiltered and undiluted.
Also beware of genetically modified ingredients and choose Non GMO essential oils.
We all know that eating a balanced diet, watching portion size and exercise are key to losing weight. But there is no one weight loss or diet plan right for all of us. Similarly, there is no fixed recipe when it comes to essential oils and what might work for you might not work for someone else. Since we are all biochemically exclusive, it's best to experiment with a variety of essential oils, pay attention to your body, and find the "personal blends" that work most optimally for you.
Back to you! What’s your experience with using essential oils for weight loss? Have they worked for you? We'd love to hear what you have to say!