Many of us struggle to maintain a healthy body weight.
Whether it’s because we’re dealing with a sluggish metabolism, are trying to lose the baby weight, or are just plain stressed out and emotionally eating, weight gain happens to most of us at one point or another.
If you’re looking for natural and sustainable ways to boost your weight loss efforts then essential oils might be an excellent tool to have in your arsenal.
Essential Oils As A Tool For Health & Well-being
Essential oils (EOs) are highly concentrated plant compounds extracted from different parts of trees, plants, roots, flowers, seeds, nuts, and even fruit.
The therapeutic application of EOs is referred to as aromatherapy.
In the last few decades, they’ve risen in popularity due to their many health benefits and medicinal properties.
Research shows EOs can be effective at:
- Boosting immunity
- Decreasing stress and anxiety
- Improving sleep
- Relieving pain and discomfort
- Soothing eczema and other skin conditions
- Treating colds, coughs, sinus infections, and sore throats
- Addressing allergy symptoms
- Soothing headaches and migraines
In terms of weight management, there are specific oils that are particularly helpful in supporting a healthy lifestyle and weight loss practices such as a clean diet and supplementation, adequate hydration, regular exercise, and quality sleep.
When looking at EOs for weight management you’ll want to choose ones that help regulate blood sugar (like cinnamon), increase energy levels (such as citrus oils), control cravings (like grapefruit), and are highly anti-inflammatory (like ginger).
The 6 Best Essential Oils for Weight Management
Peppermint oil (Mentha piperita)
Peppermint essential oil is a potent multi-benefit oil to have in your holistic healthcare cabinet for many reasons:
#1: It’s great for improving digestive health and dealing with gut issues such as heartburn, bloating, and nausea.
Peppermint oil may also help relieve IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) symptoms.
In fact, a few years ago Canada approved the first peppermint oil natural health product for IBS patients. (1)
#2: Peppermint oil can also help keep food cravings in check while helping to reduce hunger pangs.
Research by neurologist Dr. Alan Hirsch demonstrated just how closely tied together sense of smell and appetite are:
“Our sense of smell and our appetite are closely related.
More than 90 percent of taste is smell.”
– Dr. Alan Hirsch, author of Dr. Hirsch’s Guide to Scentsational Weight Loss
Hirsch conducted a six-month study on 3,193 overweight subjects. (2)
Each one was given an inhaler with different scents, including peppermint, and was instructed to take 3 big inhales into each nostril whenever they felt hunger or craving coming on.
During the study, participants didn’t follow a particular diet and they ate 2-4 meals each day.
The results speak for themselves:
They lost an average of 5 pounds monthly with some losing even up to 18 pounds a month.
“The more people used the device, the more weight they lost.
Some people lost so much weight that we had to drop them from the program. They actually became underweight,” said Dr. Hirsch. (2)
#3: Another way peppermint can support your weight loss goals is by enhancing your workout performance.
According to a 2013 study published in the Journal of the International Society for Sports Nutrition, ingesting peppermint oil diluted in 500 ml of water daily for ten days can be an effective way to power through intense workouts while optimizing breathing patterns and brain oxygen concentration. (3)
#4: As an added bonus, the topical application of peppermint oil diluted with a carrier oil can help to soothe sore muscles and help speed up post-workout recovery so you’re ready to go at it again in no time.
This is because peppermint oil is a powerful analgesic (pain reliever), antispasmodic (preventing muscle spasms), and anti-inflammatory.
Its main active ingredient, menthol, also provides a cooling sensation to soothe muscles and tissues.
Citrus oils: Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi), Lemon (Citrus limon), & Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)
Grapefruit essential oil:
- Grapefruit oil is cleansing, detoxifying, diuretic, fat burning, and can help boost your metabolism while reducing cravings because it’s also an appetite suppressant.
- A study published in Neuroscience Letters found that inhalation of grapefruit oil can affects the autonomic nervous system, which oversees the “rest and digest” response by enhancing the body’s ability to break down fat, reduce appetite, and body weight. (4)
- A randomized controlled trial published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that eating just one half a grapefruit a day can help to improve insulin resistance, reset the metabolism, and increase weight loss. (5)
- As an added bonus, grapefruit oil can help reduce or lessen the appearance of cellulite when applied topically and diluted with a carrier oil like coconut oil.
Lemon essential oil:
- Lemon oil is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that is rich in Vitamin C.
- It’s a digestive aid that soothes indigestion and can also serve as a laxative and diuretic.
- It’s rich in d-limonene (like all citrus fruits), which has been shown to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, improve acid reflux, and lower obesity. (6) (7)
- Lemon oil is also a detoxifier that helps the body get rid of waste and toxins by stimulating the lymphatic system.
Bergamot essential oil:
- Bergamot oil is the one responsible for Earl Grey tea’s distinctive smell.
- This citrus native to Mediterranean countries is a powerful digestive stimulant, diuretic, and laxative.
- It also promotes feelings of calm groundedness and joy while reducing stress and anxiety, which can really help reduce mindless or emotional eating.
- It’s been shown in studies to help reduce body fat and cholesterol markers. (8)
- It’s also been shown to help activate autophagy – the body’s ability to cleanse itself of dying or damaged cells. It’s believed that autophagy helps to slow down the aging process and may even increase longevity. (9)
Cinnamon oil (Cinnamomum verum)
- Cinnamon oil is high in inflammation-reducing antioxidants and is known to help balance blood sugar levels while also aiding in weight loss.
- Cinnamon essential oil also supports healthy blood circulation and heart function.
- Thanks to its rich content of linalool, one of its active compounds, cinnamon oil can help you gain less weight while reducing body fat markers. (10)
- According to a 2017 University of Michigan study cinnamon oil helps activate thermogenesis – your body’s ability to burn calories for warmth. This can lead to weight loss. (11)
- A review in the Journal of Diabetes Science & Technology found cinnamon to show potential in the alleviation and prevention of symptoms of type 2 diabetes and heart disease though more research is needed. (12)
Ginger oil (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger essential oil is a powerful aid to boost the immune system and reduce inflammation thanks to its high content of gingerols, active compounds with high anti-inflammatory properties.
Ginger oil is also a good digestive aid that helps create inner warmth.
- When used safely and properly EOs usually offer little to no side effects.
- When used topically as a natural aid for weight control EOs must always be diluted in a carrier oil in order to prevent skin irritation and reactions. This is especially true for sensitive skin types.
- It’s advisable to perform a patch test on a non-affected area of the skin and wait at least 24 hours to confirm that there is no allergic reaction.
- If you experience any adverse reaction to any oil discontinue use immediately and consult your healthcare provider.
- Be aware of the contraindications for each oil you use. For example, you should avoid applying ginger and all citrus oils directly onto the skin if you’re going to be exposed to the sun as these oils are considered phototoxic.
- You will also want to always choose high-quality, certified organic, and therapeutic grade products to avoid diluted batches and the addition of potentially harmful chemicals. This is especially true if you’re planning on ingesting them.
- Do not ingest EOs without the supervision of an experienced aromatherapist or without prior consultation with your doctor, especially if you’ve got a chronic health issue like digestive problems or diabetes.
How To Use EOs for Weight Management
You can apply the oils directly onto your skin and always dilute with a carrier oil like coconut oil.
A good rule of thumb is to stick to 1-2 drops of EO per 1 teaspoon of carrier oil.
You can add 10-20 drops of EO to an inhaler for a more direct application.
You can also use a diffuser and add 10-12 drops of EO per 200 ml of water for a gentler approach if you’re sensitive.
It’s a good idea to use the Craving Control Blend below as a guide to set up your diffuser and have it running before, during, and after mealtimes.
Orally consuming EOs seems to be a source of controversy amongst the EO community.
Some claim that it simply isn’t safe to ever ingest EOs.
Others say that it’s okay to take EOs orally as long as they are used safely and with direct supervision of a knowledgeable health professional.
And others believe that if you do your due diligence, research every high-quality EO you’re looking to ingest, and are aware of the contraindications, then you can proceed with caution and use the oils for internal purposes.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) created a comprehensive list of EOs that are considered ‘generally recognized as safe’ (GRAS) for ingestion provided the oils are undiluted, solvent-free, and consumed in an appropriate quantity and as described. (13)
This list is not exhaustive.
The FDA doesn’t regulate EOs so it’s on you to do your own research and make up your own decisions when looking to purchase any oil.
4 Yogic Weight Management Practices For Optimal Results
Eat for energy (prana) instead of for comfort
A healthy diet full of organic, whole foods will help you set yourself up for success.
Learn how to eat like a yogi.
In order to avoid overeating, you’ll want to learn mindful eating habits and techniques that can help you when cravings and impulses start.
In order to burn fat try to avoid eating more than 20% carbs, sugary fruit, and grains.
Abstaining or greatly reducing your consumption of gluten, dairy, sugar, processed foods, fried foods, and alcoholic beverages will also greatly support your weight loss goals.
Hydration & Cleanliness (Saucha)
Did you know that even a mild state of chronic dehydration can impair your ability to burn fat and balance your hormones?
Being dehydrated can also increase your cravings and hunger pangs.
It also increases inflammation throughout your body.
Be sure to hydrate properly every single day.
You can make it a ritual and an off-the-mat yoga practice.
Aim for 1.5 – 2 L of water daily and even more if you consume caffeine daily or do intense workouts.
Believe it or not, you can literally burn fat by breathing in specific ways.
The ancient art of yoga breathing (pranayama) helps us learn to control our body and mind via the breath and it can also teach us to control our cravings and appetite.
Certain pranayama exercises can help us eat less if we practice them daily and diligently.
Sleep Meditation (Yoga Nidra)
Just one night of poor sleep is enough to through your hormones out of whack.
This means you’ll likely experience more sugar cravings, and your blood sugar and insulin levels can become imbalanced too.
This slows down your metabolism and keeps you further from your weight loss goals.
Getting adequate, good-quality sleep is essential for a healthy weight and mind.
The practice of Yoga Nidra (yogic sleep meditation) can help you achieve this and help you unwind, relax, and experience deep regenerative rest.
A Science-Backed DIY Craving Control Essential Oil Blend
A mentioned in the study referenced at the beginning of this article, our sense of smell is strongly associated with hunger cues and taste.
Using this EO blend in an inhaler so it’s easily portable everywhere you go is a really good idea.
Here’s the science behind this craving hack:
When you inhale scents and food smells those aromatic compounds enter your nostrils and travel to your olfactory bulb at the top of your nose.
Since your olfactory bulb is connected to your brain it impacts its satiety/fullness center and sends off the signal that you’ve had enough food.
This creates a hormonal signal that creates a sense of fullness before your belly has had time to register that it’s time to stop eating.
According to Dr. Hirsch, you can literally fool your brain into thinking you’ve eaten more than you have so you feel satiated while consuming less. (2)
Add the following to an inhaler:
10 drops of grapefruit oil
10 drops of peppermint oil
Now, go ahead and create your inhaler blend and see how you go.