I have this one friend, Tina, whose house always smells like fresh baked goods. The last time I went to see her, I was met with the scent of lemon as soon I walked in the door.
I asked her if she was baking something with lemon in it.
“No,” she said, “I’m diffusing lemon oil. To help with my weight loss!”
If you’re thinking “What?! Does that really work?”, you’re not alone. These days, many people are turning to alternative options like essential oils to aid in getting rid of those stubborn pounds.
So, does it work? That’s what I’ll walk you through in today’s article. The short answer is that, as you probably assumed, essential oils aren’t magic, and they can’t do all of the work when it comes to weight loss.
But they can help! Now, let’s take a closer look at the best kinds of essential oils for weight loss, why they work, and how to use them.
How do essential oils fit into my weight loss plan?
Weight loss is the number one issue my clients struggle with. So many of the women who come through my door have tried – and failed to lose weight. They tell me they’ve tried everything – fad diets, counting calories, working out endlessly. They’ve joined program after program with little to no success. Even when they did lose weight, they couldn’t keep it off.
These women are desperate, and they’re often willing to try anything. Essential oils are a hot topic these days, and clients ask me if it’s true that they can actually help in the weight loss process.
The answer is absolutely – but not in isolation! I don’t want women thinking all they have to do is ingest a little oil and the pounds will melt away.
We have to look at weight loss in a more comprehensive way. We have to examine the whole picture – what’s happening with your hormones, your adrenal glands, and your gut. How are you dealing with emotional upsets? What is stress doing to your ability to lose weight? It’s all connected!
My weight loss program is designed to address all of these issues and more. I’m so excited about it, because I’m seeing women have real results! And the reason this program is working when so many others have not is that we’re looking at all of the factors. These women are learning about all the tools and strategies available to help them transform not only their weight, but their entire lives!
Essential oils can impact many of these factors, which is why using them can ultimately aid you in your weight loss goals. Let’s take a look at some of the ways that essential oils can have an effect on your weight loss – and which oils might make the most difference.
Key factors that impact your ability to lose weight
Before we talk about specific oils, let’s take a brief look at some of the main reasons women have such a hard time losing weight. This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but if you aren’t addressing these issues, you may find it impossible to drop pounds no matter what you try.
These are also some of the factors that essential oils can help to address.
Your hormonal balance (or lack thereof) can have a large influence on weight loss. Hormones carry messages to your brain about what your body needs. That means your hormones are responsible for letting your brain know how fast your metabolism should work, and how much fat your body needs to store for survival. If your hormones aren’t properly balanced, these messages get garbled, and your body keeps fat even when there’s no threat to your survival.
As we get older, levels of some hormones naturally decline, and often the ratios between certain hormones get skewed. That’s where the problem lies. When ratios of estrogen to progesterone are off, your body is very likely to hold on to excess fat.
If you’ve been reading my work for any length of time, you’ve heard me talk about the adrenal glands and the impact of stress on your health – including weight loss. Your adrenal glands are responsible for producing hormones that help you deal with stress – including cortisol. The problem is, your body perceives all stress the same way – so even good stress like an exciting roller coaster ride can spike the levels of cortisol produced.
When stress is constant (and in this modern life, it is for so many women) your adrenal glands may malfunction, unable to keep up with the constant demand for cortisol. When this happens, your body senses impending disaster – and prepares itself for famine, holding on tight to every calorie you consume.
The connection between metabolism and weight loss is far more complex than the old “calories in, calories out” mantra. While it’s true that your body will store excess calories as fat, there is no magic formula for speeding up your metabolism. A myriad of factors, including your basal metabolic rate, how physically active you are, and the quality of the food you consume, will impact how quickly your body burns calories.
There is a complex relationship that exists between gut health and weight loss. I’ve talked often about the various things that can go wrong in the digestive process, including leaky gut syndrome, overgrowth of “bad” bacteria, systemic yeast, food sensitivities, low gastric acid, and parasites. All of these factors can lead to weight gain, and make it very difficult to lose those extra pounds.
Your pancreas produces a hormone, insulin, which helps control glucose (blood sugar) levels. Glucose is the top source of energy in your body, the fuel your body needs to function properly. When blood sugar levels aren’t stable, a host of uncomfortable symptoms result, including weight gain.
When insulin is doing its job properly, it lets cells know they should absorb glucose. But if too much glucose is present, these cells are desensitized, so your body continues to release insulin, which calls for more glucose, and the cycle continues. If this goes on too long, the cells just won’t respond to the signals and you may end up with insulin resistance.
How Can Essential Oils Aid in Weight Loss?
Weight loss, when done right, is a journey of discovery. Along the way, you’ll learn about important things about your own biochemistry, your emotions, and what tools and tips work for you. Every woman is unique, but when you are looking at the full view, you can find a way to lose that weight for good.
Essential oils are one tool that can really help you as you navigate your path to permanent weight loss. Using essential oils can bring you the right balance in your life in so many of the areas that impact weight. Here are seven of my favorite essential oils that assist with weight loss.
1. Cinnamon oil
Who doesn’t like a little cinnamon every now and then? It’s a perfect spice to add flavor to a variety of dishes, and the essential oil can help balance blood sugar levels, which will reduce those cravings for a sweet treat and could help heal insulin resistance. Stable blood sugar will also help you maintain appropriate energy levels, giving you the stamina to keep moving and burning calories. Cinnamon oil also helps reduce inflammation and the risk of heart disease!
2. Ginger oil
One of the best benefits of ginger oil is the support it lends to your digestive system and nutrient absorption. We talked earlier about how vital a healthy digestive system is to weight loss. When you are able to absorb all the nutrients your body needs, the boost to cellular energy promotes weight loss. Ginger oil also contains a compound, gingerol, that acts as an antioxidant and reduces inflammation.
A review of 27 studies found some very promising benefits of ginger for weight loss, including boosting metabolism, encouraging fat burning, reducing fat absorption, and minimizing cravings.
3. Grapefruit oil
Have you heard of the fad diet that has you eating grapefruit at every meal? The idea is that because grapefruit contains compounds that support metabolism and cleanse your lymphatic glands, allowing them to carry nutrients through your bloodstream to the tissues that need them.
While simply using grapefruit oil without changing any other habits won’t do the trick, there is a real benefit to making it a part of your routine since it helps activate enzymes that help your body break down fat. Research has also shown that grapefruit oil has an impact on autonomic nerves, which not only reduce appetite, but regulate vital functions like heart rate and digestion.
I do need to offer a word of caution here — grapefruit can interact adversely with a variety of medications, so if you have a regular prescription, talk with your doctor or pharmacist before adding grapefruit to your diet.
4. Holy basil oil
Holy basil oil has a positive effect on your overall health, supporting balance of major hormones including thyroid hormones and cortisol, as well as regulating blood glucose levels. Holy basil can also reduce anxiety (which helps keep stress hormones balanced), supports your nervous system, and aids in the reduction of inflammation.
5. Lemon oil
Lemon essential oil can both stimulate and soothe – which makes it a versatile oil that can be useful whether you need a “pick-me-up” or something to calm your nerves. Lemon oil also promotes a positive mood, which may help you stay motivated and focused on your target weight instead of lamenting what you’re missing out on.
Aromatherapy research has shown that simply breathing in the scent of this oil can boost neurological activity that helps your body break down fat– hence Tina’s strategy! Lemon oil also helps with detoxification and digestion.
6. Lavender oil
Lavender oil can help address so many of the factors that impact weight loss – and it smells fantastic! Lavender oil promotes quality sleep, relieves anxiety and stress by promoting feelings of peacefulness, and helps keep your blood sugar balanced. Addressing stress, sleep, and adrenal balance is one of the most important things you can do for your health, and lavender oil helps you with all of those things!
7. Peppermint oil
If you love the smell or taste of peppermint you’ll be happy to hear that this refreshing, energizing oil has a range of benefits that can help you with your weight loss goals. If you’re suffering from sore muscles, peppermint oil can help get you back on track with your workouts by soothing aches and pains. Peppermint oil can also keep you alert and focused, reduces hunger cravings, and can get you to a full feeling faster so you don’t overeat.
One clinical trial found that just breathing in the scent of peppermint every couple of hours led to significantly reduced appetite and cravings.
How do I use essential oils for weight loss?
There are a number of different ways you can use essential oils for weight loss & other benefits. Here are a few of the most popular ways. Choose the option that you like best based on the particular oil or your routine!
- In the air: Consider purchasing a diffuser so that you can release the scents (and benefits) of essential oils into the air in your home. Just inhaling essential oils can be helpful, and it’s also a natural way to make your home smell great!
- On your skin: Essential oils can be added to your bath, foot soak, or even right onto your skin (just make sure you dilute them with another type of oil, like coconut oil, if applying directly to your skin).
- In your food or drink (sparingly): While some essential oils can be added to your tea, water, or smoothie, make sure you’re using an oil that is labeled “food safe” – and use it sparingly! Essential oils are incredibly concentrated, and just a drop or two will go a long way. Never ingest an essential oil if you’re not clear on whether it’s food safe.
Essential oils aren’t magic, but using them is easy, safe, and enjoyable! Why not make them part of your regular self-care routine? When you do, they’ll help address all the areas of your overall health that could be impeding your weight loss goals and make it easier to shed those stubborn pounds. That’s a win-win situation!
Reviewed by Dr. Mark Menolascino, MD