Proper nutrition and physical activity are crucial aspects of weight loss and healthy lifestyle. However, the psychological and physiological factors of weight loss are often neglected. Probably, everyone who has tried to lose weight knows how difficult the battle of the mind and body is- the battle between the brain chemistry, hormones, emotions, and environment.
Unfortunately, diet and exercise changes aren’t always enough to bring permanent change.
The power of essential oils
Used for more than 6000 years, essential oils have been praised for their one –of- a- kind healing properties. Essential oils are derived from the roots, flowers, seeds, fruits, and leaves of plants and they are a hydrophobic liquid consisted of volatile aromatic compounds.
In the past, ancient Egyptian, Chinese, Greek, Roman, and Indian cultures used essential oils for medicinal, cosmetic, and spiritual purposes, and nowadays, scientific research has yielded promising results regarding the curative, physiological, and mood-altering effects of essential oils.
Aromatherapy is known to stimulate certain brain parts, which in return has a positive effect on the physical, emotional, and mental state. The human nose is able to detect trillion different smells and the olfactory glands can have near-immediate interaction with the brain’s amygdale and hippocampus- the center of human memory and emotions.
Inhaling molecules through the nose communicates with the brain receptors which control the blood pressure, stress levels, learning, pleasure, and motivation. Hence, essential oil aromatherapy is excellent for treatment of anxiety and hormonal imbalance. Although there is no replacement for diet and exercise, a lot of the obstacles related to weight loss have a psycho- physiological nature.
If you struggle with emotional eating, dieting fatigue, lack of motivation, poor metabolism, sugar cravings, depressed moods, etc. incorporating essential oils in your fitness program could be the missing piece of the puzzle which can help you persevere in your weight loss process.
The best essential oils for weight loss
Grapefruit essential oil
This oil has a sweet, crisp, and uplifting aroma and it is commonly used as an antiseptic and a disinfectant. It is excellent in curbing cravings, boosting the metabolism, increasing the energy and endurance, and reducing abdominal fat.
Grapefruit is rich in nootkatone, a natural chemical compound which stimulates a specific enzyme which controls the body’s energy levels and metabolic rate. When this chemical compound is introduced into the system the enzyme speeds up the chemical reactions in the tissues of the brain, the skeletal muscle, and the liver.
According to research, the interactions between nootkatone and the AMPK enzyme have resulted in higher level of endurance, decreased weight gain, lower body fat, and better physical performance.
Another study conducted with rats exposed to grapefruit oil 3 times per week for 15 minute-intervals, showed that they had reduced appetite and weight loss. It is considered that limonene, the primary component of grapefruit, induces lipolysis, the process through which the body fat and protein is broken down.
Lemon essential oil
Lemon oil is pressed from the lemon’s peel and it has the power to reduce weight gain, to increase the energy levels, to improve the mood, and to relieve pain.
Being a mood enhancer, lemon oil is a very powerful treatment for relieving negative feelings. What’s more, it increases the norepinephrine levels, a stress hormone and neurotransmitter responsible for the fight-or-flight mechanism.
Additionally, norepinephrine increase the amount of oxygen in the brain and it improves the cognitive function and increases the heart rate and blood flow, resulting in improved and faster work of the muscles.
If you experience ache and strained muscles which prevent you from keeping up with your workout, lemon essential oil can help you relieve the pain significantly.
Peppermint essential oil
Peppermint oil is rich in menthol which has a calming and cooling effect. It has the power to increase the energy and mental alertness, to improve the mood and digestion, and to lower the appetite.
For centuries, peppermint oil has been used in medicinal purposes to treat indigestion. This oil is an excellent muscle relaxer, and when used in combination with caraway oil, it eases the abdominal muscles, decreases bloating, and improves bile flow, thus, allowing the food to pass through the body faster.
According to a 2008 study named Effects of Peppermint Scent on Appetite Control and Caloric Intake, participants who inhaled peppermint oil every 2 hours, experienced less hunger and consumed fewer calories.
Cinnamon essential oil
This oil has a warm and sweet fragrance and it is derived from the inner bark or leaves of the Cinnamomum tree. It is known to improve insulin sensitivity, to regulate blood sugar levels, and to lower inflammation.
Insulin is the hormone which is responsible for the metabolism of carbohydrates and fat by easing the absorption of blood glucose and by converting it to energy or by storing it as fat. However, when the cells in the body stop responding to insulin, a condition known as insulin resistance develops, and the body begins to store fat instead of burning it. This results in weight gain and in difficulty losing weight.
High blood sugar levels and increased blood insulin levels are precursors for type 2 diabetes. Nonetheless, cinnamon extract has been shown to increase the insulin sensitivity in the brain and to increase the blood glucose uptake.
Nearly 25% of Americans suffer from metabolic syndrome, a confluence of disorders such as impaired glucose tolerance, abdominal obesity, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and high blood sugar.
Cinnamon extract has the ability to inhibit the production of molecules identified in the bodies of obese people, which could be an important aspect in the prevention of weight gain in the first place.
Bergamot essential oil
This oil has sweet, tangy, and spicy notes and it is excellent in improving the mood and in increasing the energy. Anxiety and depression can sometimes cause emotional eating which brings temporary relief and comfort, however, in the long-term; it piles on more negative emotions like self-criticism and guilt.
Bergamot oil is great for breaking up this vicious cycle. Hence, according to a recent study, participants who were exposed to 15 minutes of bergamot oil aromatherapy, reported positive emotions and increased energy. The researchers concluded that the oil had an immediate physiological benefit.
Moreover, those who inhaled bergamot oil had lower cortisol levels than those who didn’t.
Fennel essential oil
This oil has an earthy and sweet fragrance and it is steam-distilled from fennel seeds. It is significant in the improvement of digestion and in the suppression of appetite, as well as in the reduction of weight gain and in the improvement of the overall sleep quality.
Fennel is a melatonin source, a hormone which regulates circadian rhythms naturally by signaling to the brain daily wake-sleep cycles. Not only does melatonin contribute to a more tranquil sleep, but it also reduces weight by creating more ‘beige fat’ rather than ‘white fat’.
In the middle ages, fennel seeds were consumed for suppression of the appetite during fasting days. According to a study, during eight weeks, rats inhaled fennel oil twice per day for 10 minutes which resulted in fewer calories consumed and faster digestion.
Other useful essential oils
Although aromatherapy has been practiced for thousands of years around the world, scientific research regarding the truthfulness of essential oils is still in the initial phase. Several clinical trials are still ongoing, but over the course of the next couple of years, we should be able to see more information regarding essential oils.
There are other essential oils, which technically lack scientific data; however, they are worth the try. These following oils are one of the most recommended ones for weight loss:
- Ginger root
- Celery seed
- Juniper berry
- Rose geranium
How to use essential oils for weight loss
Breathing in essential oils is a low-risk way to benefit from aromatherapy. Essential oils which are used topically must be diluted with carrier oil before they are applied onto the skin. If you want to avoid allergic reactions, test a small area first and if the skin looks fine after 24 hours, you can freely use it all over the body.
Oils which are derived from citrus fruits are phototoxic, and when you use them onto the skin, it is recommended to avoid direct sunlight for 12 to 18 hours.
Hold the bottle to your nose and deeply inhale the aroma for 5 minutes.
Use an aromatherapy diffuser to diffuse the scent all over the room.
You can also purchase an aromatherapy necklace and use it for on-the-go relief.
Put several drops of essential oil to a warm bath and soak in it for half an hour.
Dilute and massage your entire body with an essential oil, as well as the areas where fat is accumulated.
There are specific weight loss blends which can help you in the process of weight loss by dissolving the fat and suppressing the appetite:
- Fat reducing massage-Mix a quarter cup of almond oil and five drops of grapefruit, lemon, and cypress oil.
- Anti cellulite rub- mix 10 drops of grapefruit oil, 5 drops of rosemary oil, and two drops of cypress, peppermint, and ginger oil. Blend it with carrier oil before you apply it onto the body.
- Rejuvenating bath- add 5 drops of grapefruit, ginger, orange, sandalwood, and lemon oil to a warm bath.
- Suppress the appetite- mix 40 drops of mandarin, 20 drops of lemon, 12 drops of ginger, and 12 drops of peppermint oil and then add couple of drops of the mixture to your diffuser.
- Metabolism booster- add 2 tbsp of jojoba oil, 10 drops of rosemary and cypress oil, and 8 drops of grapefruit oil to your warm bath.