Essential oils can be a divisive subject. There are those who are firm believers in their ability to do everything from treat acne (tea tree oil) to clean the refrigerator (lime oil), and there are others who aren’t quite sure what they even are, let alone how to use them. If you find yourself a member of the latter group, the many ways essential oils can be used is extensive and there’s certainly a few you’ll find most beneficial to you. After all, who wouldn’t want an elevated mood, relaxed body and increased cognitive function? You can receive all of this and more by incorporating more essential oils into your daily life.
One area that people may not realize essential oils can have staggeringly positive benefits is how they relate to weight loss. Here are some of the best essential oils to help you achieve your weight loss goals.
1. Lavender oil
One of the most commonly used essential oils is lavender, touted for its abilities to soothe and relax. Lavender oil is recommended as a way to combat nervous energy, stress and restlessness. Unfortunately, anyone who is dealing with excess stress in their lives while trying to lose weight will tell you it’s an uphill battle — and not just psychologically.
Research shows that individuals who experience more stress and anxiety have larger amounts of cortisol, a.k.a. the “stress hormone,” in their bodies. Increased cortisol levels can lead to higher LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, raised blood pressure and increased BMI (body mass index). Interestingly enough, the weight gain directly correlated to stress tends to settle in one’s abdomen or mid-section, which explains why individuals with high degrees of stress tend to have the most belly fat.
Applying a few drops of the essential oil to one’s wrist (like you would a perfume) or to the soles of the feet before bedtime can help those who are dealing with stress and anxiety.
2. Peppermint oil
No longer just a staple during the holidays, peppermint oil is derived from two types of mint (water mint and spearmint) and has been used for medicinal purposes dating back to ancient Greek and Egyptian times.
These days, in addition to boosting mood and energy levels, peppermint oil has been used as a digestive aid with some research focusing directly on its ability to help treat symptoms associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). IBS affects roughly 20 percent of people living in the United States alone, with symptoms ranging from cramps and bloating to alternating bouts of diarrhea and constipation. Anyone who suffers from IBS will be the first to say that it can last for years, if not a lifetime.
Recent research has shown there may be a link between IBS and obesity, however, additional research is needed to determine whether sufferers of IBS tend to be obese or if having IBS leads to obesity. While the jury is still out on the cause versus effect, studies have been done showing the positive effects of peppermint oil on sufferers of IBS with mild constipation and diarrhea-associated symptoms.
Thankfully, peppermint essential oil is one that can be safely consumed. It has been added to candies, gums, teas, the list goes on and on. However, it is important to note that when consuming peppermint oil, or any essential oil, it must be therapeutic-grade essential oil. The less-is-more approach works best here — usually just a drop or two will do the trick. While peppermint oil has been known to cause consumers to burp, it is also effective in soothing the stomach and easing bloating. If you prefer not to take pure oil, look for enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules.
3. Bergamot oil
One of the lesser-known essential oils is bergamot, derived from the Italian citrus plant that features the vibrant color of a lime and is roughly the size of an orange. The oil is extracted from the fruit’s peel and, similar to lavender and peppermint oil, bergamot has positive impacts on the body’s hormonal systems to help produce feelings of relaxation and calm. This, in turn, can help lower the body’s production of cortisol and stress-related inflammation.
Bergamot can also help with stabilizing blood sugar and HDL cholesterol levels, two essential components of weight loss and management. A study performed by the International Journal of Cardiology found that participants who took 1,000 milligrams of bergamot daily saw a significant reduction of their cholesterol levels, with some being able to cut their cholesterol-reducing prescription drug use by half.
Because cholesterol is a type lipid, or fat, produced by your body, a diet with excess cholesterol can build up in the body’s arteries and lead to weight gain (as well as a host of other issues, most notably cardiovascular). Some individuals are genetically predisposed to high cholesterol which is why a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, whole grains and produce is essential for weight management.
Bergamot oil works well when applied topically to the stomach to aid in digestion or inhaled using an aromatherapy diffuser for its mood-boosting properties. It is also a key ingredient in Earl Gray tea for its distinctive odor and taste.
4. Grapefruit oil
Research is rife with the staggering benefits of grapefruit, especially for healthy weight loss and management. From its high concentration of vitamin C, to its ability to boost metabolism and increase energy levels, this is one superfood we should all strive to eat more of.
While the pulp is where people derive the most nutritional value from, the peel is what is used to create the essential oil. It is also touted as one of the more versatile essential oils on the market, due to its clean, fresh scent and disinfecting properties. Those same disinfecting properties can also have positive impacts on the body, specifically the liver, where grapefruit oil is found to help aid in the elimination of toxins and waste.
Grapefruit oil can also be used to stimulate the body’s lymphatic system and help control fluid retention. This makes it an excellent choice for easing symptoms associated with bloating and why it is a common ingredient found in many topical products, such as cellulite creams and body lotions.
One of the main components in grapefruit oil, limonene, has been found to reduce appetite and hunger cravings, simply by inhaling its aroma. This is further enhanced when mixed with patchouli oil. Try mixing the oils into an aromatherapy diffuser or diluting with a carrier oil (such as argan or coconut oil) and applying topically. Just be sure to go sparingly as too much grapefruit oil can overstimulate the lymphatic system and act as a diuretic. You can also add a few drops of therapeutic-grade grapefruit oil to your water and reap the benefits from the inside out. Although, it’s worth reminding again that, as with all essential oils, it’s best to use them sparingly.
Which essential oils do you use for weight loss? Let us know in the comments!
— Megan Harris