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Health & Fitness

Essential Oils For Weight Loss: Everything You Need To Know

Yes you can use essential oils for weight loss, stress relief and to distract you from hunger pangs. But you need to check out the recipes and risks to finally decide if this is for you. 

Losing weight takes time. You need to do it in a healthy and sustainable way which doesn’t include fast diets, short workouts and starvation. If you don’t do it this way there are very high chances that your weight will come back and you’ll keep fluctuating. Since weight loss takes time, a stress-free way towards patience is to use some essential oils for weight loss. Certain essential oils are very beneficial to helping our bodies. That being said, just because you start using essential oils doesn’t mean that you are going to lose 20, 30 or 50 pounds. Instead it helps to support your body in important ways, chemically and biologically. 

Everything You Need To Know About Essential Oils For Weight Loss: 

How do you use essential oils for weight loss?

As far back as A.D. 1000, people have been using fragrant medicinal plants and roots, using steam or mechanical presses to extract essential oils.  These oils are used today by many healers and aromatherapy practitioners on the skin where the oils are absorbed into the body for healing: 

  • A group of above 250 patients found that those who inhaled a mixture of peppermint, ginger, spearmint, and cardamom experienced less nausea after surgery.
  • Lavender essential oil can lower levels of the stress hormone: cortisol.
  • Breathing in lemongrass aroma before a stressful event can prevent anxiety.
  • Tea tree and oregano essential oils can fight microbes, making these popular treatments for dandruff and toe fungus. 

We can even diffuse oils into the air with essential oil diffusers. A neuropsychologist and aromatherapist said that oils that bind to our smell receptors can stimulate the brain and our reactions. But there are groups of women who have suffered from allergic reactions and other risks, making us question the use of essential oils for healing and for weight loss. 

Is there an essential oil for weight loss?

Yes there are many essential oils for weight loss including: 

  • Lemon Oil: Lemon has been used to detox, support the digestive system and boost energy. Studies show that inhaling the scent of lemon essential oil can help with the breakdown of body fat. 
  • Grapefruit Oil: You’ve probably had a grapefruit for breakfast because it’s so healthy and the same goes for the oil derived from the grapefruit peel. Grapefruit essential oil helps to break down body fat, support the metabolism and helps the drainage of your lymphatic glands. It also stimulates enzymes in the saliva which helps to break down fat. You can apply small doses onto your skin or find creams with grapefruit essential oil in them. 
  • Ginger Oil: Just like the ginger roots helps to reduce inflammation and craving for sugar and aids in digestion. This oil also acts as a thermogenic, which means it can help to burn fat and boost your metabolism. You can add a small amount to your bath and soak in it to absorb its properties. 
  • Peppermint Oil: Inhaling the smell of peppermint is said to bring about relaxation for sore muscles and aids in recovery. It can also decrease your cravings. Peppermint has been found to be a good appetite suppressant, as it works by stimulating the part of the brain that experiences cravings, and, in essence, ‘distracting’ the brain from the craving so that the user has the chance to get distracted and then goes off and does something else, instead of wanting to eat. 
  • Lavender Oil: This oil is the most commonly used for stress and quality sleep As it helps to relieve tension, and because your body is breaking down and cleaning up your body at night- it helps with weight loss. Apply 4-5 drops of lavender essential oil on your hands or wrists,  on your temples and the back of your neck before you go to sleep. 

Does lemon essential oil help you lose weight?

Yes, Lemon essential oil has been used to detox, support the digestive system and boost energy. Studies show that inhaling the scent of lemon essential oil can help with the breakdown of body fat. 

Can ginger oil reduce belly fat?

Yes, just like the ginger roots helps to reduce inflammation and craving for sugar and aids in digestion, so does ginger oil. This oil also acts has  gingerols which reduces inflammation in the intestines and even helps to improve absorption of the vitamins and minerals you’re consuming from the food you eat regularly. You can add a small amount to your bath and soak in it to absorb its properties. 

A study was published in the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology in 2013. It stated that ginger essential oil has antioxidant properties as well as significant anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive properties. When ginger essential oil was used for a month, enzyme levels increased in the blood of mice. It also removed free radicals and produced significant reduction in acute inflammation. 

What essential oil helps with belly fat?

Lemon oil, ginger oil, grapefruit oil, cinnamon oil, peppermint oil, lavender oil and castor oil can help with belly fat.

Can castor oil reduce belly fat?

Castor oil is popularly used as a hack on the internet for stimulating hair growth. But castor oil can help with weight loss: 

  • A good source of ricinoleic acid is within castor oil, which is a good triglyceride fatty acid. 
  • Consumption of castor oil in your diet can also stimulate your metabolism and help you shed the weight.
  • It can reduce inflammatory markers and can prolong the hypoglycemic effect.
  • Castor oil prevents water retention, which again solves the issue of bloating. 
  • Application of castor oil or consuming it cleanses the extra water in the gut, colon and the walls of the digestive system fine-tune the metabolic system and detoxify the body in the process. 
  • BEWARE: The oil should be consumed cautiously as it a strong laxative agent and can cause diarrhea and related complications.

Can you rub coconut oil on your stomach to lose weight?

While you cannot rub coconut oil on your stomach and expect weight loss, the consumption of coconut oil can help some people with the same. However there isn’t sufficient research conducted to deliver the potential results of weight loss. 

  • During a 4-week study in 91 adults, there wasn’t any significant differences in body weight between groups that ate 1.8 ounces (50 grams) of either coconut oil, butter, or olive oil per day 
  • But a 4 week research in 20 obese adults suggested that coconut oil can reduce belly fat. After taking 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of coconut oil daily, there was a  significantly waist circumference reduction in male participants 
  • Another research study was conducted with 32 adults. It showed that taking 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of coconut oil daily for 8 weeks neither affected weight loss or weight gain, suggesting that this oil doesn’t help with weight loss. 

What does a good essential oil routine look like? 

Let’s look at the example of how to use grapefruit essential oil for weight loss. Grapefruit essential oil helps to break down body fat, support the metabolism and helps the drainage of your lymphatic glands. It also stimulates enzymes in the saliva which helps to break down fat. 

Application: 

  1. This oil can be applied in small doses onto your skin or you can find creams with grapefruit essential oil in them, especially cellulite creams. 
  2. To consume the oil, you can add a drop of both grapefruit oil and patchouli oil to water. This mixture helps to lower cravings. 
  3. You can also add this essential oil to an essential oil diffuser at your home or office. 

Cinnamon essential oil can also be used for weight loss. This oil helps to balance blood sugar and regulate glucose tolerance factor. Unstable blood sugar can lead to overeating and weight gain. 

Application: 

  1. To apply cinnamon essential oil on your skin you can use mix it with coconut oil. 
  2. To consume cinnamon oil you can add small amounts to tea or smoothies, apples  and other baked goods. 
  3. Use a diffuser and diffuse it on your desk at the office or around your home to stimulate areas of your body that will actually support weight loss.

Essential oils for weight loss recipes: 

We can use essential oils for weight loss by distracting the mind for food cravings after you’ve already eaten lunch or breakfast. For example, inhaling the aroma of peppermint has been found to be a good appetite suppressant as it works by stimulating the part of the brain that experiences cravings, and, in essence, ‘distracting’ the brain from the cravings. 

Not only do you get distracted, the smell of these oils enter our nose and and stimulate with the hippocampus and the amygdala, two key areas of the brain which are responsible for memory and emotion. As we inhale essential oils, these parts of the brain are stimulated and can alter our mental state. So now the user is also calmer, relaxed and distracted from the emotions that cause cravings and emotional eating. 

Here are some essential oils weight loss recipes which vary from inhaling, diffusing, or rubbing essential oils to help decrease cravings, boost your energy levels and escalate your weight loss process. As long as you do not have any problem using these essential oils, there is no harm in trying them out.

Portable Inhalers: 

The simplest way is to create a personal inhaler, much like the Vicks Vaporub Balm. You will need: 

  • Lavender essential oil or peppermint essential oil
  • Cotton wicks
  • Personal inhaler cartridge

And here’s how to make it:

  1. Get a little DIY glass bowl. 
  2. Pour out about 15 drops of lavender or peppermint essential oil into the bowl.
  3. Put one of the cotton wicks inside the bowl until it soaks up the essential oil (you can use tweezers to handle the wick).
  4. Insert the wick inside the cartridge and snap on the cartridge cap.

Another recipe uses Basil, Oregano and Lemon to curb one’s appetite: 

  • Basil essential oil
  • Oregano essential oil
  • Lemon essential oil
Image Courtesy: Stephanie Blue

Aromatherapy or Essential Oil Diffusers:

Mix equal parts peppermint, lemon, and grapefruit to reduce cravings and boost fat burning. These scents go well together and create something that is fruity but cooling.

A mix of lavender, basil, grapefruit, juniper, and cypress is more relaxing. If you are one of those people who believe that they eat healthily, but still struggle to lose weight, this blend may help you. This concoction helps to reduce stress and reduce emotional eating or hunger pangs like snacking when you are not hungry. 

A blend of eucalyptus, peppermint, lavender, cypress, and wintergreen is a good option for people who are stress-snackers like those who have a deadline or an exam coming up. 

Eucalyptus essential oil is quite understated, so you will usually want slightly more of that compared to the peppermint and lavender.  It will help to reduce any stress and help you to keep making good food decisions all throughout the day. 

Massage:

For massage oils since you will be applying the oil directly to your skin, mix it with a carrier oil, and need only a low concentration. Make sure you do a patch test of your essential oils before giving yourself a full massage, to ensure that you are not sensitive to the oils. Plus, if you ever buy an oil from a different supplier, do a quick test then too. 

Risks of using essential oils

Essential oils aren’t regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. When companies who want to sell mass produced essential oils, they overstate their potential and downplay risk. Then ill-informed users come face to face with many risks. In 2017, a group of 55 people, comprising of five children and two pregnant women, reported serious reactions to essential oils.  

In 2014, the FDA sent warning letters to companies for wrongly promoting unsubstantiated claims that their essential oils could treat everything from herpes to Ebola. The FDA says only manufacturers of drugs which pass the agency’s rigorous approval process are allowed to make such claims. 

The Stacey Haluka Case from Web MD:

Stacey Haluka infused her water with citrus oils said to detoxify and lathered her skin with stress-relieving lavender. When a small rash was spotted on her forearm, a salesperson convinced her that it was a normal “detox” reaction and advised her to rub frankincense oil on it. 

After a few months, raised welts began to appear across her stomach and up the back of her neck. Eventually Stacy was taken to the emergency room, eyes swollen, oozing blisters across her face, where doctors swiftly put her on steroids. Her diagnosis was a deadly toxic reaction to essential oils.

“Four years later, I still struggle,” says Haluka, who is scarred and still so sensitive to the oils that she has to carefully choose her personal care products and breaks out in hives when around someone wearing them.

But as their do-it-yourself use explodes, concerns abound.

Cynthia Bailey, MD, a dermatologist said: “There is definitely credible science behind certain benefits for certain essential oils…However, you have to choose wisely” 

The Case of Rachel Armstrong: 

Rachael Armstrong, a 44-year-old mother of five from Omaha, NE, rubbed grapefruit oil on her feet as an appetite suppressant and spiked her water and laundry detergent with lemon oil. Eventually, she developed a severe sensitivity to the sun that left her with blisters and welts after just a few minutes exposed to its rays. “I admit I was probably overusing them,” she says. “But I don’t think people are aware that even though they’re natural products, they can do real damage.”

Many dermatologists have come across cases with rashes on eyelids from essential oil droplets which are sprayed from diffusers, rashes on mouths from peppermint oil-infused mouthwash or lip balm, and dime-sized blisters on toes from using concentrated levels of tea tree oil for toe fungus. One dermatologist said: “Once you become sensitized, you will forever be allergic to it.” 

Consumption Risks: 

  • Despite what several essential oil companies recommend, the oils generally should not be consumed. The body absorbs more and increases the chance that they will interact with medications or cause an allergic or toxic reaction. 
  • Even with continued exposure to small amounts (a few drops a day in a water bottle) consuming essential oils can lead to fatigue and headaches. 
  • Consuming large amounts of tea tree oil, camphor and wintergreen, can cause throat swelling, vomiting, a racing heart, and even seizures according to Tennessee Poison Center, which saw the number of toxic essential oil risks double up between 2011 to 2015.
  • Eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils have “phenol” which can irritate the respiratory tract if inhaled, particularly in babies.
  • For pregnant women, even oils used on the skin can enter the placenta and harm an unborn child. Infact, swallowing some rare oils, including pennyroyal, can lead to miscarriage.

As the FDA does not test oils for safety before they’re sold, it’s critical for consumers to go with a trusted brand. Peppermint, lemon and grapefruit oils are considered GRAS level oils.  GRAS is (Generally Recognized As Safe) by the FDA, which means that they are safe to ingest in small amounts. 

The key to using essential oils for weight loss is to use a very small amount and do a test patch on your skin if you want to apply it on your skin. Always blend it with a carrier oil. And while ingesting, please dilute the oils really well. 

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