People who love essential oils swear they can do a slew of things, ranging from giving your memory a boost to helping you de-bloat. Some even claim that certain oils can help you lose weight.
It’s easy to dismiss the weight-loss claims, but Gina Keatley, a certified dietician nutritionist practicing in New York City, says there may be something to them—in the short-term at least. This works in two ways, she explains. Scents such as citrus (and grapefruit in particular) cause a response in your nervous system that dampens your appetite. Try NOW's 3-Pack Variety Citrus Blend ($11.75, amazon.com). Some other smells, like vanilla and cinnamon, can act as a treat for your nose, which means your brain can interpret these smells as the consumption of actual food, she says.
Your nose and the receptors in them have a very close link to the brain, and each scent has a specific chemical configuration that causes your body to respond in a particular way, Keatley says. Citrus, for example, is a bitter smell that may trigger the fight or flight response in your autonomous nervous system, shutting down hunger hormones in the process.
Essential oils can also help people de-stress and given that stress is one of the biggest reasons why people overindulge, it could potentially help people lose weight, says Julie Upton, R.D., co-founder of nutrition website Appetite for Health.
There are no standards of practice for using essential oils, but Keatley recommends just taking a whiff of a particular scent for help (try it before you eat or when cravings strike to get maximum benefits). Rotate your scents if you can to try different ones. Just don't ingest them—there are risks associated with ingesting spoonfuls of oils because they are active supplements, and the risks are similar to taking supplements in pill form, says Beth Warren, R.D.N., founder of Beth Warren Nutrition and author of Living a Real Life with Real Food.
While the idea of using essential oils to lose weight is cool, it’s still better to eat a healthy diet if you want to lose weight. “They won't hurt, but I would stick with eating a plant-based diet before relying on essential oils any day,” Upton says.
After gaining nearly 100lbs while suffering from PCOS, my journey to lose weight has finally ended and my love and appreciation for healthy but delicious food has just begun. This my story on how I lost nearly 90lbs while still completely indulging in life.