The world at large has long acknowledged the efficacy of aromatherapy to help improve sleep and relaxation, lift the mood, and even enhance memory and concentration, but can essential oils really help with weight loss? Scientists have carried out extensive research to study the relationship between weight loss and the sense of smell, and their conclusion to our question is a definite “Yes”.
Having said that, just like there is no pill or powder that will magically shed the extra kilogrammes for you, aromatherapy is certainly not a “magic bullet” or instant weight loss cure. Rather, it is a valuable tool that can be incorporated into a healthy weight loss programme. Research has shown that aromatherapy helps greatly in suppressing the appetite, enhancing one’s mood and well-being, and in losing weight in a sustainable manner. In fact, when used as part of a calorie-controlled diet, it can potentially help people to lose up to seven times more weight than normal. Piqued your curiosity? Read on.
How Aromatherapy Works for Weight Loss
The reasons for weight gain are usually multi-faceted and complex, and ranges from physical factors to mental and emotional issues. The following are some ways in which aromatherapy may directly or indirectly help in your journey towards losing weight and more importantly, gaining back health and renewed confidence and zest for life!
Reduce Your Cravings
Scientific research has confirmed that the sense of smell has a major role in affecting your appetite. When you inhale certain essential oils, microscopic molecules of those oils directly stimulate the satiety centre of the brain. A feeling of fullness is relayed to the stomach, and this stops the craving for food and balances the appetite. In fact, our sense of smell actually triggers feelings of fullness before our stomach does – so you feel full sooner and end up eating less.
One important point to note in using these essential oils to curb your cravings and suppress your appetite is to inhale the appetite-suppressing essential oil for at least five minutes. Inhaling for less than five minutes may actually stimulate your appetite!
Aromatherapy for Suppressing Appetite
Grapefruit*, basil, bergamot, clary sage, cumin, dill, fennel, ginger, lemon, marjoram, patchouli, peppermint, sandalwood, spearmint, thyme, vanilla and ylang ylang
Lift Your Mood
One reason that people tend to overeat or sabotage their weight loss plans is when they eat for comfort, for instance when they’re bored, depressed, stressed, or in grief. If you find yourself afflicted by these emotions and turning to food, try to find a healthier solution. Eating will not solve the problem, and may in fact further lower your self-esteem once the binge is over. Aromatherapy is one tool to address depression, anxiety, stress, and grief. These are all feelings that some essential oils can alleviate or perhaps even eliminate. This is where aromatherapy steps in and helps a person lose weight.
Breathing in the pleasant smell of essential oils triggers positive reactions in the brain, resulting in a sense of happiness and comfort. Once our mood is lifted, we no longer feel the urge to fill that void. Experiment with some of the essential oils suggested below to see which are best at altering your mood.
Stress can also directly lead to weight gain. This is because when you are in a state of stress, your body secretes cortisol, a hormone which causes weight gain. A regular aromatherapy massage at the spa may help you achieve weight loss results, by increasing your sense of well-being and relaxation.
Aromatherapy for Improving Mood
Frankincense, ylang ylang, grapefruit, lavender, sandalwood, geranium, rose, bergamot, vetiver, mandarin, roman chamomile, may chang, jasmine, clary sage and neroli (orange blossom)
Boost Your Energy
Exercise is a big part of any weight loss plan. Dieting alone will help you to lose some weight, but exercise will let you lose a lot more and a lot faster. Nonetheless, in today’s fast-paced world with all its demands, fatigue may sometimes be an issue. Well, rev up your internal engine with aromatherapy. Researchers have shown that some aromas have an “energetic” feeling which raises energy within our mind and body. They provide us with an energy boost when used during workouts or even when we feel bored.
If aches and pains are your “excuse” for not getting on the treadmill, aromatherapy can also work wonders to ease muscle pain and awaken tired limbs. The essential oils listed below may give you the extra lift you need to hit the gym or start an exercise programme. And of course, getting a professional massage therapist to work deep into those muscles with these oils is just pure bliss.
Aromatherapy for Increasing Energy
Lime, orange, lemon, peppermint, vanilla, grapefruit and rosemary
Aromatherapy for Relieving Muscle Pain
Birch, chamomile, ginger, jasmine, lavender, marjoram, melissa, peppermint and rosemary
ABOUT Tiffany Wee
Trained as an Australian naturopath and nutritionist, Tiffany is the founder of Mind Body Shine and has consulted in world-renowned health establishments like Chiva Som, Verita, ESPA and Balanced Living. Her expertise lies in family health, chronic disease and weight management. With a passion for mindfulness, she regularly hosts day retreats on mindful eating and self-care. To book in a health consult or retreat, please visit www.tiffanywee.com.
Learn more about her and her previous contributions here.