Walk into any health food store and there's sure to be a shelf lined with bottles of fragrant essential oils. But what the heck do you do with them? Well, it turns out that there's a variety of ways that you can incorporate them into your daily routine to help with your diet. Essential oils are really a versatile tool that can aid with detoxing your body, curbing your urge to overeat, and managing your stress levels.
There are various ways to apply essential oils for maximum benefits. Staci Shacter, MS, RD, LDN, at the Carillon Miami Beach recommends rubbing them on your feet after your shower. "Different parts of the bottom of your feet correspond to different organ systems in the body. This is the basis for reflexology," she says. "Rubbing therapeutic grade essential oils into your feet is a great way for these powerful oils to get to the whole body! It is also one of the least sensitive skin areas on the body."
You can also dab essential oils on your wrists instead of perfume. And it's even okay to add therapeutic grade essential oils directly to water, yogurt, foods, or other beverages. "Many people who try this don't seem to have any adverse reactions and actually report positive effects to their immune system, digestive system, energy, and mood," says Shacter. "Pay attention to your body. If it's too strong for you, do not take oils orally. You can also have one drop in your water three or four times a day."
With all that said, which essential oils should you be using for maximum results and benefits? Here are the 12 best (and expert approved!) ones to help you manage your weight and diet goals. For another holistic health approach, don't miss these 22 Best Teas for Weight Loss!
With its detoxifying and regenerating properties, lemon essential oil helps shed pounds while boosting your energy levels and your mood. "It bumps up the vitamin C quotient and rejuvenates skin and body healing," explains Loni Morse, health coach, and essential oil educator. "Add two drops of lemon to water every morning. If you're not comfortable with ingesting essential oils, then simply add one or two drops of lemon oil to the bottom of your feet." FYI, lemon water is one of the 21 Healthy Ways to Detox Without Juicing.
This lovely scented oil promotes a feeling of calm, removes nervous exhaustion, calms restlessness, and increases mental activity. When you're feeling zen, it's easier to get into the right frame of mind for focusing on your weight and overall health. "Lavender is great for digestion, sleep, and even pain relief," says Morse. "Put two drops on the wrists twice a day to support the adrenals or apply to the soles of the feet before bedtime."
"There is a ton of research showing how eating grapefruit helps promote weight loss by helping with blood sugar, appetite, and the breakdown of fat," explains Shacter. "However, grapefruit essential oil has been shown to impact the same mechanisms for weight loss as eating grapefruit." Morse suggests adding a few drops to the carrier oil that you would rub/massage on your body to get the blood and lymph moving. Carrier oil—usually a base or vegetable oil—is used to dilute essential oils before they're applied to the skin.
Peppermint cleanses the lymphatic system and is anti-inflammatory; it can help you release your weight gain and a sluggish digestion. "When applied topically, peppermint helps support the gallbladder and decreases inflammation as well," says Morse. "Place one or two drops under the tongue or take in a capsule. Dilute 1:3 (one drop essential oil to three drops carrier oil) and apply directly on the area of concern."
Bergamot is a citrus fruit the size of an orange with a color similar to a lemon. "As an essential oil, it's a stress reliever and stress is a major contributor when it comes to emotional eating, illness, and disease," explains Morse. "Bergamot creates a sense of well-being and relaxation, and it also regulates craving and lifts spirits." To get the maximum effects, apply to the bottom of the feet every morning or add to a warm bath.
"Lemongrass is essential for drainage within the body," says Morse. "It's analgesic, anti-fungal, antioxidants, anti-parasitic, antiseptic, astringent and sedative." For everyday use, apply it directly to the skin or add it to your body lotion.
Ginger is a well-known stomach soother often used to aid digestion and eliminate motion sickness and nausea. But is also great for cleansing the liver, balancing blood sugar, and improving metabolism. "For everyday use, take in capsules or use as flavoring in cooking," suggests Morse. Speaking of boosting your metabolism, don't miss these Best Ways to Boost Metabolism.
Juniper Berry Oil
Juniper Berry helps the body to throw off toxic wastes while improving elimination and supporting liver function. "Add two drops to your wrists twice a day to detox the liver, kidneys, colon, lungs and skin," recommends Morse. "It can be found in doTerra's Zendocrine—a detoxification blend—of tangerine, rosemary, geranium, juniper berry, and cilantro essential oils that support the body's natural ability to rid itself of unwanted substances."
Slim and Sassy Oil
Slim and Sassy is a blend by doTerra that includes grapefruit, lemon, peppermint, ginger, and cinnamon essential oils—and it's also safe for internal use. "It's an appetite suppressant that works on cellulite, obesity, overeating, weight loss, cleansing the liver, balancing blood sugar, and improving metabolism," says Morse. "Add eight drops to 16 ounces of water and drink between meals throughout the day to help manage hunger, calm your stomach, and lift your mood." Psst! If dimpled skin plagues your body, familiarize yourself with these 21 Best and Worst Foods for Cellulite.
"Sniffing rosemary essential oil for five minutes can significantly reduce your cortisol levels. So, not only are you less stressed, but your waistline will thank yo,u too! "Keep a little bottle by your bed and in your desk," says Karena Dawn and Katrina Hodgson of Tone It Up. "In the morning when we get up or before we go to bed, and whenever we feel stressed throughout the day, we'll put a small dab on our wrists and breathe in with slow, diaphragmatic breaths. Bye-bye, high cortisol levels! Hello, bikini bod."
When your blood sugar is stable, you're less likely to have cravings and overeat. "You are also not going to store as much fat," says Shacter. "Insulin spikes impact the way you burn and store energy. If you want to keep it burning, keep that blood sugar stable!" And according to NY Health and Wellness Life Strategist Gina Lindsay, cinnamon is known to boost the metabolism, as well as break down sugars into energy instead of storing them as fat. "To get the most benefit of cinnamon oil, take it before a meal," she says.
Fennel essential oil is actually a source of melatonin. While you usually hear about people taking melatonin as a sleep aid, it's also been found to reduce weight gain by creating more good, beige or brown fat (that burns off as energy) instead of bad, white fat (which is stored for energy). In the middle ages, fennel seeds were eaten on fasting days because it was an appetite suppressant. In fact, a study on fennel oil aromatherapy performed on rats showed that rats that inhaled fennel oil twice a day for 10 minutes ate fewer calories and had a faster rate of food digestion. And if hunger is a regular battle for you, be sure to avoid these 25 Foods That Make You Hungrier!