This is a good question, and the answer may surprise you.
Humans have a keen sense of smell. Scientists know that when we are hungry, our bodies boost the performance of our sense of smell in order to improve our chances of finding food (1). This is a survival mechanism. When we are hungry, food smells and tastes amazing, leading to the easy conclusion that if we let ourselves get too hungry, we are very likely to overeat.
Scientific research shows that we prefer sweet smells, and that strongly sweet scents such as chocolate often triggers feelings of hunger and leads to overeating or binge eating, while “neutral” sweet smells actually curbs appetite. A scientific study asked 3,193 overweight people (mostly women) aged 18-64 to inhale a variety of what was considered neutral sweet smells: banana, green apple, vanilla, and peppermint, three times in each nostril whenever they were hungry. After six months, the participants lost an average of five pounds per month (2).
It makes sense that smell plays a large part in our hunger cues. If humans’ olfactory systems become enhanced when hungry, it is reasonable to believe that suppressing smell may decrease appetite.
In consideration of essential oils, inhalation is the single most effective way to receive their benefits. When aromas reach the olfactory bulb, they not only trigger the limbic system (emotional center), it triggers your hypothalamus, too. The hypothalamus is the portion of your brain that is connected to satiety. Odor molecules actually inform your brain that you have eaten enough and you are full. You see, it is not only our stomach that dictates our hunger!
Therefore, specific essential oils can be used in an inhaler to curb our food cravings. We know based on the above study that certain smells work better than others; but remember, we are not all the same, so personal experimentation may be in order. One thing is for sure: The aromas of essential oils can definitely play a role in weight loss through curbing cravings.
For this cause, Plant Therapy’s team of Certified Aromatherapists created Munchy Stop Synergy (reformulated in late 2017). We designed this blend to help manage hunger cravings, promote healthy eating habits, and help reduce the desire to snack between meals.
Here are 5 more single oils that can help you along your weight loss journey:
Peppermint can boost energy levels, which can help maximize your workouts. Not to mention, its soothing properties can help soothe sore muscles after exercise.
Lemon is also a stimulating oil. It promotes a positive mood, which will keep you in a positive mindset.
Lavender and Bergamot are calming, relaxing oils. Over-stressed people tend to overeat, or eat unhealthily. Naturally, if you can lower your stress level, you can better avoid stress-eating (also known as emotional eating).
Grapefruit Pink, diluted to 1% in a carrier oil, can be applied topically to the abdomen to aid with digestive upset.
We hope that this clears up any questions you had in regards to using essential oils for weight loss. If you have any further questions or need clarification, please comment below or reach out to one of our on-staff aromatherapists: [email protected]
(1) Scent and how it affects appetite and satisfaction. Retrieved from: https://www.escoffieronline.com/scent-and-how-it-affects-appetite-and-satisfaction/
(2) Hirsch, A.R., Gomez, R. (1995) Weight reduction through inhalation of odorants. J Neurol Orthopedic Medical Surgery. 16:28-31