Essential Oils For Weight Loss

The only universal statement we can make about weight loss and weight maintenance is eat a variety of food, watch portion size, and move or exercise The truth is that there is no diet program right for all of us. Why? We are all different and individual. No one plan will work for us all. Some of us need more fat, more carbohydrate, or more protein. What you need and in what proportion is important for you to answer. How much activity or kind of exercise you need also requires an answer from you. When you have determined this information, you will be ready to look at essential oils and how they can support you in weight loss and maintenance.

This paper will look at various support systems to further weight loss and maintenance. One of those topics is brain chemistry and how essential oils effect the amount and desire for food. We will examine a portion of Ayurvedic medicine that looks at body types and how essential oils can help the Kappa Type maintain ideal body weight. Abuse especially sexual abuse and poor self-esteem can effect how a person uses food. Essential oils can increase a feeling of well being countering issues of abuse and low self-esteem. Essential oils can also help control and eliminate cellulite. Brain chemistry, Ayurvedic medicine, abuse and poor self esteem, and cellulite are four subjects that teamed with essential oils can improve weight loss and weight maintenance.

Brain Chemistry
There is chemistry involved in smelling food and wanting food. First it is a learned response.
see the food, smell the food = want the food, eat the food.

There is also this formula:

see the food,smell the food = don't want the food, don't eat the food.
What happens in the second formula? Many people think that being hungry has to do with blood sugar levels or a full stomach. Dr. Alan Hirsch says that this isn't true. We feel full "because of a special mechanism in our brain. Specifically, the satiety response is regulated in what is technically known as the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus, a portion of the brain that regulates many basic drives. We call this portion of the hypothalamus the satiety center. One reason we stop eating is that this center signals a fullness or a sense of being satisfied." Scientists have damaged this part of the brain in rats and the rats have eaten themselves to death.

How can we affect the hypothalamus to signal full? The nose is directly connected to the hypothalamus. So now we have another formula;
I smelled it = I ate it
Dr. Hirsch points out that when the nose is stuffy or not fully open that it actually smells more deeply. The more deeply you smell; the more the hypothalamus is effected. Your nose has two nostrils and only one is open at a time. Smelling through the nostril that is not as open can cause greater stimulation to the hypothalamus. Take your finger and close one side of your nose. Now smell. Close the other side and smell. Notice the difference in scent and ease of smell. One side is harder to smell through and the scent is stronger.

Dr. Hirsch explains it this way.
An odor molecule in the air makes its way to the top of the nose to a pin-sized area of the olfactory membrane where millions of olfactory receptors are found. The odor molecule moves through a thin area of mucous and binds to receptor sites on the olfactory nerve. These receptor sites may be very specific, in that they are designed to detect particular odor molecules. We also know that some odor molecules respond better at some receptor sites than at others, which is part of the mechanism that allows us to discriminate between odors and identify odors that are present in our environment. Each of these receptors-and we have millions of them-will link with odor molecules that match them. Once an odor molecule reaches a receptor site, the body's electrical signaling system begins operation. The odor molecule stimulates a long thin neuron nerve cell-known as the bipolar receptor cell-to fire. We can think of this as stimulus-response

odor molecules-fire, mechanism. Now a representation of the odor molecule is transmitted up to the olfactory bulb at the top of the nose. The important point here is that the representation-or neural image or picture-of the odor changes. Through a complex mechanism, the original odor stimulus is intensified by a factor of one thousand. The intensified odor signal is projected through the olfactory bulb and reaches the main components of the brain. In other words, the system operates to take individual odor molecules and then intensifies them in such a way that the brain can respond to them.

The part of the brain where this is taking place is called the limbic lobe and is the seat of our emotions. The limbic lobe activates the hypothalamus which controls our drives and instincts and of course the ability to feel full. So you can see that smelling food can trigger instinctive or mindless behavior and we put food in our mouth. An emotional state could also trigger a desire for food.

We can also control what we feel by smelling certain scents. Vanilla scent in a home for sale seems to increase its chance for being sold. It is thought the vanilla gives one a sense of security, home, and feels good. Scents can also be used in the opposite direction. You can see and smell donuts on your office counter and be stimulated to eat one. If you take out vanilla essential oil and smell it, you can connect with the feeling of security, home, and just feel good. This could replace the need to eat the donut with the pleasure of feeling comfortable, at home, and secure at work.

Our sense of smell is directly linked to our survival and directly linked to our emotional center not our rational or cerebral cortex. Without having to intellectually respond to scent, we can react very quickly or unconsciously. Sense of smell can help us control appetite and all those irrational responses we have to food. Perhaps our sense of smell used consciously can give us control where our will power failed. Perhaps using scent can control cravings.

The Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Institute of Chicago found that inhaling a culinary scent (Basil, Oregano, Lemon, etc.) regularly throughout the day, especially when hungry can suppress the desire to taste and therefore eat. By inhaling an aroma six times in each nostril, the desire to eat is inhibited. Dr. Hirsch in his research found that sniffing three times in each nostril was sufficient. If the scent is not adequately smelled, it can increase the desire to eat so it is important to smell the oil deeply and as many times as suggested. They also found that the oils should be changed daily for the best effect. We are naturally attracted to different smells and tastes each day and eating the same foods again and again leads to feelings of deprivation which is the most important cause of failure of most diets. Cheating on a diet could just be another way to increase variety in the diet. Dr. Hirsch in his study also found that you could not smell too much. In fact, the more people that used scent to control their appetite, the more weight they lost in his study.

Which scents to use
Most people tend to prefer sweet smells. Chocolate fragrance creates serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is linked with cravings for sweets. Smelling chocolate can reduce the desire for sweets. Banana, green apples, and peppermint were found to be most successful. The flower and medicinal smelling oils were least effective. The oils associated with cooking or culinary herbs were best.

Fragrances are not essential oils and some people do not like using synthetic products such as fragrances as they can create allergic reactions. Essential oils are natural products usually steam distilled from plant material. Most people seem to be handled natural essential oils more easily, but people can have allergic reactions to essential oils too. See what works for you.

Essential Oils

Allspice Cinnamon Leaf Ginger Black Pepper
Bitter Almond Clementine Grapefruit Peppermint
Anise Clove Bud Laurel Leaf Rosemary
Basil Coriander Seed Lemon Sage
Caraway Seed Cornmint Lime Sassafras
Cassia Bark Cumin Seed Marjoram Savory
Celery Leaves Black Cumin Mentha Citrata Spearmint
Celery Seed Dill Seed Nutmeg Thyme
Cilantro Dill Weed Orange Vanilla
Cinnamon Bark Fennel Parsley Wintergreen


Banana Coffee Green Tea Peach
Chocolate Green Apple Maple Syrup  

How to use the essential oils and/or fragrances to control appetite
Choose three or more essential oils to use through out your day. Make sure that you carry them on you or keep them close by. The more you use them; the more effective they will be. Each day change the oils you used previously with three new ones. When you find you are tempted, you feel hungry, or beginning to eat a meal, just open the bottle and take at least three whiffs in each nostril. Breath as deeply as you can especially with the one nostril that is partially closed. Put the cap back on. You do not want to diffuse or use in the space constantly as you become used to the smell and it is not as effective. The goal here is not to eat, but to eat when you want and how much you want easily and comfortably.

People with asthma or migraine headaches may find that sniffing a variety of smells can aggravate their conditions so they need to be very careful.

Toxicity of the liver has been reported when people use extreme amounts of oil. Essential oils are not water-soluble. The liver must break them down the oil into a more soluble form by the use of enzymes. If the oil is introduced into the body at a rate faster than the liver can convert it, toxicity can result. Primarily this has been noted in skin application, but it is worth noting so that one is respectful in using the oils. Inhaling as instructed here should not cause a problem.

Ayurveda and Body Types
Dr. Light Miller in her book, Ayurveda and Aromatherapy, does a lovely job of explaining how Ayurveda medicine classifies people into doshas or body types. There are three main ones called Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. They combine into seven mixed types and most people can find themselves within these different types. What is of most interest to us and this paper is the Kapha type.

Kaphas tend to have large bodies with heavy bone structure and slow metabolism. They also tend to have large foreheads, large liquid eyes, and large teeth. They tend to gain weight easily and often have problems with sugar and are prone to diabetes. The philosophy in Ayruvedic medicine says that these doshas can become imbalanced and the person tends to become ill or show signs of the imbalance. Weight gain can be one of those signs for imbalanced Kapha. Dr. Light Miller has listed several oils to correct a Kapha imbalance. She says that the warming and drying oils are best for Kaphas and help to bring this dosha into balance.

Ajowan* Cloves* Garlic* Pennyroyal**
Anise Coriander Ginger* Sassafras**
Bay Cumin Juniper Berry * Thyme*
Black Pepper Cypress Nutmeg* Turmeric
White Camphor Damiana Orange Peel Valerian Root
Cardamom Eucalyptus Oregano *  
Cinnamon* Fennel Parsley  

* Indicates oils that should be used carefully as they tend to burn
** Indicates oils that should be avoided unless under supervision of a Certified Aromatherapist
If you are pregnant, only use these oils under the supervision of a Certified Aromatherapist or not at all.


How to use the oils
Dr. Miller suggests using a bath of 5 drops cypress, 5 drops juniper berry, and 5 drops orange to help water retention. You can use the above oils to create other baths. Use Dr. Miller's bath as a guide for the number of drops to use.

When Massaging Kaphas, the essential oils need to be mixed with a fixed or vegetable oil like fractionated coconut oil, jojoba, sweet almond, or your own skin cream or lotion. Kapha skin requires the smallest amount of fixed oil for the skin. I oz of fixed oil to 15 drops of birch, clary sage, cypress, orange, rosemary, eucalyptus, or juniper berry. This formula will help relieve edema and increase circulation.

Food cooked with these essential oils will also help the digestion of food. Menkit Prince has written The Essential Oil Cookbook that has lots of ideas on how to use essential oils in food. Smelling the above essential oils while cooking or before eating may be helpful in curbing the appetite.

Cellulite Control
Patricia Davis in Aromatherapy An A-Z, says that cellulite came from the word cellutitis which was a medical condition used to describe inflamed cellular tissue usually resulting from an infection. Then the term started being used by alternative practitioners and the beauty field to refer to "infiltration of the subcutaneous fat cells by fluids and toxic waste." The medical professionals said that was not true and the word cellulite was born to describe this kind of fat condition.

Cellulite is real and affects women. It is a fat condition, but there is a puckering associated with this fat and it is sometimes called orange peel skin. Cellulite tends to mean that the person is sedentary with a poor lymphatic system and sluggish elimination so that the body stores toxins that it is unable to eliminate and the toxins go into the fat. It is not just a beauty issue. Ridding the body of cellulite will not only allow the person to be thinner but healthier.

Jeanne Rose's book, The Aromatherapy Book of Application and Inhalation gives a five-step program to rid cellulite.
"1. Drink plenty of water and no Tea, Coffee or alcohol
2. Eat simple nourishing foods about 1200 calories per day. Include in your day's allowance of food 1 each of Orange, Apple, Tomato and Carrot to encourage good elimination. Eat several vegetable servings, a giant salad and vegetable or animal protein once a day.
3. Drink Obesity Tea:
Juice of 1 lemon
Finely chopped peel of 1/2 Lemon
1 drop Lemon essential oil (preferably organic)
1 drop Lovage
12 oz of soda water.
Stir thoroughly and drink once per day before breakfast.
4.Take daily Aromatherapy Cellulite baths.
5. Scrub and rub the cellulite deposits daily with a loofah or hemp brush." Massage oils into skin from formula below.


Cellulite Baths

Fill the tub with warm water. Add a cup of apple cider vinegar. In a separate bottle, measure out these essential oils. Enter the bath and add the essential oils making sure that you disperse them with your hand well. Soak for approximately 30 minutes. You may need to have some olive oil to add to the water or your skin if it tingles or burns. Some of these oils are considered hot and heat the skin and water.

Citronella 5 drops
Sandalwood 5 drops
Grapefruit 5 drops
Orange 5 drops
Amyris 5 drops
Tasmanian Lavender 5 drop

Litsea Cubeba 5 drops
Guaiacwood 5 drops
Ginger 5 drops
Cypress 5 drops
Lemon 5 drops
Fennel, Sweet 5 drops

Geranium 5 drops
Lemon 5 drops
Rosemary 5 drops

Cellulite Massage

Use one of the formulas below and apply into the cellulite area. Massage for at least 30 minutes. Do not bathe or wash off the formula for several hours. Use 1 - 2oz of carrier oil like Fractionated Coconut Oil or Jojoba to mix the oils before adding to the skin.

Litsea Cubeba 8 drops
Lemon, organic 7 drops
Celery Seed 3 drops
Peru Balsam 2 drops
Lime 5 drops
Cedarwood, Texas 4 drops
Pepper, Black 3 drops
Cypress 8 drops

Cellulite Body Wrap

This is from Greta Breedlove's The Herbal Home Spa.
Grapefruit Essential Oil, 8 drops
Thyme Essential Oil, 2 drops
Sweet Fennel Essential Oil, 2 drops
Tasmanian Lavender Oil 2 drops
Geranium Rose Essential Oil 2 drops
Juniper Berry Essential Oil 2 drops
Almond Oil 2 cups

1. Turn up the heat in the bathroom or bedroom.
2. In a plastic squirt Bottle, combine the essential oils with the almond oil, shaking well.
3. Exfoliate the skin using your preferred method (loofah, silk mitt, dry brush, or ayate or sisal fiber)
4. While standing in the shower or bathtub or on a towl in your bedroom, knead the oil mixture generously into the skin on your arms, legs, and torso, avoiding the face and neck.
5. Encase your legs in cellophane beginning at the toes and working up to the thighs. I have found it easier to apply the cellophane when the whole cellophane roll is cut in half or thirds to 2-inch (5-cm) widths. Wrap
6. Wrap your arms, beginning at the hands and moving up to the upper arms. Complete by wrapping the torso.
7. Relax in a warm room for 20 minutes. You can make the tub as comfy as possible with a pillow for your head, or sit on a comfortable chair or bed that you've covered with a towel.
8. Remove the cellophane wrap from your body; shower first with warm water, then with cooler water.

9. Pat skin dry.


Oils Identified to Help Cellulite

Allspice Cypress Lemon Rosemary
Sweet Basil Sweet Fennel Lime Sage
Bay Fir Needle Lovage Sassafras
Benzoin Geranium Orange, Bergamot Styrax (Storax)
Sweet Birch Grapefruit Orange, Bitter Tangerine
Cassia Bark Juniper Orange, Mandarin Thyme
Celery Seed Laurel Leaf Orange, Sweet  
Cinnamon Leaf Lavandin Oregano  
Cumin Seed Lavender Pine  


Emotional and Abuse Issues
As an emotional therapist, I notice that many people use food to protect themselves from feeling bad or to numb themselves to abuse. They can gain weight to make themselves look undesirable or not available for sexual attention. This leads to feelings of contempt and self loathing. It is very common for victims of abuse to blame themselves for the abuse. Essential oils can bring feelings of self love, forgiveness, and acceptance into the field.

Milli Austin in The Healing Bath did some ground-breaking work in healing abuse with essential oils. She talks of the body not just from the physical but also its energetic aspects. She see the body surrounded by energy fields similar to the atmosphere around the earth. The energy is layered into different energy bodies. The energy body closest to the physical body is called the etheric body. Then there is the astral or emotional body. Next the mental body follows with the soul body encapulating all the bodies. She claims that abuse emotionally and mentally lodges itself into the energy bodies and causes a person to be unable to completely control their life. The abuse takes hold and directs the life in ways the person does not want to go, but seems to be helpless to prevent. As in feeling bad about how your body looks and wanting to look better, but unable to stop eating. With her essential oil therapy, the person would come into contact with what was really causing the bad feelings and clear them with the oils. She also felt that abuse from one life could be felt in another and causes disturbances in this life.

To heal this trauma, she suggests using bath or massage therapy. In her book she included several formulas to help the person clear the abuse. It is a good idea to have a counselor or therapist to consult if you are going to use the oils in this way. The baths also call for more oils than most aromatherapists feel is safe so caution is advised and supervision is required. We will list a few of the formulas and if you are interested in doing them, we suggest you read her book first for more details.

Sexual Abuse Bath
30 drops each citronella essential oil, geranium oil, patchouli essential oil
33 drops each white camphor oil, lime essential oil
40 drops juniper berry
5 cups unprocessed apple cider vinegar
Stone Lapis

Time: 35 minutes
Coat the body with walnut oil
Do 10 baths spaced 7 days apart
If repeating bath series, wait 7 weeks.

Trauma Bath
20 drops wild chamomile (or 16 German or 14 Roman)
30 drops each amyris, white camphor, damiana, vetiver, sassafras
36 drops each eucalyptus 80/85. Lavender
5 cups unprocessed apple cider vinegar
Stone: lapis
Time: 30 minutes
Coat the body with almond oil
Do 10 baths spaced 5 days apart
If repeating bath series, wait 7 weeks.

Unkind, Abusive Treatment - To Relieve Hurt Bath
20 drops cinnamon leaf
25 drops each helichrysum, lemongrass
30 drops each dill weed, lemon eucalyptus, sweet fennel, lavender, peppermint, white thyme
36 drops geranium
7 cups unprocessed apple cider vinegar
Stone: clear quartz crystal
Time: 30 minutes
Coat the body with walnut oil.
Do 15 baths spaced 7 days apart.
If repeating bath series, wait 7 weeks.

Oils identified to help clear abuse and trauma from the energy bodies:

Ajowan* Benzoin Jasmine Rose
Allspice* Cajeput Juniper* Spruce
Bitter Almond* All Cedarwoods Laurel Leaf Tea Tree
Balsam, Copaiba Cinnamon* Linaloe Wood Vetiver
Balsam, Peru* Cumin Seed Neroli Violet Leaf
Balsam, Tolu Cypress Onion** Wintergreen*
Bay Garlic** Parsley Yuzu

* oils are fiery and need to be used with fixed or fatty oils
** oils are not be used without supervision
Pregnant women should not use these oils at all. No one should attempt their own sexual healing without some kind of supervision.

Brain chemistry, Ayurvedic medicine, cellulite control, clearing abuse and trauma from the energy field all give different approaches and different models to support weight loss and weight maintenance. Each modality has something to offer. Some of it may not work for you and all of may work for you. We hope that you will find the information interesting and helpful.


Austin, Milli D., The Healing Bath, Healing Arts Press, 1997.

Breedlove, Greta, The Herbal Home Spa, Storey Books, 1998.

Davis, Patricia, Aromatherapy An A-Z, The C.W. Daniel Company Limited, 1988.

Hirsch, Alan R., M.D., Dr. Hirsch's Guide to Scentsational Weight Loss, Element Books, Inc., 1997.

Miller, Light Dr. and Miller, Bryan, Dr., Ayurveda and Aromatherapy, Lotus, 1995.

Rose, Jeanne, The Aromatherapy Book of Application and Inhalation, North Atlantic Books, 1992.

Prince, Menkit, The Essential Oil Cookbook, Earth Love Enterprises, 1999.