Essential oils for weight loss


Nagina Abdullah


May 27, 2019

Essential Oil for weight loss - Feature

Can essential oils help you lose weight? Today, we look at the research behind using essential oils for weight loss.

What are essential oils? They’re oils extracted from specific plants that capture their scent and flavor. This is done by cold pressing or distillation. [1]

Essential oils have been used for thousands of years. The reason essential oils might be able to help you lose weight is that they help you relax and unwind, which are important parts of losing weight. Plus, they can also help to curb your hunger, your cravings for sugar and other foods, and they can even add a little boost to your metabolism.

There is no clear research to prove the health benefits of essential oils. However, certain essential oils have been shown to have some beneficial properties for weight loss and health.

In this post, I’ll share my favorite essential oils for weight loss and why they work in different ways to reduce weight and boost energy.

I’ll divulge:

  • Essential oils 101: What essential oils are, what form they come in, and where you can find them
  • 5 essential oils for weight loss you should add to your shopping list
  • Different ways you can use essential oils – from diffusing, to applying to the skin, or adding to drinks

Get more solutions for managing stress, eating your feelings, and moving the stubborn scale in these posts.

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Essential oils for weight loss

These special oils usually come in small dark brown glass bottles about the size of one to three ounces. Usually, there is a drip stopper at the top of the bottle to make sure you don’t pour out more than one or two drops at a time.

This is because essential oils are highly concentrated and powerful. You won’t need more than that! You can find them at health stores, Whole Foods, and online.

There are lots of different ways to use essential oils. One popular use is to release their essence into the air with a simple diffuser like one using a tea candle, electricity, ultrasonics, or mists and sprays. You can also add a dab or two to your skin like perfume, add a drop or two into smoothies, coffee or tea, or just sniff the bottle with the cap off for a boost.

Note that not all essential oils should be consumed. The FDA lists those essential oils that are safe and those that aren’t. [2]

I’ll tell you specific ways to use each oil. Let’s talk about my top five essential oils for weight loss and how they help.

Peppermint essential oil

According to one study, peppermint oil was successfully used for weight loss. Study participants smelled peppermint oil every two hours. As a result, they felt less hungry and consumed about 300 fewer calories every day.

You can diffuse, wear as perfume, or add a drop to your water, tea, or smoothie for a minty burst of resolve to resist sweet food.

Grapefruit essential oil

Research shows that the scent of grapefruit essential oil can reduce cravings. For example, one study showed that rats experienced a reduced appetite and body weight when they were exposed to the scent of grapefruit essential oil for 15 minutes 3 times a week. Another study shows that the scent increased activity in the gastric vagal nerve in rodents. This helps stimulate the production of stomach juices, which are needed for digestion. [4, 5]

It’s a good one to diffuse or add to water or tea. You can add a dab to your wrist if you like, but not if you’ll be out in the sun for long because it can be “phototoxic.” This means it could cause irritation, reddening and even blistering of the skin if the area with oil is exposed to the sun for too long. [6]

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Lemon essential oil

Love this one. It boosts the neurological function that helps break body fat down, lifts your mood, and tastes great! In fact, research shows that lemon essential oils affect your autonomic nervous system and the nerves running through fat tissue. Animal studies have shown that lemon essential oils helped increase fat loss and decrease body weight. [7, 8]

I recommend diffusing, sniffing from the jar, or adding to your water for a lemony lift.

Cinnamon essential oil

I’m a big fan of cinnamon in general. Read about the Health Benefits of Cinnamon for Weight Loss & More (Ceylon vs Cassia) here. Cinnamon essential oil is another great way to enjoy the reduction in blood sugar levels and sugar craving suppression of this sweet spice. [9]

Add a drop to your morning coffee, afternoon tea, or your favorite smoothies. It’s another good one to have in your purse so you can sniff from the bottle, or diffuse it at your desk.

Ginger essential oil

Ginger essential oil reduces sugar cravings and inflammation in the body. Get more info on Why an anti-inflammatory diet is BEST for longevity, weight loss + disease prevention.

A study found that high doses of ginger extract prevented increases in weight. [10]

It makes a great addition to sparkling water, tea, coffee, or smoothies.

Spices are another amazing tool for burning stubborn fat and boosting metabolism (and food flavor). Get 12 Spices to Melt You Away and How to Use Them in this FREE PDF!

How essential oils for weight loss affect your mind and body

Our sense of smell is closely linked to certain parts of your brain called the hippocampus and the amygdala. These are in control of memory and emotion. [11]

Memory and emotion are often underlying triggers for why we crave certain foods. We crave comfort or familiarity.

If you think about it, you might realize that some of the foods you crave the most are foods linked back to a happy memory or time in your life. Or simply the comfort and satisfaction of “comfort foods” full of fat and sugar bring us back to happier days.

For example, maybe you love lemon bars because your grandma used to make them. Using essential lemon oil in your water or diffusing it at your desk is a healthier way to indulge this emotional link.

Whether they’re directly related to a past memory or not, some essential oils, like the ones we’ve talked about, tap into this sense of comfort and override the impulse to desire sugary foods as well as reduce stress, and help us sleep better. Both of which can play a pivotal role in fat burning. [12]

You can read more about how important they both are for weight loss here: Sleep and weight loss: quality Zs for maximum fat-burning and How to lose stress weight.

How to mix and use essential oils for weight loss

Here are some great suggestions for how to put your new-found weight loss superpower to work.

Dr. Mariza, a wellness author who wrote an essential oils book, recommends mixing wild orange and peppermint oil to diffuse during your workout for a fat-busting, amped up session. [13]

Applying grapefruit oil topically to your skin has actually been shown to boost fat burning in that specific area. One study showed women who used grapefruit oil on the abdomen saw more fat reduction there than those in the control group. [14]

But remember to limit your time in the sun if you use grapefruit oil topically so it doesn’t irritate your skin.

Here are some smoothie recipes for adding essential oils for weight loss to, and more snack ideas to tide you over so you don’t cave into the candy bowl!

6 low sugar smoothies to start your day

10 ways to eat healthy without cooking

What to eat at night to lose weight

As I mentioned in specific examples above, try adding one to two drops of peppermint, grapefruit, or lemon oil to your water or morning smoothie for flavor and weight loss boost.

For more metabolism and yummy solutions to weight loss, grab your FREE copy of my PDF 12 Spices to Melt you Away and How to Use Them here!

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Nagina Sethi Abdullah, BA, MBA

Nagina Abdullah is a health coach for middle-aged women and professionals. She coaches women to boost their metabolism naturally, shed pounds and keep them off. Her work with weight loss clients led to the creation of Masala Body, an online weight loss platform that provides an easy and accessible system that helps women sustainably lose weight. She has helped over 1200 women successfully lose from 10-80 lbs and create a sustainable lifestyle change. Nagina earned her degree in Molecular and Cell Biology from UC Berkeley.

Reader Interactions


  1. Gaz says

    Hi Nagina, as a student of Aromatherapy, I’d just like to bring to your readers’ attention that essential oils contain concentrated amounts of the properties of the plants they’re derived from and are therefore not to be taken lightly. Some of the molecules present can be toxic if taken excessively, especially peppermint oil. Therefore it is best to exercise caution and to avoid when pregnant, on children under 8 years of age and around animals.

    • Avatar photoNagina says

      Thank you Gaz! Your caution is very needed. What a great field you are in.

  2. Courtney says

    Are you only supposed to add one oil at a time to your tea? Or can I add a drop of each to my tea mug? Thanks!

    • Avatar photoNagina says

      Hey Courtney! Since essential oils are so powerful, one drop at a time would be sufficient, best not to put them all in one cup at a time! 🙂

  3. Michelle G says

    You can make a mix (synergy) of the EOs you want to use, then add one drop of that to a smoothie with plenty of healthy fats (organic, grassfed, unrefined,cold pressed: coconut oil, avocado oil, nut butter, avocado, butter) in it.

    Remember to use EOs with great caution internally – due to the nature of ingesting them, you won’t feel any damage until it’s too late.

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