From the past few years, essential oils have become immensely popular. Many people have started using them in their day-to-day lives. Various brands like doTerra, Young Living, Plant Therapy, and NOW Foods promote these oils for their health benefits. These include anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting, antimicrobial, antioxidant, stress-reducing, and sleep-inducing benefits.
One of the proclaimed beneficial uses of these essential oils is that it helps in reducing weight. Moreover, it is said that it helps in boosting the diet and exercise routine. It might help you reduce food craving, and can give you energy for workouts. But, is it really true?
What are essential oils?
Essential oil is a natural substance extracted from a single plant species by using steam and water. Some manufacturing units use mechanical methods like cold pressing to extract their oils.
As per National Association For Holistic Aromatherapy, ‘essential oil‘ is derived from the original name ‘quintessential oil‘. It refers to extracting spirit from the plant through the process of distillation.
According to many religions, Quintessence, Spirit, or Life Force is the fifth element of the world. These are also known as Akasha or Aether.
Essential oils preserve the aroma and flavor of the plant from which they are extracted. These oils are the natural alternative to medicines as they remain in the purest form. They are also used mainly for aromatherapy and massage therapy.
Benefits of Essential Oils
Essential oils protect the plants from bacteria, fungi, insects. Moreover, it attracts pollinators, and also helps in allelopathy (producing biochemicals by an organism)
In humans, these oils possess the following benefits and properties:
- Stress relief
- Calming effect
- Weight loss
- Digestive health
- Increased focus
- Relief from headache, nausea and different skin conditions
- Reduce muscle soreness and boost athletic performance
Types of oils
- Eucalyptus: Protects from an insect bite, cures cough, asthma and headache.
- Bergamot: Relieves Anxiety.
- Lemongrass: Treats common cold, fever, anxiety, sleeplessness and musculoskeletal pain.
- Tea tree: Treats acne.
- Chamomile: Relax the body.
- Fractionated coconut: Reduce fat.
- Lavender: Contains Anti-inflammatory, Antioxidant, Sedative and Soothing properties.
- Bitter orange: Improves athletic performance, relieves indigestion and more.
- Peppermint: relieves indigestion, headache, sinus issues, menstrual cramps, and indigestion.
Many of you might have a question about whether to consume these essential oils or not. But let me tell you that some essential oils are safe to ingest, and some are not. Some of the factors that decide whether to consume the essential oils or not are potency, quality and personal sensitivity.
Most of the research on ingestion of these essential oils was carried out on animals and not on humans. So there is no real proof of whether these oils should be ingested or not. However, one of the safest methods of taking essential oils is in the form of gelatin capsules or in vegetables.
It also helps in preventing the irritation caused to the intestinal mucosa (the lining that protects the digestive tract). But if you consume essential oils blindly, you might put your safety on the line. Consuming some essential oils can cause severe digestive discomfort and other symptoms.
On the other hand excellent quality essential oils are not harmful. However, you should take them in the suggested way through a capsule or diluted water. But, in the end, you have to decide about the quality of the oils that you have chosen to ingest.
It is also advised not to swallow the essential oils if you are not sure about the contents. Some of the oils contain harmful substances like dilution agents, solvents, or some other additives. It can be unfavorable for your body and can negatively impact you.
It’s always recommended that you personally research your preferred essential oil, as a few with government regulations around them. Also, some of the products claim to be pure but still might contain pesticides. Even some can be distilled using faulty methods.
Safe essential oils to consume
FDA has approved a list of ‘safe essential oils’ which you can consume without any worry. You will just have to dilute it in water or take it within the capsule. Also, the peppermint oil capsule is even believed to lower irritable bowel syndrome symptoms.
Essential oils that shouldn’t be consumed
Oils that might be harmful on ingestion to your health are birch, eucalyptus, arborvitae, wintergreen, cedarwood, cypress and white fur.
Consumption of these oils can cause coughing, gagging, shallow breathing, drowsiness and many other symptoms of toxicity.
If you consume any of these oils mistakenly, you should immediately rinse your mouth and contact the nearest medical centre.
Essential oils that are beneficial for weight loss
More than 90 essential oils are available in the market, but only a few might help you in weight loss. Note that these essential oils are not proven to lose weight directly.
Instead, their distinct qualities can help you reach your weight loss goals.
Benefits of essential oils such as relief from pain, better sleep, improved digestion help, etc, help you lose weight. This way, you achieve a better mood, and high energy levels that might positively impact your weight loss.
To know the real efficacy of these essential oils in humans, more studies need to be conducted. However, we have some promising evidence so far.
- Juniper has properties like antidiabetic, antioxidant and anti-obesity.
- The body weight, lipid profile and insulin resistance in animals have led to positive changes with ginger supplements.
- Garlic has a lot of protective properties like resistance to weight gain. In animal studies, garlic essential oil has protected the mice from obesity, hyperlipidemia, inflammation and many more conditions.
- The digestive process may be improved by lemongrass, peppermint, and other herbs.
- Bergamot and other herbs can reduce stress.
How to use these essential oils?
As mentioned above, directly consuming essential oils might not be appropriate for weight loss. Rather, they can spoil your health. But, topical application and diffusion are some effective ways to gain an ideal weight and other health benefits.
Some of the benefits that help reduce weight can be achieved by topically applying or diffusing the essential oils. For example, using lavender on the skin at night can help you get a good sound sleep. This may give you the energy and motivation for your morning run.
It is also believed that good sleep is related to making better food choices in the day. If you want to apply it topically, then you should dilute the essential oils to prevent skin reactions like redness or burning.
Combining various essential oils for massaging might help in the weight loss process. When both are combined, they can have a significant impact on your range of motion. They positively impact sleep, mood, focus, sleep, and how your body feels. All these are the important elements in your decision to consume nutritious foods and to do exercise.
The Bottom line
The use of essential oils for a healthy lifestyle is a great idea. However, the sole motive shouldn’t be weight loss.
It would be best to focus on other proven methods such as exercise and healthy eating. Meanwhile you should use essential oils as a supplement to help with stress, bad sleep, and other factors.
If you want to use essential oils in your weight loss program, you should first consult your doctor. Consulting health experts will give a better idea of what will suit your body and what is safe for you.