Scents That Suppress Hunger and Appetite
Hunger and appetite can be a hard thing to overcome because there are such a wide variety of triggers: hormones, stress, fatigue, and lack of quality sleep are all potential landmines.
But for emotional eaters trying lose weight, trying to suppress our overactive appetites, or controlling stress related eating, essential oils can be useful part of your emotional eating toolbox. A lot of the research has determined that certain aromas affect the area of the brain that influences satiety, and feelings of fullness.
Multiple studies have shown that essential oils are an effective way of keeping hunger pangs (and pains) at bay. Effectively used, they can help prevent overeating while suppressing appetite, making you feel fuller longer.
Here are just a few of the essential oils I’ve researched.
- Limonene Containing Oils
Grapefruit, it seems, has been associated with weight loss since the beginning of time. In fact, there are whole diets based on them. Osaka University researchers found that exposing rats to the scent of grapefruit oil for 15-minute intervals helped lower their appetite and weight. Researchers believe it may have to do with how the smell (a distinctive, citrus-y fragrance) interacts with liver enzymes. Pink grapefruit essential oil is particularly helpful in decreasing appetite.Lemon, lime, and wild orange oils contain many of the same compounds. And this study, specifically on lemon determined that mice supplemented with lemon polyphenols had significant reduction in their body weight, fat pad accumulation and fat intheir blood. Which may make lemon oil pretty potent at helping you lose weight.
In the same scent “vein”, a 2015 study found that citronella oil naturally suppressed the appetites of individuals on a high-fat diet making them eat less. And a 2015 study found that bergamot helped reduce the elevated heart rate and high cortisol levels associated with stress. This is ideal for those of us who turn to food when anxious or stressed.
According to research done in London, England at St. George’s Hospital, certain scents (specifically vanilla) can reduce cravings and appetite. They conducted a test using an aroma patch that adheres to the skin. They were testing whether the patch worn on the back of the hand would reduce cravings for chocolate, and sweet foods and beverages. Two hundred overweight participants were divided into groups and received either a vanilla, lemon, or unscented patch, or no patch at all. After four weeks, the weight loss in the other groups was a fraction of the weight lost by people wearing the vanilla patches. Catherine Collins, the hospital’s Chief Dietician who led the study, said not only did the participants consume fewer sugary foods and beverages, but they cut their chocolate consumption in half. The participants in the study lost an average of 4.5 pounds simply from wearing the vanilla scented aroma patch.
Cinnamon is often lauded as an excellent essential oil for controlling appetite because it helps maintain healthy blood glucose levels, because when blood sugar levels are under control, cravings for sugar are also reduced. However, my personal experience with this one is that it creates cravings for me of foods that CONTAIN cinnamon – like traditional holiday and fall food items. So be sure to test this one out. =)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
A study from the German Research Center for Food Chemistry (archive.org) found that smelling EVOO may create feelings of fullness. In their study, an aromatic extract was added to yogurt. The participants who consumed it ate fewer calories and had a better blood sugar response than those who were given plain yogurt without the added extracts.
- Green Apple or Banana
A study at the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago determined that inhaling certain scents crushed the desire to eat. Head researcher Hirsch found that overweight people who smelled bananas or green apple when hunger struck lost more weight than those who didn’t.
It promotes feelings of fullness, which lessens the likelihood that you’ll overeat. A 2007 study found that the scent of peppermint impacted the appetite of study participants so significantly that they consumed thousands of calories less than they normally would. A 2008 study found that the menthol in peppermint changes how food smells and tastes, preventing and curbing cravings and overeating. (BONUS!)
According to the West Coast Institute of Aromatherapy, the use of fennel as a appetite suppressant may be traced back to ancient Greece. In animal studies, the aroma of fennel essential oil encouraged the consumption of fewer calories while improving digestion. This helps ensure that more nutrients are taken in.
Patchouli has been used in aromatherapy for years to treat various conditions, such as anxiety or rage issues, and a noted side effect has been its ability to decrease appetite.
When combined with fennel, patchouli may provide more effective appetite control benefits. According to Dr. Axe, when mixed with grapefruit oil it will “lower cravings and hunger, which makes it a great tool to lose weight fast in a healthy way.“
How to use:
Aromatherapy for appetite suppression is generally considered the most effective when you smell the oils for at least five minutes prior to eating.
Essential oils may be rubbed between your hands, so when you cup them together you can slowly inhale the scent. It is also easy to adjust the intensity of the aroma by moving your hands closer or further away from your face.
You can also add the oils to a diffuser to disperse the scent throughout your room.
It is also helps to drink a glass of water after inhaling the oil because the water will increase your feelings of fullness.