If you’re anything like us, you can’t get enough of essential oils. But it’s not just the smell we love — essential oils have a wide range of health benefits. By using the right blends, you can even whittle your waistline without much effort. We’ve rounded up the best essential oils for weight loss around so you can look — and feel! — your best in the new year. 

How to Use Essential Oils to Lose Weight

The use of essential oils for wellness dates back to ancient Grecian culture: The physician Hypocrites studied plant oils and regularly prescribed them to patients for everything from small wounds to pneumonia. These days, naturopathic physicians still use essential oils to speed the healing of wounds and infections, but they can also be used to shed pounds. As Jorge Cruise, author of The Cruise Control Diet ($16.24, Amazon) explains, “Incorporating essential oils into your daily life can be a delightful way to whittle your waist. … Just make sure you’re using natural oils with no added synthetic compounds.” 

Scientists at the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago found that the scent of certain essential oils can directly affect the brain’s limbic system to reduce appetite and fire up metabolism in seconds. Clary sage, fennel, and anise seed oil in particular have been shown to reduce levels of the belly-fat–promoting stress hormone cortisol by as much as 36 percent!

What’s more, a separate study found that animal subjects exposed daily to grapefruit, peppermint, lemon, and fennel lost 15 percent of their body weight in three weeks without having their calories restricted.

Proponents claim that when gargled or applied topically, i.e. during a massage or dabbed onto pressure points, the perks of essential oils multiply, as compounds are absorbed by the skin and released into the bloodstream, where they can work directly on the body’s cells. 

In a six-week Korean study, women who performed abdominal self-massage daily with a blend of essential oils lost four times more belly fat than women who used an unscented oil.

Experts warn that these oils should be applied or gargled with caution, however, as undiluted oils can burn sensitive skin and mucous membranes. Additionally, some essential oils can be toxic to the liver or kidneys if ingested. 

Says Cruise: “If you’re going to dab or massage the oils into your skin or gargle with them, mix two drops of essential oil into 1⁄2 tsp. of a carrier oil, such as jojoba oil ($9.99, Amazon) to prevent injury. And don’t swallow oils unless directed by a certified aromatherapist or physician.”

What are the best essential oils for weight loss? 

Ready to inhale and massage your way to weight loss success? You’ve come to the right place. From metabolism-boosting grapefruit to belly fat-blasting clary sage, we’ve found all the best picks to fast-track your progress. Keep scrolling to learn more about the best essential oils for weight loss.  

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Clary Sage Oil

Weight isn’t solely about our food intake — it’s also linked to our state of mind. Per a 2013 study from the Global Journal of Medical Research, sage can protect your body against oxidative stress, which in turn can lead to weight conditions such as obesity and diabetes. Try Aphrosmile’s clary sage ($7.68, Amazon) for a 100 percent pure solution. 


Fennel Seed Oil 

Fennel seeds, or saunf, have the power to make you feel fuller, more satisfied, and less hungry. In a study of 18 obese people by researchers at the University of Minnesota, those that ingested eight grams of fenugreek fibre powder ate 10 percent fewer calories for lunch. This safe-to-ingest oil from Fongle ($14.95, Amazon) is GMO-, preservative-, paraben-, pesticide-, and cruelty-, and gluten-free. 


Anise Star Oil 

Anise star oil ($11.99, Amazon), which contains manganese (a mineral and antioxidant that boosts metabolism), has been cited as one of nature’s best fat-burners, as it aids in digestion and kickstarts the conversion of our food to energy. It can also help to regulate blood sugar, as seen in a 45-day study from 2015 of diabetic rats.


Grapefruit Oil

According to a 2005 study found in Neuroscience Letters, inhaling the scent of grapefruit oil ($11.99, Amazon) just three times a week can reduce your food intake, and consequently, your body weight — or at least, those were the findings presented in the aforementioned study of animal subjects. What’s more, grapefruit is known to be motivating and refreshing, making a pure bottle, like this one from Humco, ideal for sniffing just before a workout. 


Peppermint Oil 

While scientists are still researching the benefits of peppermint oil, like Majestic Pure’s non-toxic, 100 percent natural version ($17.98, Amazon), for weight loss, a small study of 13 healthy adults published in a 2014 study printed in the journal of Neurogastroenterology & Motility showed that the ingestion of peppermint oil capsule reduced appetite. 

One year prior, a separate study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition showed increased exercise performance in athletes after they ingested peppermint oil infused with water, as it boosted their ventilation and brain oxygen concentration.


Lemon Oil 

Eat Dirt ($13.99, Amazon) author Josh Axe, DNM, CNS, DC, told Reader’s Digest that lemon oil (like Eve Hansen’s cruelty-free, vegan blend ($19.98, Amazon) is beneficial for cleansing the body, which in turn can aid with fat digestion. “Lemon essential oil supports detoxification, helping to cleanse toxins that build up inside the body,” he explained. “Detoxing will rejuvenate your body, increase your energy levels and improve fat digestion.”


Ginger Oil

Axe also revealed to Reader’s Digest that ginger oil, like this certified organic pick from Nature’s Oil ($12.57, Amazon), is tops for weight loss, thanks for its ability to ease sugar cravings, support digestion, and reduce inflammation. “Ginger oil also serves as a thermogenic agent, which means that it can help to burn fat and boost your metabolism,” he said. Sounds good to us! 

This story originally appeared in our print magazine.

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