Are essential oils effective for boosting mood and managing cravings?

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Essential oils have been used for hundreds of years in natural healing. The efficacy of these oils is being studied more often now to really quantify the use and provide data to serve as a guide, which is very exciting.

Here are a few simple ways to use essential oils to boost your mood and stop cravings. I have long been fascinated with essential oils and I am now taking some time to really learn about their healing properties and functional use on a daily basis.

Listening to a podcast from the Dr. Taz Show peaked my curiosity so I looked further into the research. There are studies out there that look very promising but as usual more research is indicated to determine what truly works. Check out this study if you want some hard core information on lavender, one of oils we will talk about for mood. Many promising applications for essential lavender oil were noted including: mood, sleep, pain, memory… the key is finding a pure, clean product to use. I am no expert on this but Young Living essential oils have a great reputation and several functional medicine physician’s I trust and respect use them exclusively.

Our next essential oil is peppermint. This has been shown to help with sugar cravings!! Who doesn’t have that in our sugar laden society (there is even sugar added to tea’s these days without our knowing it).

Dr. Alan Hirsch, a neurologist, tells us that our sense of smell and appetite are closely related. “More than 90% of taste is smell,” he says. If you love the smell of hot coffee in the morning, or start to salivate when you walk past a restaurant the connection is obvious.

He conducted a study involving 3,193 overweight volunteers. Each participant was given an inhalant containing various herb and fruit scents. They were told to inhale three times into each nostril when they felt hungry. Hirsch explains, “The more people used the device, the more weight they lost.”

Over a six-month period, the participants didn’t diet. They ate 2-4 meals per day and lost an average of almost five pounds each month. Some participants lost up to 18 pounds per month. The research needs to be more specific, controlled and peer reviewed than this but here is some food for thought…read this study from the NIH (National Institute of Health). Particularly when the scent was “fresh” rather than “sweet” the cravings were mitigated.

The bottom line is maybe these essential oils can help with cravings and mood, it’s worth a try. Keep in mind that you will be doing this in moderation, it won’t work for everyone and certainly if you have an allergy or sensitivity to any of these scents it might not be the trick for you. It is essentially important to find high quality oils that are organic without added chemicals, not all oils are the same.

It is also important to point out that artificial scents in things like candles and room sprays are likely not as safe and should be avoided. Here is an article that gives more information and highlights some safer alternatives.

Here are a few examples of the types of products to be more diligent about checking ingredients:

Candles and scented melting wax

  • Carpet and furniture deodorizers

  • Room deodorizers and sprays

  • Detergents, soaps, and scrubbing products

  • Cleaning and polishing products

  • Perfumes, colognes, and body sprays

  • Dryer sheets and scented laundry products

  • Shampoos, conditioners and hair products

  • Lotions, skin care, and beauty products

  • Nail polish, remover, and artificial nail products

  • Paints, solvents, lacquers, refinishing products

  • Herbicides/Pesticides, plant sprays, plant powders 

Stay tuned for an upcoming post on personal care products and household products.

But now…here are the combinations that you can try to boost your mood and manage food and sugar cravings!

You can purchase little glass ball roller containers to add your oils to so they are portable and can be with you daily.

Mood booster - 2-3 drops of lavender, 2-3 drops bergamot essential oil in either a diffuser or roller (for portability) with almond oil or coconut oil 1-2 Tb. Use the roller to apply to your wrist or hand and take a few sniffs. Most importantly with any essential oil is that it needs to be diluted with the carrier oil. It can be too strong to put directly onto your skin so be aware. Read this article for more information on safety

Sugar Craving oil blend: 10 drops peppermint oil, 10 drops grapefruit oil, 5 drops lemon oil and 3-4 Tb almond or coconut oil . The lemon and grapefruit also boost energy and clear brain fog so it’s a three for one!

Here’s another tidbit that is important to know… the average craving lasts about 3 minutes. If you can do something to redirect yourself from the craving, such as essential oil blend or another task you will be more successful.

As with all information here on my website it should not be a substitute for medical care, these are not recommendations for any illness that should be treated by a physician. Within functional medicine we look for root cause, these are nice little hacks but if you are having a consistent weight problem or mood changes that are concerning your first option should be to find a functional medicine physician to look deeper into the root cause.

Otherwise have fun trying these essential oil blends. I personally feel like the peppermint trick has helped me!