6 Essential Oils That Will Curb Cravings, Relieve GI Woes, Fight Fatty Liver, and More
Medicine doesn’t always have to be the cure! Sometimes simple things like supplements and diet changes can make a big difference when it comes to our health. We’re big fans of using essential oils as natural remedies for everything from easing aches to boosting hair growth. Take a look below for some of the best health benefits of essential oils.
Lemon shuts down cravings.
From Halloween candies to Thanksgiving pies to Christmas cookies, we’re officially in the season of delightful temptations — and three times more likely to gain weight than in the summer. The easiest way to resist? Brushing your teeth with lemon essential oil. It’ll curb a craving in 30 seconds, and for up to two hours per brush. British scientists say aromatic compounds in lemon oil (limonene and myrcene) calm the hypothalamus, the brain’s hunger control center. Put three drops of lemon oil on your toothbrush (add a dab of toothpaste, if you wish) and gently brush your teeth, gums and tongue.
Birch oil eases aches and pains.
If chilly weather and more sitting around inside have left you feeling stiff and sore, birch oil can help. The active ingredient in this aromatic oil (betulinic acid) is a powerful natural anti-inflammatory, and Spanish researchers say it can cut pain and swelling by as much as 65 percent if you massage it into tender spots for two minutes twice daily. Mix 25 drops of birch essential oil into four tbs. of a carrier oil, such as corn or sunflower; store leftovers in an airtight container between uses.
Bergamot cures tiredness.
As the days get shorter, up to 66 percent of us feel more foggy and sluggish. Thankfully, a study in Phytotherapy Research suggests inhaling the citrusy aroma of bergamot essential oil sharpens focus, boosts concentration and chases away fatigue in just five minutes. Study authors credit its volatile oils with prompting your brain to release energizing beta waves. For a morning boost, put a few drops of the oil on a washcloth and leave it on the floor of the shower—or keep a vial of bergamot oil in your purse and take slow, deep sniffs when you need a little pep.
Sandalwood boosts thick hair growth.
Gently massaging sandalwood essential oil into your scalp daily prompts hair follicles to produce 30 percent more growth hormones, keeping them in their active phase for longer and prompting growth of thicker, healthier hair, reveals research published in the journal Nature Communications. Just mix four drops of the oil into a dollop of your favorite shampoo before washing.
Peppermint soothes holiday GI woes.
Holiday stress and rich foods can trigger constipation and diarrhea. But a Johns Hopkins University study review found that patients with irritable bowel who took two peppermint oil capsules daily halved their risk of digestive troubles and were 78 percent more likely to sail through holidays painfree. Michelle Schoffro Cook, Ph.D., author of Pain Erasers, says the oil’s active ingredients soothe the GI tract, prevent inflammation and spasms and encourage digestive enzyme release.
Cumin seed oil fights fatty liver.
A liver clogged with fat puts the whole body in slow motion. The good news: A new study in Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy suggests a compound in cumin seed essential oil (cuminaldehyde) blocks fat buildup in the organ to control blood glucose as effectively as low-fat diets, cut cholesterol and triglyceride levels by 25 percent and halve the risk of weight gain. Add one drop of cumin essential oil or 1⁄2 tsp. of the spice to your daily diet.
They’re more than just great smells! Next time you’re not feeling your best, reach for the right essential oil for the best health benefits.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.