I am often asked by my clients whether there are any essential oils that can help with weight loss. Grapefruit essential oil is recommended by aromatherapists for obesity, cellulite, water retention and accumulation of toxins due to its ability to stimulate the lymphatic system. But is there actually any evidence to support its potential as a weight loss intervention?
A study(1) was carried out in Korea to establish the effect of aromatherapy massage on abdominal fat and body image in post-menopausal women.
Participants in the experimental group and a control group all received a one hour full body massage by the same researcher every week for 6 weeks. Participants also massaged their own abdomen two times everyday for 5 days each week for 6 weeks. The two groups used different kinds of oil. The experimental group used a blend of essential oils including grapefruit and cypress. The control group used grapeseed oil and no essential oils.
The results showed that abdominal subcutaneous fat and waist circumference in the experimental group significantly decreased after aromatherapy massage compared to the control group. Body image in the experimental group was also significantly better after aromatherapy massage than in the control group.
Whilst this study looked specifically at post-menopausal women, there is no reason why essential oils such as grapefruit and cypress would not have the same effects in other women, or men. A weekly aromatherapy massage, combined with self-massage at home using the same oil blend, could be used as an effective intervention to reduce abdominal subcutaneous fat, waist circumference, and to improve body image.
(1) Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi. 2007 Jun;37(4):603-12. Effect of aromatherapy massage on abdominal fat and body image in post-menopausal women.