SlimDown With Scents


     Does the smell of fresh-baked cookies make you hungry? Does the fragrance of lavender make you feel relaxed? Does pine scent take you back to playing in the woods with friends as a child or gathering with family around the christmas tree? Our sense of smell is a powerful thing. I have been told that of our 5 senses, smell is the most likely to quickly bring back a memory or evoke strong emotion and I believe it. I have often been transported back in time by a whiff of baby powder or cedar.

     I love fragrance. I enjoy burning scented candles, have airfreshners in almost every room of my house, and am easily swayed to purchase everything from aromatic herbal pillows to scented magic markers. Who doesn’t enjoy a pleasing aroma?

     I have some good news for those of you who are “fragrance fiends” like me. Your sense of smell may also be able to help you lose weight. Today I want to briefly discuss the use of aromatherapy for weigh loss.

     Aromatherapy, in short, is the practice of using fragrant essential oils and other natural aromatic compounds to promote healing and health. This is a fascinating topic. I feel sure I could blog about it everyday for a year without running out of applications to investigate; so please know that the information I am providing is by no means exhaustive. We are going to get just a glimpse of how aromatherapy can be used to aid us in our weight loss efforts.

One of my favorite scented treasures is an herbal neck pillow that our family received as a gift from Tony's very thoughtful sister. It is full of aromatic herbs and can be microwaved to provide warmth to neck and shoulders. I enjoy using it at bedtime to make me sleepy or the next day after a workout if I'm sore. Sometimes I wear it just to feel cozy and warm. I don't know where ours was purchased, but the one above is listed at

     A while back I had an appointment with a nutritionist to see how changes in my eating habits might affect some health problems I was struggling with. This nutritionist, who was studying to become a practitioner of aromatherapy, also made some great suggestions about adding the use of essential oils to my daily routines. I believe this helped both directly and indirectly in my weight loss efforts. Aromatherapy can help with weight loss in two major ways. First, it can help suppress appetite – thus helping directly. Second, it can be used to address underlying issues that contribute to our weight gain such as stress, anxiety and depression – helping indirectly.

     I began to use lavender to help me sleep and to lower my stress levels. Sleeping better improves the metabolism thus promoting weight loss. I began to use a citrus combination to help increase energy, thus making it easier to work out with gusto. Peppermint and grapefruit were added for appetite control, making me feel less hungry. Less Hungry? How does that work?

     Have you ever noticed when you do the cooking you are less hungry by meal time than if you simply sat down to a meal someone else has prepared? This is true even if you’re not nibbling as you go. One theory behind how essential oils help with appetite control goes right along with what you noticed here. Research indicates that our sense of smell and our appetite are very much connected. Not only can aromas make us hungry but they can also help us feel full. The idea is that if we smell something just a little, like the fresh-baked cookies as we walk past the stand in the mall, it makes us feel hungry. However, if we smell certain pleasing aroma for long enough we begin to feel satisfied by the aroma. Since fragrance is a part of the taste experience, this theory suggests that we can derive enough pleasure through the scent to need far less of the actual taste to feel satisfied.

     At it’s explained like this “When you inhale an essential oil, its microscopic molecules directly affect a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. An area inside the hypothalamus called the “satiety center”controls feelings of hunger/fullness.The satiety center ‘reads’ certain essential oil molecules as a signal that you are full. And the good news is, this happens much faster than your brain gets the signals from your stomach telling you you’re full – so you feel full sooner!”

     There are several different oils that I have seen recommended for appetite control. I have personally used grapefruit and peppermint oil. I like these because they can also be used before workouts to help increase energy. In addition I am told vanilla, dill, clary sage, ginger, cumin, fennel, lemon, patchouli, sandalwood, spearmint, bergamot and ylang ylang work well for appetite suppression.

     How do you use these scents once you have them? They can be sniffed by themselves or in combinations. They can be whiffed directly from the bottler or you can use an aromatherapy inhaler or diffuser. I keep it simple, being pretty much a novice. I use one fragrance at a time and I sniff directly from the bottle. I was taught to inhale deeply 3 times in each nostril really taking in the scent. In order to make sure you suppress not stimulate your appetite you want to make sure and repeat the aromatherapy inhalation several times over a 5 minute period. Less can be counter productive. Enjoy aromas before meals, whenever hungry, or when you have specific cravings that are hard to say no to. You can use a single scent, scent combinations, or alternate scents within this 5 minute period. Keep scents available. Carry scents with you and/or keep them handy in places where you are likely to use them like at your desk at work, in your car, and in the kitchen.

     I’m sure the science behind aroma therapy would really stress using these natural oils and I do but I’m not a purist. I love to shower with energizing citrus scrubs in the morning or bathe in warm lavender bubbles at night. I also burn scented candles in energizing fragrances like lemonade during the day and relaxing fragrances like ylang ylang at night.  I love to surround myself with pleasant scents. They just make me happy!

     Take some time today to research aromatherapy on the web. Have fun looking at the different scents and their reccomended uses. Consider ordering a few or picking a couple up at a local health food store, like Annie Kay’s in Blacksburg. (Sandee picks up a vial and inhales) “Mmmmmm…..Peppermint…..that smells gooood!”

On my personal aromatherapy wish list - apothecary necklace and/or ring which can be used to carry my scents with me. How cool, mysterious, and Midevil.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. slimdownwithsandee
    Jan 26, 2012 @ 10:24:07

    Found this additional little reccomendation for using your “energizing oils” at and thought I would share – “To perk up the atmosphere of your home or enliven the air -, try using an aromatherapy room spray. This alcohol-based blend is easy to make and is a great replacement for store-bought air fresheners. To make it, you will need thirty drops of your favorite blend of essential oils, twelve ounces of bottled water, and a tablespoon of vodka. Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle, cap, shake well, and use. Keep a bottle at work, in the car, or anywhere else where you spend a lot of time.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: