[00:00] Introduction/About Dr. Sarah LoBisco
[03:49] How Dr. Sarah Got Started On Essential Oils
[06:35] What Is an Essential Oil
[09:47] How Essential Oils Work Within the Body
[12:21] Best Way To Apply Essential Oils
[16:49] Essential Oils for the Immune System
[25:56] Oils for Sleep and Destressing
[27:53] What’s In the Essential Oil Blends
[30:03] Cognitive Enhancing Essential Oils
[34:03] Essential Oils and Weight Loss
[36:09] Essential Oils and Stretch Marks
[38:14] Essential Oils and Physical Performance
[40:04] Essential Oils and Bowel Movement
[45:17] End of Podcast
Ben: Hey, folks. It’s Ben Greenfield and I’ll try not to gross you out here, but two years ago I got this nasty staph infection, and it exploded into the flesh eating bacteria MRSA. It took over both my arms and legs, it ate this golf ball-sized hole in my right thigh, I’m not kidding here, and I almost lost my left arm. The doctor said if I wouldn’t have identified it or if I would have caught it any later that my arm would have been gone. And I posted the entire nasty story with some pretty shocking photos, I’ll put them in the show notes for this post and I’ll give you the URL in a little bit here. But basically after trying every natural remedy and every topical cream on the face of the planet, I eventually got rid of this entire MRSA thing and healed myself with something called essential oils. Now over the past two years, I went from knowing nothing about essential oils to discovering an entire wealth of knowledge about these natural remedies. And in today’s podcast, you’re going to learn everything you need to know about essential oils for fat loss and performance, for cognitive enhancement, for scar healing, for detoxing, and a lot more.
My guest today is Dr. Sarah LoBisco. And Sarah is a naturopathic physician. She’s licensed in Vermont as an ND, she’s also got a bachelor’s of psychology, and she currently has this private integrative medicine practice where she uses essential oils and holistic medical practices along with conventional medicine quite a bit in her practice. And she has a new book coming out too soon called “BreakFree Medicine”. And Dr. Sarah has help me personally out quite a bit with the essential oils that I’ve chosen to use for myself and for my family. And today, you’re going to learn everything that you need to know but maybe were afraid to ask about essential oils. Now one thing before Sarah and I, or two things actually before Sarah and I delve in. The first is that you can access the show notes for this podcast over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/oils, including the link to that nasty MRSA story that I just described. And the other thing is that the FDA has some new regulations about what people can and can’t say about natural remedies like this. So I’ll make this easy on you Dr. Sarah, but basically if it sounds like Dr. Sarah is being really careful with her wording, there’s a reason for that. It’s based on these new FDA regulations, but we’ll still fill you guys in on everything you need to know. So Dr. Sarah, thanks so much for coming on the call today.
Dr. Sarah: Thanks for having me, Ben. It’s great to be here.
Ben: I want to dig right in with basically essential oils and what they actually are. But before we do that, can you just describe how you got into essential oils. I mean was this something you discovered in naturopathic school, or something you grew up with, or where exactly did you start to use these?
Dr. Sarah: Actually, I was headed towards either pharmacy school or physician assistance school. What ended up happening is I had herniated a disk in my back, L4 and L5, when I was actually in nursing school. So that led me to kind of reevaluate where I wanted to go in my life. And I couldn’t lift anymore and I knew I still wanted to be in medicine or to help people out with healing. And what ended up happening is I was in very much into what they called allopathic method. And my mom, who I thought was absolutely crazy at the time, discovered these essential oils. And she had started using them for hormonal health and noticed an amazing difference. And I had struggled with back pain even before my back went out since I was 16 and nobody could diagnose it. Nobody knew what was going on ’cause I was so young. I wasn’t supposed to have a herniated disk. And I was able to, I did get the surgery, and then after the surgery, even though I was taking, I mean literally probably [0:05:05] ______ bottles of anti-inflammatory drugs and pain medication, my mom introduced me to these essential oils and I found relief from pain for the first time. And I was very hesitant, I had to read the whole desk reference before I would even touch them because, talking to pharmacists, I’m like, “This thing is whack. They’re not approved. What’s going on?” But I think when you experience something for yourself and you know there’s a reason that something happens to you, and that kind of led me to go onto naturopathic school and use this modality that even not a lot of naturopaths use at the current time to help people.
Ben: Yeah. Wow. And I agree that essential oils can be kind of mysterious almost, and they definitely fly under the radar. The first time that I discovered them was with oil of oregano, and I’ve kind of branched out since then, but I mean it’s crazy. Like 100% oil of oregano, I put that on my mouth and it just literally like burnt the insides of my mouth, not to scare people away. But this is some pretty potent stuff. And I want to talk about which ones are safe and which ones you recommend. But before we even do that, what is an essential oil? Like how does all of this plant extract that’s so powerful get shoved into a tiny little dropper bottle that these essential oils come in?
Dr. Sarah: Well, the essential oil itself is the aromatic volatile part of the plant. It’s what’s referred to as the life blood of the plant. So people, like if they’re gardeners or if they’re maybe trimming their plant, what they’ll see is kind of a liquid portion, and that contains all the different constituents of different molecules of the plant. And the way that they’re concentrated is that they’re distilled, usually through steam distillation. There are some other oils that use some other method. But this really makes the essential oils more potent than dried herbs. So for example like one drop of peppermint oil might be equal to 28 cups of peppermint tea as far as potency. And they’re very lipid soluble and their chemistry very similar to our human body chemistry, so they’re able to penetrate our cell membranes, communicate at the cellular level in the DNA. They have kind of this mind of their own. They’re able to go where they need to go to help balance out the body ’cause there’s so many different constituents that are still intact when they distill the oil property.
Ben: Have people been harvesting this stuff from plants for a long time? ‘Cause it’s like one of the things that I think about, a lot of people are like, “Well, supplements are unnatural,” or, “Why would you want to take supplements, or herbs and things of that nature.” But the way that I understand it, like people have been kind of concentrating wild plant extracts in oils from plants I think for a really long time.
Dr. Sarah: Right. There’s actually biblical references to essential oils and they found some frankincense in King Tut’s tomb. They think the Egyptians had some crude distillation method. They found some old distilleries back in Oman for frankincense. So it’s been around for a really long time. They actually said that, from what people are finding, is that the peasants actually were given the herbs, and the kings and queens were the one that the essential oils were reserved for. And then what ended up happening is tons of herbs became more popular. But yeah, essential oil was actually thought to be the first modern medicine, the first mankind’s medicine.
Ben: So I want to delve into the science a little bit. Like we’ve talked about, for example, putting fat in your coffee before on this podcast and how when you mix fat in coffee, it somehow activates oils in the coffee that get carried across your blood-brain barrier so that the terpenes in the coffee can act as cognitive enhancers. And oils work in the body and all sorts of different ways, but when it comes to essential oils, I mean once you actually use an essential oil, what’s happening inside of the body? Or what’s the actual mechanism of action via which the extract of a plant would actually work within the body?
Dr. Sarah: Well, they’re what they call organic compounds. So that means there’s carbon, hydrogen, and then there’s different groups attached to the essential oils. And these are the little signaling molecules that actually induce enzyme processes in our bodies that signal an enzyme to turn on or turn off. And depending on the essential oil, like for example lavender might have 300 different constituents in it and they could be made up of the three most common kinds groupings of these constituents, monoterpenes, sesquiterpene, and phenylpropanoids.
Ben: Okay. So there’s terpenes in these essential oils too.
Dr. Sarah: Right. And so for example sesquiterpene, those are really well-known for oxygenating. They have the capacity, ’cause they’re so small, to cross the blood-brain barrier. So that helps oxygenate your brain. And oils that are high in sesquiterpene are used for focus. Kids use them for help in studying. Monoterpenes, oils that are high in monoterpenes are really good as far as making it hard for bacteria, or fungus, or viruses to thrive in the body. And then a lot of them, like peppermint, is a combination of all three. And that’s why it has so many different effects. They don’t tell people what peppermint does, and they’re like, “There’s no way that one thing can do that much.” But really because of the different constituents that are intact in the oil, it really can. The constituents will kind of go where they need to go.
Ben: Yeah. I’ve used peppermint before as like a… well not only as just like a flavor enhancer, but like it helps to kind of keep you sharp during the day. Like I’ve talked before on the podcast about how I like carbonated water and I put some essential peppermint oil in there with chocolate stevia. It’s kind of like drinking Christmas. Like it can be used, I’ve had some folks use it for like bacterial overgrowth and things of that nature. So, yeah. Peppermint’s crazy. And I definitely want to talk about some of your favorite oils for specific issues, because I know you’ve got some. But other question I have about kind of the logistics of oils is do you use them topically? Do you use them orally? In other ways? Like what’s the best way to actually apply essential oils?
Dr. Sarah: Okay. So I use topically, orally, and I inhale.
Ben: You inhale them?
Dr. Sarah: Right. You can smell them or you can diffuse them.
Ben: Oh. Like an air diffuser? Like a cold air diffuser or something like that?
Dr. Sarah: Exactly. But you have to make sure if you’re using these methods that the oil is pure and there’s no additives or synthetics ’cause they aren’t regulated in the United States.
Ben: Really? You mean if you use it for cold air diffusion or for anything?
Dr. Sarah: Well, I mean you’re going to get the aromatherapy benefits. Because if you’re inhaling, the sense of smell will direct and goes into that emotional part of the limbic region of the brain. So that’s going to cause an emotional impact or a relaxation effect that essential oils are most, probably famous for in the United States. But as far as the constituent in some of the medicinal properties that are in the plant, in order for you to get those all benefits, you need to use an oil that actually went through the process of the plant being taken care of, the distillation done properly, the packaging, and keep making sure that the oil is of high grade. Otherwise, you’re going to lose that effect.
Ben: What’s that mean? High grade?
Dr. Sarah: Right now there’s two basic European standardizations for genuine essential oils, and that’s the FNOR, which is French Normalization Organization, and the ISO Organization, which is the international standard. But you also, you want to check with the company to make sure that they’re also using other methods because they can still spike the standardized constituents that those measures are used against. So for example, like lavender have a specific percentage of different constituents in order for it to be labeled therapeutic. But some companies could just spike it with a synthetic filler to make the linalyl acetate look really high, but it’s not the natural form. So that’s where companies can use optical rotation to tell you if that’s the real, real oil natural or if it’s been tainted. You want to look for if they’re using gas chromatography, heavy metal analysis, microbial flashpoint, refractive index, specific gravity. If basically the company can list a bunch of different test that prove that it standardized and independent, third-party testing, it’s probably a good company.
Ben: Okay. Wow. So basically what you’re saying is not all essential oils are created equal. ‘Cause I’ve gotten a lot of them off of Amazon. Like I’ve done like echinacea and astragalus, I’ve gotten lavender off of there, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re good, huh?
Dr. Sarah: No. ‘Cause they can even say “100% Pure” and they’re only have 5% of the actual oil.
Ben: Wow. Amazing. Amazon is not necessarily the gold standard then.
Dr. Sarah: No. And you know the company that I use, they will actually stop producing some blends if they can’t get to the high constituent therapeutic value of that oil because they will not compromise.
Ben: Which ones do you use?
Dr. Sarah: I use Young Living. Young Living Essential Oils.
Ben: Young Living?
Dr. Sarah: Mhmm.
Ben: Okay. Cool. Got it. Okay I want to dig into some of your recommendations, like the fun stuff here. So can I just like throw some conditions at you, well I got to be careful with my wording, right? But can I throw some uses at you and you can tell me what some of your favorite oils are and how you use them for these?
Dr. Sarah: Sure. Sounds good.
Ben: Okay. Cool. So we talked about like how I had a MRSA, staph infection and I had to work on my immunity, and fighting bacteria, and all that jazz. Like in terms of strengthening the immune system or helping out, like if somebody finds out they have bacteria in their bloodstream, or staph, or something like that, what kind of essential oils do you like for the immune system?
Dr. Sarah: Okay. So to support the immune system, there’s two classes I would really go for. Citrus oils because they’re high in lanolin. So they help the body defend against tumor growth and they’re also calming. So they’re going to have the stress response, which decreases immune response. And they’re high in these constituent called flavonoids and polyphenols, and those actually feed the gut microbiome, which we know that the microbiome, or the belly bugs, is the modulator of the immune system. Like 70 to 80% of your system is in your gut.
Ben: So this would be like a lemon essential oil? Like that type of thing?
Dr. Sarah: Yeah. Exactly. Yeah. So I have a lot of my clients put a drop of lemon in 8 to 16 ounces of water, and they just sip that through the day, and that’s helping their immune system. It’s actually helping cleanse their water ’cause the essential oil will help inactivate any impurities in the water.
Ben: So why wouldn’t you just be able to just to… ’cause I’ve heard lemon peel has oils in it and you can technically, what’s it called when you grate the lemon peel? You know what I’m talking about? I forget the actual name of what it is. But making like a grated lemon peel or eating lemons, doesn’t that give you the lemon essential oil to do something like that?
Dr. Sarah: Well for example, you would be like one kilo of an oil to equal 3,000. So it’s like a 1:3 ratio, 1:3,000 ratio for a lemon.
Ben: One to three thousand.
Dr. Sarah: It’s pretty up there.
Ben: Which is why oregano would burn my lips off if I have a drop of oregano, but I could eat oregano all day long and it wouldn’t do that?
Dr. Sarah: Exactly. ‘Cause when you’re distilling it, you’re concentrating it. It’s separating the actual constituents. So it’s all in that bottle. All the other dry parts the herbs and all that, that’s separated out. So you’re getting a really concentrated, kind of like, we’ll do an alcohol comparison. It’s like really cheap beer versus straight [0:19:11] ______.
Ben: Yeah. Okay. Interesting. So you have to eat a heck of a lot of lemons. So citrus oils, in addition to the lemon citrus oil for the immune system, are there any other citrus oils that you recommend?
Dr. Sarah: Orange is a really good one too. That’s been well-studied for some of its ability to decrease tumor growth.
Ben: So let’s say that you were traveling and you didn’t want to get sick or you want to strengthen your immune system, you’re going to use a lemon oil? You order a lemon oil, you get a bottle of it or whatever, would this be something you put in a cup of water and you drink? Would you like smear it on your lymph nodes? Would you just put it into a cold air diffuser and smell it? How would you use it?
Dr. Sarah: I would do all of those. The only thing with citrus oil you have to be careful of is there is a photosensitivity. So if I was going to be smearing on my skin, I wouldn’t go directly in the sun for 20 to 30 minutes.
Ben: Is that just with lemon or is that with a lot of oils?
Dr. Sarah: That’s for the citrus oils.
Ben: Okay. With citrus oils. Interesting. Okay. So for the immune system, you like citrus oils?
Dr. Sarah: Yes. And then the other ones are kind of like your favorite, Ben. Like oregano, which are high in phenolics or monoterpenoids. So these oils are really good to protect against microbes. And they also how the respiratory system, they help break up some mucus. And you think of any oil that’s really strong or might make your eyes water, those are really good immune modulating oils.
Ben: Now you sent me a little sample packet of these Young Living Essential Oils that you use, and there was one called Thieves. And it looked like it was just, it said it was for immunity. But it was a ton of stuff. Like it was clove, and I think oregano is in there. I don’t remember, but I think lemon was in there. Is this like a shotgun for the immune system? Or how does an oil blend like that actually work?
Dr. Sarah: Yeah. That’s my go-to. That’s clove, cinnamon, rosemary, lemon, and eucalyptus.
Ben: Clove, cinnamon, rosemary, lemon, and eucalyptus?
Dr. Sarah: Exactly. Yeah. So you have all these different, so you think that one oil has 80 to 300 constituents in it, right? So there’s that many molecule. And then when you blend the oils together, there’s synergism where you’re getting all these different molecule so they can hit different receptors in the body and have a more profound effect that kind of, like an additive effect there. And so these oils, specifically like rosemary, an oil that’s been studied for antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, this close, which is also high antioxidant, they also have been studied to help, like I said, inhibit microbial growth. Eucalyptus is great for keeping respiratory, there’s some oxygenating compounds in there. And then there’s lemon, which we talk about. It’s a really good oil to have on hand and I just used it. There actually was a study with toxic mold, oil would be for diffusing where an independent building biologist went in and he had found 10,667 stachybotrys, I can never say that. Stachybotrys mold? You know how to say that? Stachybotrys, whatever. It’s a really bad mold.
Ben: I’m so bad with pronunciations and I get a hard time on the podcast all the time.
Dr. Sarah: I relate to you with that.
Ben: A can barely even do autophagy.
Dr. Sarah: I used to spell things when we used to do around clinic ’cause I couldn’t pronounce it but I could see the word in my head. But anyways, he went in and he diffused after 48 hours. And the concentration went down from 75,000 mold spores, or 10,000 to like after 72 hours of diffusing, we couldn’t find mold spores. And that seemed to last for two to three days. And then my sister and I did an n versus 1 experiment. She has invisible molds in her house and, like [0:23:40] ______ my brother-in-law’s up on the roof, making sure that no more water would tend to come down. And we knew he had mold and we invited the building biologist in there and she was like, “Okay, diffuse. Just keep diffusing, diffusing, diffusing.” And there’s mold, you can see the mold and he could not take it [0:23:59] ______.
So we know how the environment affects our mind and our body, and can deplete our immune system, so I always recommend, Ben, to my client the first thing that they get when they come in is, I’m in upstate New York and it’s really damp and there’s a lot of mold in the area, is Thieve’s to diffuse in the house. ‘Cause I’m like, “No matter what you do on the inside, if you’re living in a house and inhaling toxic mold or toxins, you’re just going to be spending more money on supplements than you need to deal with just living. So we have them diffusing the Thieves and applying it at the bottom of their foot, but I think it’s really important.
Ben: I’ve kind of been using it like oregano. I just doubled up. So what I started doing was before I travel, ’cause I’ve been on airplanes so much lately, is the morning that I travel, I’ve just been putting about 5 to 10 drops of oil of oregano and then about 5 to 10 drops of Thieves in a glass of water and just drinking it. And I do that when I get to where I’m going too. ‘Cause that’s what I like about essential oils is they’re super portable. Like you’ve got these little sample travel packs and all sorts of cool little ways to carry them, which I love. I want to dig into some other things though in addition to the immune system. Like I mentioned, I’ve used lavender before and sometimes I’ll sprinkle lavender essential oil on my pillow. I’ve even rubbed it into the back of my neck. Both of those things seem to really help me sleep. Although I’ve heard that you’re not supposed to drink lavender oil because it somehow messes you up. I don’t know exactly how. Is that true, by the way?
Dr. Sarah: These ones, you can, Ben. The Young Living is okay.
Ben: Okay. So it depends on the lavender.
Dr. Sarah: So it depends on the, yeah.
Ben: So what do you like for sleep? Like is there anything other than lavender that can help sleep or destressing?
Dr. Sarah: Yeah. Lavender’s probably the most well-studied, most backed up research as far as its calming effect. One that’s great for kids is Roman chamomile. That’s really good for calming.
Ben: What’d you call it?
Dr. Sarah: Roman chamomile.
Ben: Roman chamomile. Interesting. I’ve never heard of that.
Dr. Sarah: Yeah. It’s really gentle for little ones. And it also helps, modulates the immune system and it helps calm down any inflammation and stress.
Ben: So you could cold air diffuse something like that in a baby’s room?
Dr. Sarah: Yeah. And there’s a great one-two that’s a combination of citrus oil and blue tansy, which is also really good as far as modulating inflammation. It’s called Peace and Calming. That’s really good for kids. The citrus oils have these esters and aldehydes in them, that’s very calming. So any of the citrus oils can help too and they can help relieve stress.
Ben: This Peace and Calming blend that you just mentioned, I think when you sent me the sample packet, there was like this little roller bottle that you can roll on the back of your neck. Was that the Peace and Calming one?
Dr. Sarah: Oh, yeah. No, that’s Stress Away. That’s a good one too. That’s got vanilla. That’s good for, some studies have shown that that helps to reduce some [0:27:19] ______. Yeah, that’s a good one too.
Ben: Okay. Because I’ve just been going nuts, trying all these things out. So I was rubbing that into my neck along with the lavender oil. And I mean it’s amazing. You hit the sack, like I’m actually, at the time we’re recording this, I’m about to fly out to Ironman Hawaii tomorrow morning and I’m bringing that little roller bottle with the Peace and Calming and the lavender oil just because I know, like the night before the race, it helps so much with sleep. It’s amazing. The Peace and Calming is a blend and this stress oil is a blend. What are the blends in both of those?
Dr. Sarah: What’s in there?
Dr. Sarah: Well, the Peace and Calming is the citrus oil, the orange, I can’t really remember at the top of my head what specific citrus, but there’s blue tansy in there too. And then Stress Away has, I know there’s a little vanilla, copaiba, [0:28:15] ______. I don’t know at the top of my head…
Ben: The vanilla is amazing. I don’t know exactly what’s in it either, but it’s called Stress Away. And by the way, we’ll put links to all this stuff over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/oils if you want to just go to the show notes and dig into the smelly goodness. And vanilla, by the way, that’s an aphrodisiac too.
Dr. Sarah: I actually pulled this up. So yeah, there’s copaiba, which is, basically some of the scientists in essential oils call that [0:28:46] ______ on steroids. And you get really high on this compound that’s anti-inflammatory. Lime is the citrus oil, cedarwood, which is one of your highest oils which is oxygenating and calming, vanilla, like you said, that’s ’cause the taste receptors [29:04] ______, which is good for modulating blood sugars that are healthy in a health range, and then lavender. So that’s a really good one. You get your lavender in the Stress Away.
Ben: Okay. Got it. Cool. Okay. So we’ve got immune system, we’ve got the sleep-slash-stress component. Another thing I wanted to ask you about is smart drugs because there’s all sorts of things like Ciltep, and tianchi, and caffeine-containing compounds, and ThinkBrain, and all of these different smart drugs popping up. What I was curious about though was are there essential oils that can be used for something like cognitive enhancement? Like if I wanted to cold air diffuse something in my office, or I wanted to rub something in the back of my neck or underneath my nose, or put a few drops of something in a glass of water, is there any essential oil that’s been shown to help with cognitive enhancement or that you would recommend for trying for something like that?
Dr. Sarah: Peppermint is the one I found the most studied on. But even like lavender and lemon have been shown, like they did studies with kids taking tests in recall and lavender and peppermint were the highest. Bryan Raudenbush, he in the Wheeling Jesuit University, he’s done a lot of research with peppermint, and that’s been shown to, in a lot of his studies, improve cognitive function, accuracy, help with speed, processing, be calm. They find that if you, say you’re studying and you smell that essential oil, when you take the test, if you smell that same smell, or say you were going to give a presentation or you’re reading over notes the night before, before you give the presentation, you smell that same smell and it actually helps you remember better when you’re kind of on point. So William Denver, also in Cincinnati, studied peppermint’s ability to help with mental accuracy.
But if you figure the way that the oils work and how a lot of them, they have these sesquiterpene and oxygenating compounds, so you’re going to improve the way you think just by inhaling them and decreasing stress and getting oxygen to your brain, calming your system down, modulating inflammation, making you just feel good. There’s this cool study I was reading about, I actually wrote about this in one of my blogs with how rats were actually, their moms were taught to actually fear a smell, rat moms, and when the babies were born, they feared that same smell.
Ben: I heard about this study. It’s nuts.
Dr. Sarah: Yeah! It’s crazy! So the cool thing is though you can use that in a positive way. The effect of a sense of smell in our emotional brain is profound and you can actually, people will actually have to use these smells to calm ’em down in a stressful situation or if they have a memory, a lot of people like the smells and it reminds them of baking and’ll help calm ’em down. And we know stress literally can make you stupid with the effects that it has on the brain.
Dr. Sarah: So I used to test around…
Ben: So peppermint.
Dr. Sarah: Yeah! I used to test around peppermint during boards. Me and my ND students there, they always knew I had the peppermint on. “Can you give us some peppermint before we take our tests?” So I was known as the peppermint housewife there in school.
Ben: Wow. I’m going to actually try, ’cause I always like to stack stuff, but I’m going to see what it’s like if I take something like Ciltep, or tianchi, or one of these other smart drug combos that I’ve got upstairs in my pantry. I want to try a little peppermint oil and see what happens if I combine the two. That’d be really interesting. But that’s also cool to know that you could just, if you didn’t want to take a smart drug or that’s just not something you’re interested in at the time that you can just literally cold air diffuse peppermint oil in your office, for example, to help with cognitive performance. That’s really cool. And that is another thing I’m going to try too.
So the next thing that I’m curious about is I get a lot of questions about fat loss and specifically things like stabilizing insulin, and stabilizing blood sugar, or assisting with metabolism and that type of thing, and I’m curious, this is kind of a twofold question. I’m curious about if there are any essential oils that could be used for something like that. And then as a follow up, a lot of people when they lose weight, they get stretch marks and like a little bit of scarring, and I’m curious if there’s a topical essential oil that could be used for that after you’ve lost the weight.
Dr. Sarah: Okay. So the first part about the fat loss, so there actually have been studies that show that the sense of smell and taste are related. There’s different receptors in your tongue and that are signaling molecules for, say if you’re feeling full. And what they found in research is that actually the bitter tasting herbs, the bitter tasting compounds like in green leafy vegetables actually help you feel more full. So oils, we’re talking about peppermint again, or some of the herbal oils, those will actually, when you taste it, it’ll actually make you feel more full. And then if you smell the oil, that’s actually going to have that emotional component of calming the brain and also affect your appetite. So Allen Hirsch, he’s pretty famous for a study he did with peppermint to trigger weight loss and it was like this six month study with over 3,000 people. And they found that the weight loss exceeded about 30 pounds on average after six months just from inhaling peppermint.
Dr. Sarah: Yeah. And then at the Wheeling Jesuit University again, they also did a six month study and found that people who inhale different scents before meals lost an average of 19 pounds in six months. And peppermint was used again for this one. But they also did some weird smells like banana or vanilla I think. I can’t remember the other one.
Ben: Wow. So peppermint’s a biggie?
Dr. Sarah: Yeah. Peppermint’s been one of my favorite oils. It’s probably why I have a lot of my studies on it. But it’s one that I never, and if we do talk about athletic performance, that one’s got some good studies on athletic performance too.
Ben: Yeah. I want to try and squeeze in a little bit here about athletic performance too. Also what about topical use for something like stretch marks?
Dr. Sarah: Okay. Yeah. Thank you. So that’s actually how essential oils kind of got back into modern day time is from this chemist called Rene Gattefosse. And he actually discovered lavender because he was playing around in his lab and he actually got really badly burned. And he went to get to dip his hand in what he thought was water, but it was actually pure lavender oil. And when he removed his arm, there was no burn. So various, it’s actually still today in the British Pharmacopoeia under treatment of burns. So essential oils are really good for skin health. With cellulite and stretch marks, they can help the body, like I said, with detoxification, they can help with circulation, they can help to clear out lymph, help the immune system, decrease inflammation, modulate all the stuff related to weight control. But you also, as you know, Ben, you got to work the muscle as well with the stretch marks. It’s not just that theory that it’s like a compilation of little toxins. That’s kind of being debunked. So it can probably help with the elasticity, keeping healthy elasticity and oxygenating the skin, which is going to make it appear overall healthier.
Ben: Okay. Cool. What was the name of the oil again?
Dr. Sarah: For?
Ben: For scars and stretch marks? Was there actually one?
Dr. Sarah: Oh, lavender! That’s lavender.
Ben: Okay. So basically you can just use lavender. Wow. The impression I’m getting here is that if you were going to start with essential oils, there’s like a few that you could start with that are going to have a myriad of benefits for a few different things, like lavender, or peppermint, or like this Thieves blend for the immune system. So that kind of makes things easy. What about, and you kind of alluded to this, physical performance?
Dr. Sarah: Yeah. So that’s where peppermint’s done a lot of studies again. They’ve actually, the Journal of The International Society of Sports Nutrition actually released a 2013 study. This is backing on some of the Wheeling Institute 2001 study with Raudenbush. He did a bunch of studies with peppermint for fitness, strength, endurance, and just enhance overall perceived frustration, effort that helped athletes. But this new study actually was a small study with 12 male athletes, and they studied, they used 12 students who consumed one bottle of mineral water which contained a small amount peppermint essential oil for 10 days and they measured blood pressure, heart rate, forced vital capacity, peak expiratory flow rate, and peak inspiratory flow. And they found a significant positive change for all of those measures.
Ben: And how were they using it? How were they using it? Were they diffusing or…
Dr. Sarah: They were just drinking it for 10 days, before and after. And they used a treadmill-based exercise test. So it wasn’t naturally in real life, but it…
Ben: So you could just put a few drops in a glass of water and take that before you go out and do your workout?
Dr. Sarah: Yes.
Ben: Okay. Wow. Cool. I love it. Okay. So I’ve got one other thing that I wanted to ask you about, and that would be detoxing, cleansing, kind of like helping the bowel to move along, like all those little things that people of course love, and we can’t have a podcast where we don’t talk about poop of course. So what type of blends or essential oils work for that? And also, would that be orally or topically? Or how would you use them?
Dr. Sarah: Probably the easiest way to start is kind of what I talked about is putting lemon in your water ’cause you’re getting those constituents that help your immune system in your belly and also help you detox the [0:40:15] ______ . There’s some of these oils that are high in these phenylpropanoid actually have been shown to induce glutathione, which is like a master in anti-oxidants. So the Thieves blend, oregano, clove, those are really high in those constituents. And you can, if you don’t know what to do with an oil, you can always rub that on the bottom of your feet because you’re less likely to get a skin response there. The pores are the largest pores in our body. And because the oils are lipid soluble, they’ll still travel into your bloodstream within about 20 minutes or so. So you can also rub some oils directly on the skin, you can also dilute it with some carrier oils as long as it’s organic because the oil will actually, those little phenylpropanoids can actually clean the receptor sites. Some people might use pure quality essential oils and then they’ll use non-organic care products with it, and the oils will actually cause an interaction ’cause it’s actually trying to stop those chemicals from getting into the cell. So you’d want to use organic, like almond oil, or olive oil, or some sort of carrier oil for people that have sensitive skin. You can drink…
Ben: Okay. Interesting. The oil of oregano that I use, I use that like an almond oil carrier in that one.
Dr. Sarah: Yeah. That’s very high in constituents that can be a little bit toxic to people that have sensitive skin. I’ve been using them for 14 years, so I can pretty much, my body’s pretty used to ’em. But for people that are just starting, they probably want to go slow.
Ben: Yeah. Okay. Interesting. Cool. So as far as rubbing the oils into your feet, would it work better, like say for like sleep when I’m using lavender, would I get better absorption if I rub that into my feet versus my neck?
Dr. Sarah: Not necessarily better absorption, but it would probably be about the same. But if you rub that on your feet, you’re also getting some reflexology points. It’s not conventionally scientific, but that also can be relaxing. I always do both ’cause if you’re rubbing it on the back of your neck, you’re naturally inhaling it, and then rub it on the bottom of your feet, then you’re still getting absorption topically.
Ben: Yeah. That makes sense. Cool. Well this was really fascinating. And like I mentioned, if you’re listening in and you go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/oils, I’ll put a link over to Dr. Sarah’s website in case you happen to be in the upper New York or Vermont area and you want to visit her for a consultation. But I’ll also put a link to the oils that we talked about on the show, like lavender, peppermint, the Thieves blend, this stress and Peace and Calming blend, all of the Young Living brand essential oils if you want to check them out and try some of those out or order a sampler pack of like the lavender, and peppermint, and stuff like that, which it sounds like would be a pretty good blend to start with or a pretty good pack to start with. And if you have questions, you can also leave them over in the comments section, and either Dr. Sarah and I can help point you in the right direction as far as questions about essential oils for specific uses as well.
So Dr. Sarah, thanks so much for coming on today and sharing this stuff with us.
Dr. Sarah: Yeah! Thank you! I listen to your podcast weekly, Ben. You’ve been very helpful. I actually, probably half of my clients have listened to your bone broth podcast as well.
Ben: That’s awesome.
Dr. Sarah: I appreciate you and your science.
Ben: Well now they can inhale peppermint along with drinking their bone broth. And rub lavender into their feet. Cool.
Well again, visit bengreenfieldfitness.com/oils if you want to delve more into this oily, aromatic goodness. And until next time, this is Ben Greenfield and Dr. Sarah LoBisco signing out from bengreenfieldfitness.com.
Two years ago, I got a nasty staph infection.
It exploded into the flesh-eating bacteria MRSA, it took over both my arms and legs, it ate a golf-ball sized hole into my right thigh and I nearly lost my left arm.
After trying every natural remedy and topical creme on the face of the planet, I eventually got rid of the entire thing and healed myself with essential oils.
Over the past two years, I went from knowing nothing about essential oils to discovering an entire wealth of knowledge about these amazing natural remedies, and in today’s podcast episode with Dr. Sarah Lobisco, you’re going to learn everything you need to know about essential oils for fat loss, performance, cognitive enhancement, scar healing, detoxing and more, including:
What exactly an essential oil is and how an essential oil is actually made…
How essential oils work chemically within your body…
The three different ways you can apply and use essential oils…
The best essential oils for your immune system…
The best essential oil blends for stress and sleep…
The best essential oils for fat loss (and for stretch marks too!)…
Amazing ways you can use one essential oil as a smart drug and cognitive performance enhancer…
How essential oils can be used to enhance physical performance…
How essential oils can be used for cleansing and detox…
Why not all essential oils are created equal, why some can do some serious damage to you if you’re not careful, and the exact brand that Dr. Sarah uses…
My guest, Dr. Sarah Lobisco, is a graduate of the University of Bridgeport’s College of Naturopathic Medicine (UBCNM). She is licensed in Vermont as a naturopathic doctor and holds a Bachelor of Psychology from State University of New York at Geneseo. Dr. LoBisco speaks professionally on integrative medical topics, has several journal publications, and is a candidate for postdoctoral certification in functional medicine. She currently has a private integrative medicine consulting practice located in Ballston Spa, New York, where she incorporates her training in holistic medical practices with conventional medicine.
Do you have more questions about essential oil? Leave your comments and feedback below, and click here to peruse the Young Living Essential Oils we discuss in this episode.