I Tried It: A Natural Remedy That's Supposed to Stop Cravings

I shamelessly consider myself a serial snacker. Salty, sweet—you name it, I'll eat it. I've been trying to be better about my snacking habits lately, but when I have an office kitchen that's regularly stocked with goodies and a grocery store right underneath my apartment building, snacks are unfortunately a little too accessible. Couple that with the fact that I'm sitting for a large portion of the day not being physically active, and I've got a problem on my hands. I need a snacking intervention.

Recently, when the founder of 21 Drops—a line of essential oils—met with me and introduced me to her Abstain oil (£21) for curbing cravings, my ears perked up. She explained that rubbing the grapefruit-scented oil on your wrists, temples, and underneath your nose and inhaling deeply is actually scientifically proven to curb your appetite. The key is that smelling grapefruit oil slows the parasympathetic gastric nerve, which stimulates the ghrelin-induced feeding (the body’s natural response of having food cravings). It seemed a little too good to be true, but I love experimenting, so placed one roller ball of oil in my purse and one on my desk and agreed to give it a shot.

Below is a snapshot of how the oil worked for me on a particular day during my week-long trial.

The first morning, I ate breakfast (usually a soy iced coffee, fruit, and some form of pastry) and settled into work. Breakfast normally tides me over for a few hours, so I'm set without feeling a snack urge come on. 

By this point, I felt the need to go into the kitchen and grab something to munch on (I'm sure it was just the placebo of feeling like I was hungry because I knew I couldn't snack), so I rolled the oil onto my wrists, temples, and just below my nose. I felt like I needed to be a bit heavy-handed with the oil to really get a good odor going, but I really enjoyed taking the time to cup my hands and inhale the citrusy scent. It was almost a bit therapeutic, a welcomed form of relaxation during a busy day. 

I had a light lunch because of my packed schedule and quickly chowed down so I could get back to business. I had a small portion of a chicken, egg, avocado, and bacon salad (yum!) and felt satiated going into the rest of the afternoon and evening. Easy peasy—I can do this!

OK, my stomach is growling. I had such an urge to go grab some fruit snacks from the kitchen that I hurriedly rolled on the oil and inhaled it like it was some kind of vice. Needless to say, within just five minutes the stomach growling and noticeable hunger was gone. Was it all placebo? Maybe, but I liked that it was working in the interim.

Must. Get. Snacks. I heard the sound of wrappers crinkling and food being munched on around me, taunting me and egging me on. Ooh, eggs, that sounds delicious. Again, I rolled a generous amount of oil on my skin and inhaled. And again the hunger pangs went away. What? This is trippy.

Alright guys, I cheated. I had some fruit snacks. I couldn't take it. The void in my stomach was so big I started to feel light-headed. This could very well be due in part to the fact that my lunch was small and my body just needed to be fortified with food—and the fact that I was feeling faint from being so hungry didn't seem safe. At least the snacks were made with real fruit?


I ate Chinese food for dinner (I know—not the healthiest of choices) and didn't feel the urge to snack for the rest of the night. Evenings are my biggest snack time (even more so than when I'm at the office), so I'm happy the oil worked for me during my most tempting time.

I continued using the oil for a week and found very similar results every day; the oil curbed my cravings for a few hours at work, but eventually my body just needed to have something in my stomach by mid-afternoon. I tried to make healthier snack choices like fruit and nuts, so I was proud of myself for not reaching for the sweets, crisps, or cookies. All in all, I found that telling myself that I couldn't snack in conjunction with physically applying something on my skin—like a distraction—when the hunger came on was a successful tactic. Was the oil itself to thank for my decrease in cravings? I'm not sure—but if rolling on a delicious smelling oil tricked my mind into thinking that I could withstand another hour without reaching for a snack, I'd call it a worthy tool.

21 Drops ships to the UK but you may have to pay customs. Want to try this trick soon? Miaroma Grapefruit Pure Essential Oil (£5) is available from Holland & Barrett.

What tricks do you use to curb cravings? Plase share with us in the comments!