My n=1 experiment sniffing essential oils to curb sugar cravings was surprisingly successful, if short-lived. (552 words)
As mentioned in this February 2013 post, my sugar cravings have been extremely resistant to my nutritional-therapy tinkering.
Usually they occurred in the form of a particular ratio of chocolate, fat, and sugar, but occasionally reached batshit levels where I’d eat a pint of ice cream while standing in front of the fridge.
Crushed hopes with 5-HTP and B6
For years, the extent of my success was with two supplements. 5-HTP worked like a miracle for a week, then gave me splitting headaches and insomnia. Vitamin B6 got my cravings down from insanely bad to the usual infuriatingly bad.
A mini-book with some science behind it
Out of curiosity more than hope, I clicked on a Kindle link to Break Sugar Cravings or Addiction, Feel Full, Lose Weight: An Astonishing Essential Oil Method by Kathy Heshelow. In the old days, the print version would have been called a pamphlet. The book took me all of 20 minutes to read, since I skipped the majority of the scientific study references. They seemed reliable and competently chosen and I will not go over them here. Basically the program is a rotation of a selection of essential oils, sniffed three times in each nostril, as many times a day as you can remember at first, and then tapering off as the effect sets in. I started with grapefruit and peppermint.
Sniffing ten times a day
As it turns out, I already had all of the recommended oils at home, because I was for a while a heavy atomizer user. I sniffed about ten times that day. The next day, my sugar jonesing had decreased by about 75% and continued to do so over the next few days, even after I tapered off a bit.
I was then faced with the realization that the dark chocolate filled a lot of calories which I then had to fill with normal food, and at the time I was still reacting to a lot of food with nausea and breathing problems. A few days later, my sleep, which back then was affected by everything, got even worse, so I stopped the experiment.
Second attempt a year later
A year later, many of the food reactions had resolved after increasing my salt intake to a degree that Americans are taught is suicidal, and my sleep had become much more reliable, so I tried the essential oils again. Once again, after one day the cravings were considerably reduced. I didn’t even think about thinking about chocolate. And once again, after several more days the sleep issues returned.
An initial theory about antioxidants
At the time I wondered if the chocolate aspect of the cravings is my body’s request for antioxidants to deal with decades of exposure to enviromental toxins — pesticides from neighboring farms, chlorine from swimming pools, chemical dumping in our neighborhood, moldy domiciles and workplaces, and possibly three homes with lead pipes.
However, several years later I got chocolate out of my diet almost effortlessly by simply switching to non-chocolate sources of sugar. The sugar craving then improved in a major way over the next six months, but I still have a ginger ale and butterscotch morsel habit that is somewhat undignified.
The content on this page was first posted in April 2018 and updated in April 2023.