PREGNANCY AND ESSENTIAL OILS SAFETY
- 1 February 2018
Jane Buckle, RN (Buckle, 2015) states;
“There are no records of abnormal fetuses or aborted fetuses as a result of the normal use of essential oils, either by inhalation or by topical application.”
When discussing pregnancy and essential oils safety we should put aside a small group of essential oils which should never be used during that time. Once those oils are carefully avoided, essential oils can be used safely to maintain and improve the general health of future mother. Battaglia shares this insight: “the judicious use of essential oils together with appropriate forms of massage by a skilled therapist can help ease the discomforts of pregnancy and provide a sense of nurturing that will comfort the mother at times she is likely to be feeling rather fragile.” Explore essential oils to avoid throughout Pregnancy, Labor, and while Breastfeeding.
NAHA concurs with the IFPA Pregnancy Guidelines.
ESSENTIAL OILS SAFETY RULES DURING PREGNANCY
Once you are pregnant, avoid using essential oils for massage or in a bath until after 1st trimester.
Use ONLY essential oils recognised as safe for use in pregnancy (See following in detail).
Use the lowest dilution of essential oils. No more than 1% dilution in massage. There is good evidence to suggest that essential oil molecules can cross the placenta and some essential oils in large concentrations may not be healthy for the baby.
Alternate the use of different essential oils. Avoid administration of any one oil (or oils with similar constituents) over a prolonged time
AVOID all toxic oils, many of which are ABORTIFACIENT*.
Avoid EMMENAGOGUES* in the first trimester, and use with caution at low dilutions for specific purposes in later stages of pregnancy.
Avoid NEUROTOXIC* and HEPATOXIC* essential oils to minimize risk to the developing embryo/foetus.
Take care with essential oils that may be dermal toxic as pregnant women can be more sensitive.
Avoid hormone-like essential oils e.g. Sweet Fennel and Basil, as they may disturb the hormonal balance during pregnancy.
Take care with phototoxic* essential oils such as Grapefruit, Lemon, Bergamot, Sweet orange and Lime (because of increased levels of melanocytic hormone levels in pregnancy, and increased stress levels, this means expectant mothers may be more sensitive).
Avoid using essential oils during the first trimester if you have had difficulties falling pregnant or if you have had a history of complicated pregnancies or miscarriages unless you are under the supervision of a qualified practitioner.
SAFE ESSENTIAL OILS FOR PREGNANCY
Safe essential oils throughout pregnancy
BERGAMOT Citrus bergamia (Phototoxic)
EUCALYPTUS Eucalyptus globulus (Use in v. low /Can cause skin sensitization/Avoid with epilepsy, hypertension and homeopathy)
FRANKINCENSE Boswellia carteri (Thought to be an EMMENAGOGUE, though most authorities consider it safe/Use in pregnancy in low dilutions). Nearly 30% of Iranian women use frankincense during their pregnancies, which suggests that it is safe.
GERANIUM Pelargonium graveolens(Use in low dilutions: in high dilutions, can be soporific and cause hyperactivity)
GINGER Zingiber officinale (Can cause dermal sensitization)
GRAPEFRUIT Citrus paradisi (Phototoxic)
LEMON Citrus limon (Phototoxic/It can sensitize the skin)
LEMONGRASS Cymbopogon citrates (A skin sensitizer /Contra-indicated with endometriosis/Possibly oestrogenic)
LIME Citrus aurantifolia (A skin sensitizer/Phototoxic)
MANDARIN Citrus nobilis (Slightly phototoxic/Possible skin sensitizer)
NEROLI Citrus aurantium var. amara (Use in low dilutions as contains small amount of jasmine)
SWEET ORANGE Citrus sinensis(Phototoxic/Skin sensitizer)
PATCHOULI Pogostemom patchouli (Use sparingly)
PETITGRAIN Citrus bigaradia (Although non-toxic, non-irritant and non-sensitizing, it can cause skin sensitization in some)
SANDALWOOD Santalum album (Non-irritating/non-toxic/non-sensitising)
TEA TREE Melaleuca alternifolia (Although generally considered non-toxic and non-irritant, it can cause skin irritation in some)
YLANG YLANG Cananga odorata (Make sure you only use top-quality ‘Extra’ or ‘Superior’ essential oil/Avoid using with hypotension)
SAFE ESSENTIAL OILS LATER IN PREGNANCY/END OF TERM
BENZOIN Styrax benzoin (Use mid-pregnancy onward/Possible skin sensitizer)
BLACK PEPPER Piper nigrum (Use at v. low dilutions/Take care if you have renal disease or take diuretics/Can cause skin sensitization)
ROMAN CHAMOMILE Chamaemelum nobile/ Anthemis nobilis and GERMAN CHAMOMILE Matricaria chamomilla (EMMENAGOGUES: Avoid both in the first trimester, and R. Chamomile to be avoided till late pregnancy).
Despite its therapeutic effect on skin problems, prolong use of the oil can cause inflammation on the skin. You should not use chamomile oil if you are allergic to any plant in the Compositae family.
CLARY SAGE Salvia sclarea (EMMENAGOGUE: Avoid using till late pregnancy/Always very low dosages)
LAVENDER Lavendula angustifolia Do NOT use in the first trimester/Avoid if hypotensive, or had epidural anaesthesia). Research shows that Lavender is safe to be used during pregnancy.
SWEET MARJORAM Origanum majorana (An EMMENAGOGUE: Use toward end of term ONLY)
ROSE Rosa damascena/centifolia (An EMMENAGOGUE: But may be used toward end of term)
USEFUL ESSENTIAL OILS DURING BIRTH AND POSTPARTUM
ROSEMARY Rosmarinus officinalis (An EMMENAGOGUE: Use only in small doses toward the end of term/Avoid with hypertension and epilepsy/Skin sensitizer).
BASIL Ocimum basilicum (An EMMENAGOGUE: Avoid topically till the end of pregnancy. It has pain relieving properties, so it can be used during labor and in the postpartum period).
JUNIPER BERRY Juniperus communis (An EMMENAGOGUE: not be used until the end of pregnancy. The oil is also not recommended for people with kidney diseases or hypertension.
JASMINE Jasminum officinale (An EMMENAGOGUE: Due to the high content of ketones, do not apply topically jasmine essential oils until the end of pregnancy. It has a long tradition of use in childbirth by strengthening contractions and relieving pain).
*Abortifacient: a substance that induces abortion.
*Emmenagogue: encourages menstruation (Basil, Chamomile, Clary sage, Fennel, Hyssop, Myrrh, Peppermint, Rose, Rosemary, Sage, Jasmine, Juniper berry, Lavender)
*Neurotoxic: poisonous to the nervous system.
*Hepatoxic: damaging or destructive to liver cells.
*Phototoxic: rendering the skin susceptible to damage (such as sunburn or blisters) upon exposure to light and especially ultraviolet light.
Stretch Marks Oil is a safe and simple solution for pregnant women to take care of the skin, but also a wonderful way to bond with a baby during Pregnancy Belly Massage. Try Focus to give you an instant uplift during those first months of parenting. Roll Inner Peace over pulse points for instant feeling of security, peace and earthy permanence.
Pregnancy Bath Salts
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Davis P. Aromatherapy An A-, Vermilion, UK, 2005
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Price L., Price S. Aromatherapy for health professionals, 2nd edn, Churchill Livingstone, UK, 1999
Mojay G. Aromatherapy for healing the Spirit Hodder & Stoughton, United Kingdom, 1996
Tisserand, R., and Balacs, T. Essential Oil Safety. New York: Churchill Livingstone, 1995