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Essential Oil And Pregnancy Safety

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Medical doctors, aromatherapists and herbalists all recommend AVOIDANCE of essential oils during the first trimester.

1. Methods of use of essential oils in pregnancy

Essential oils can be used in several ways:

  • Inhalation

  • Diffusion

  • Applied to the skin when diluted In lotions or oils


2. A little bit of chemistry - how essential oils affect the body

Neurons connect in the human body and create our physio-emotional responses

When inhaling or applying essential oils (EO), remember that EO are organic compounds that are directly absorbed into the body at the molecular level. Current research shows us how essential oil molecules interact with the molecules in the human body. When we inhale or apply EO to the skin, the EO molecules bind with receptors in the brain and body and there is a neuro-hormonal response. The phytochemical constituents of the essential oil, cause an emotional and physiological body response which can be regenerative, relaxing, soothing, balancing and slightly uplifting.

Pregnant women are usually looking for a gentle way to enhance their natural relaxation response, in order to soothe fears, anxiety and normal pains. The essential oils recommended for pregnancy here contain specific phytochemical constituents that stimulate the brain and body to release neurotransmitters, such as acetylcholine and beta-endorphins, that are part of the natural relaxation response,

3. Safe ratio levels are important to protect the developing baby

In pregnancy, when using essential oils topically on your skin or when inhaling via diffusion, it is critical that you use a concentration of essential oils that is safe for the developing baby.

Essential oils (EO) are organic compounds that are absorbed into the body and reach the mother. These organic compounds can also cross the placenta barrier and reach the baby as well as the mother. Therefore, care must be taken to properly dilute EO in a carrier oil. In addition, only certain essential oils are found to be safe for use during pregnancy.

Remember, in pregnancy, the mom and baby must both be considered.

So, dilute, dilute, dilute and only use the essential oils on the short list known to be safe for mom and baby.

Safe Ratio for Topical Application:

Use a 1% dilution of essential oil in carrier oil or lotion

1% dilution means 1 DROP OF EO to 2 teaspoons of carrier oil or lotion

The carrier oils or lotions you use for your base for your personal essential oil mixes are really a personal preference. The feel, color and natural scents of natural carrier oils and lotions are wonderful and most have wonderful nut-like or woodsy or neutral scents.

One suggested carrier oil and a whipped shea butter lotion is listed below.

Whipped natural, unscented shea butter is soothing, easily absorbed and usually tolerated by most people. Hard shea butter is unsuitable for easy mixing as it is, well, a hard lump. But the whipped shea butter is nice and soft and easily mixed.

Jojoba seed oil is neutral, and has a molecular profile that is close to human sebum. It is usually well tolerated by most people and is soft and glides on easily.

Safe use of diffusion:

Diffuse in small intervals, no more than 30 minutes at a time, using a diffuser with a timer. There are many products out there that have a timer feature. This is just one, search around for one that fits in with your decor and that is integrated with your type of devices.

4. Essential Oils Safe to Use During Pregnancy

For safety, stick to a short list of essential oils that are considered safe for pregnancy and are commonly found in popular pregnancy products. Use essential oils sparingly, only once or twice a day, and always dilute, dilute, dilute!

Morning Sickness:


Relaxation: Lavender




Uplifting the mood:

Sweet Orange



Roman Chamomile

To read more about the essential oils with aromatic phytochemical profiles that are safe for pregnancy, take a look at the ultimate research based, scientific guide to safety. Robert Tisserand's large highly technical volume called Essential Oil Safety All reputable aromatherapy courses use Tisserand's book as a reference guide.

If you are looking for a more use friendly, less technical guide, this volume is written by Valerie Ann Worwood, who is one of the founding mothers of aromatherapy, bringing aromatherapy to the public with her lovely, lyrical books. She has a chapter in this book about pregnancy and essential oils.

5. Essential Oils to AVOID completely during pregnancy
  • Anise

  • Anise star

  • Artemisia

  • Basil

  • Birch

  • Black Seed

  • Buchu

  • Camphor

  • Carrot Seed

  • Chaste tree

  • Cinnamon bark

  • Clary Sage

  • Cypress (blue)

  • Dill seed

  • Fennel

  • Feverfew

  • Ho leaf (Camphor)

  • Hyssop

  • Lanyaya

  • Mogwort

  • Myrrh

  • Oregano

  • Oak Moss

  • Parley Seed or Leaf

  • Pennyroyal

  • Peppermint

  • Rosemary

  • Rue

  • Sage

  • Tansy

  • Tarragon

  • Thuja

  • Thyme

  • Wintergreen

  • Wormwood

  • Yarrow

This list is derived from

Robert Tisserand's Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals


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