Essential Oil & Pregnancy

1. Oils to avoid during pregnancy and lactation — toxic component(s):

  • Anise, Pimpinella anisum — trans-anethole

  • Anise (star), Illicium verum — trans-anethole

  • Araucaria, Neocallitropsis pancheri — beta-eudesmol

  • Artemisia vestita, Artemisia vestita — alpha + beta-thujone

  • Atractylis, Atractyllodes lancea — beta-elemene + beta-eudesmol

  • Birch (sweet), Betula lenta — methyl salicylate

  • Black Seed, Nigella sativa — thymoquinone

  • Buchu (diosphenol ct.), Agathosma betulina ct. diosphenol — alpha + beta-pulegone

  • Buchu (pulegone ct.), Agathosma crenulara ct. pulegone — beta-pulegone

  • Calamint (lesser), Calamintha nepeta — beta-pulegone

  • Carrot Seed, Daucus carota — not identified

  • Cassia, Cinnamomum cassia — not identified

  • Chaste Tree, Vitex agnus castus — not identified

  • Cinnamon Bark, Cinnamomum verum — not identified

  • Costus, Saussurea costus — costunolide + dehydrocostus lactone

  • Cypress (blue), Callitris intratropica — beta-eudesmol

  • Dill Seed (Indian), Anethum sowa — apiole (dill)

  • Fennel (bitter), Foeniculum vulgare — trans-anethole

  • Fennel (sweet), Foeniculum vulgare — trans-anethole

  • Feverfew, Tanacetum parthenium — camphor

  • Genipi, Artemisia genepi — alpha-thujone

  • Hibawood, Thujopsis dolobrata — beta-thujaplicin

  • Ho Leaf (camphor ct.), Cinnamomum camphora ct. camphor — camphor

  • Hyssop (pinocamphone ct.), Hyssopus officinalis ct. pinocamphone — pinocamphones

  • Lanyana, Artemisia afra — alpha + beta-thujone

  • Lavender (Spanish), Lavandula stoechas — camphor

  • Mugwort (camphor/thujone ct.), Artemisia vulgaris ct. camphor/thujone — alpha-thujone

  • Mugwort (chrysanthenyl acetate ct.), Artemisia vulgaris ct. chrysanthenyl acetate — alpha + beta-thujone

  • Mugwort (great), Artemisia arborescens — beta-thujone

  • Myrrh, Commiphora myrrah — beta-elemene + furanodiene

  • Myrtle (aniseed), Backhousia anisata — trans-anethole

  • Oregano, Origanum vulgare — not identified

  • Parsley Leaf, Petroselinum crispum — apiole (dill) + possibly p-menthatriene

  • Parsley Seed, Petroselinum crispum — apiole (parsley)

  • Pennyroyal, Hedeoma pulegioides, Mentha pulegium — beta-pulegone

  • Rue, Ruta graveolens — not identified

  • Sage (Dalmatian), Salvia officinalis — alpha + beta-thujone

  • Sage (Spanish), Salvia lavandulifolia — sabinyl acetate

  • Savin, Juniperus sabina — sabinyl acetate

  • Tansy, Tanacetum vulgare — alpha + beta-thujone

  • Thuja, White Cedar, Thuja occidentalis — alpha + beta-thujone

  • Western Red Cedar, Thuja plicata — alpha + beta thujone

  • Wintergreen, Gaultheria fragrantissima — methyl salicylate

  • Wormwood (all chemotypes), Artemisia absinthium — thujones + sabinyl acetate

  • Wormwood (sea), Artemisia maritime — alpha-thujone

  • Wormwood (white), Artemisia herba-alba — alpha + beta-thujone + camphor

  • Yarrow (green), Achillea nobilis — sabinyl acetate

  • Zedoary, Curcuma zedoaria — not identified

 

2. Oils that should be restricted during pregnancy and lactation — toxic constituents — maximum dermal dose*:

  • Basil (lemon), Ocimum x citriodorum — citral — 1.4%

  • Boswellia papyrifera  — octyl acetate — 1.7%

  • Champaca (Orange) Absolute, Michelia champaca — 2-phenylethanol — 17.5%

  • Lemon Balm (Australian), Eucalyptus staigeriana — citral — 3.4%

  • Lemon Leaf, Citrus x limon — citral — 1.2%

  • Lemongrass, Cymbopogon citratus — citral — 0.7%

  • May Chang, Litsea cubeba — citral — 0.8%

  • Melissa, Melissa officinals — citral — 0.9%

  • Myrtle (honey), Maleleuca teretifolia — citral — 0.9%

  • Myrtle (lemon), Backhousia citriodora — citral — 0.7%

  • Nasturtium Absolute, Tropaeolum majus — benzyl isothiocyanate — 0.26%

  • Tea Tree (lemon-scented), Leptospermum peteronii — citral — 0.8%

  • Thyme (lemon), Thymus lanuginosus var. citriodorum — citral — 3.7%

  • Verbena (lemon), Aloysia citriodora — citral — 0.9%

 

* Calculated to allow for whole-body, once-daily application. This limit was determined for skin sensitization, and also a safe concentration in pregnancy.

 

3. Medical Terms Related to Pregnancy:

  • Abortifacient – Anything that promotes abortion.

  • Emmenagogue – Anything that stimulates menstruation.

  • Embryo – The developmental stage starting at fertilization and ending at the start of the third month of pregnancy.

  • Fetus – The developmental stage starting at the third month and ending at delivery.

  • Teratogen – A stimulus that causes developmental abnormalities in the embryo or the fetus.

 

4. Consolidated Guidelines for Using Aromatherapy During Pregnancy

  • As the embryonic stages of the first trimester are the most crucial in terms of fetal development, it is suggested that essential oils be used only on occasion, such as inhaling for morning sickness.

  • Pregnant women should only use essential oils with guidance from a midwife and aromatherapist.

  • If essential oils are used at any stage during pregnancy, the concentrations administered should be a maximum of 1% dilution (five to six total drops essential oil to 1 oz carrier oil).

  • Application of neat essential oils is not advised at all during pregnancy.

  • Oral, rectal, and vaginal uses of essential oils are inappropriate during pregnancy.

  • The regular, daily use of essential oils while pregnant is not advised.

  • The choice of essential oils used should be limited to those with a history of low toxicity.  There is no “accepted” or “authoritative” list of oils that are safe or unsafe, as all information is based on common sense rather than proven hazards during pregnancy.

  • Avoid the use of all solvent extracts (absolutes) and any poor quality oils, as well as perfumes.

 

Information from Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young’s Essential Oil Safety book, second edition.

Source: Aromahead Institute Aromatherapy Certification Program class notes.

 
 
 
 

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*** The International Federation of Aromatherapists does not recommend that Essential Oils be taken internally unless under the supervision of a Medical Doctor who is also qualified in clinical Aromatherapy. In addition, Essential Oils must be properly diluted before use in order to avoid any damages to property or adverse physical effects (including injury or bodily harm).

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