Safe Essential Oils for Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Safe Essential Oils for Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

When a woman is pregnant, she is often advised by a doctor to be extra cautious with her food and drug intake as well as cosmetic products applied to the skin. It is because during pregnancy, whatever the mother takes internally or externally could reach the fetus through the placenta. The same is also true for breastfeeding mothers. The mother’s daily diet can affect the nutritional content of the breast milk.

It is no wonder that women often ask if it is safe to use essential oils while pregnant or breastfeeding. The primary concern comes from the fact that essential oil constituents (chemical compounds) can enter a mother’s bloodstream and can eventually reach the fetus or affect breast milk production. Some essential oil constituents are believed to be:

Fetotoxic – can have toxic effect to the developing fetus

Teratogenic – can cause congenital malformation (birth defect)

Emmenagogue – can stimulate menstruation (which can abort pregnancy)

The following table lists essential oils that should be avoided throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding. These essential oils contain chemical compounds that are either fetotoxic, teratogenic or emmenagogue.

ESSENTIAL OIL
LATIN NAME
Anise
Pimpinella anisum
Anise (Star)
Illicium verum
Araucaria
Neocallitropsis pancheri
Artemisia
Artemisia vestita
Atractylis
Atractylylodes lancea
Birch (Sweet)
Betula lenta
Black Seed
Nigella sativa
Buchu
Agathosma betulina ct. diosphenol
Buchu
Agathosma crenulata ct. pulegone
Calamint (lesser)
Calamintha nepeta
Carrot Seed
Daucus carota, Daucus carota subspecies sativa
Cassia
Cinnamomum cassia,
Cinnamomum aromaticum
Chaste Tree
Vitex ugnus castus
Cinnamon Bark
Cinnamomum verum,
Cinnamomum zeylanicum
Costus
Saussurea costus
Cypress (Blue)
Calitris intratopica
Dill Seed (Indian)
Anethum graveolens
Fennel (Bitter)
Foeniculum vulgare
Fennel (Sweet)
Foeniculum vulgare
Feverfew
Tanacetum parthenium
Genipi

Artemisia genepi
Hibawood
Thujopsis dolobratta
Ho Leaf
Cinnamomum camphora
Hyssop
Hyssopus officinalis
Lanyana
Citrus aurantifolia
Lavender (Spanish) **
Lavandula stoechas
Mugwort (common)
Artemisia vulgaris chemotypes camphor, thujone
Mugwort (common)
Artemisia vulgaris chemotypes chrysanthenyl, acetate
Mugwort (great)
Artemesia aborescens
Myrrh
Commiphora myrrha,
Cammiphora molmol
Myrtle (aniseed)
Backhousia anisata
Oregano
Origanum vulgare,
Origanium onites
Parsley Leaf
Petroslinum sativum, Petroseliunum crispum
Parsley Seed
Petroslinum sativum, Petroseliunum crispum
Pennyroyal
Mentha pulegium, Hedeoma pulegioides, Micromeria fruiticosa
Rue
Ruta graveolens
Sage (Dalmatian)
Salvia officinalis
Sage (Spanish)
Salvia lavandulaefolia
Savin
Juniperus sabina
Tarragon
Tanacetum vulgare
Thuja
Thuja occidentalis
Western Red Cedar
Thuja plicata
Wintergreen
Gaultheria procumbens,
Gaultheria fragrantissima
Wormwood
Artemisia absinthium
Wormwood (Sea)
Artemisia martima
Wormwood (White)
Artemisia herba-alba
Yarrow (Green)
Achillea nobilis
Zeodary
Curcuma sedoria
Table Source: Tisserand & Young, 2014, p. 160 – 161

** Take note that English Lavender or True Lavender, with a Latin name of Lavandula angustifolia, is safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

The following table lists essential oils that can be used safely as long as the maximum dermal limit is followed when applied topically (on skin). These essential oils can also be safely used via inhalation and diffusion.

ESSENTIAL OIL
LATIN NAME
MAX. DERMAL USE LEVEL
Basil (Lemon)
Ocimum x citriodorum
1.4%
Champaca (Orange) Absolute
Michelia champaca
17.5%
Frankincense (Sudanese)
Boswellia papyrifera
1.7%
Lemon Balm (Australian)
Eucalyptus staigeriana
3.4%
Lemon Leaf
Citrus x limon
1.2%
Lemongrass
Cymbopogon flexuosus
0.7%
May Chang
Litsea cubeba, Litsea citriata,
Laurus cubeba
0.8%
Melissa
Melissa officinalis
0.9%
Myrtle (Honey)
Melaleuca teretifolia
0.9%
Myrtle (Lemon)
Backhousia citriodora
0.7%
Nastrurtium Absolute
Tropaeolum majus
0.26%
Tea Tree (lemon-scented)
Leptospermum petersonii
0.8%
Thyme (Lemon)
Thymus x citriodorus
3.7%
Verbena (Lemon)
Aloysia triphylla
0.9%
Table Source: Tisserand & Young, 2014, p. 164

The following table lists essential oils that you can safely use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

ESSENTIAL OIL
LATIN NAME
Amyris
Amyris balsamifera
Balsam Fir
Abies balsamea
Bergamot
Citrus bergamia
Black Pepper
Piper nigrum
Blue Tansy
Tanacetum annuum
Cedarwood (Atlantica, Himalayan, Virginian)
Cedrus atlantica, Cedrus deodara, Juniperus virginiana
Chamomile (German, Roman)
Matricaria chamomilla, Chamaemelum nobile
Citronella
Cymbopogon winterianus
Clary Sage *
Salvia sclarea
Copaiba Balsam
Copaifera officinalis
Coriander
Coriandrum sativum
Cypress
Cupressus sempervirens
Dill Weed
Anethum graveolens
Eucalyptus Globulus **
Eucalyptus globulus
Fir Needle
Abies sibirica
Fragonia
Agonis fragrans
Frankincense (Carteri, Frereana)
Boswellia carteri, Boswellia frereana
Geranium (Bourbon, Egyptian)
Pelargonium x asperum
Grapefruit
Citrus x paradisi
Helichrysum (Italicum, Splendidum)
Helichrysum italicum, Helichrysum splendidum
Juniper Berry
Juniperus communis
Lavandin
Lavandula x intermedia
Lavender (English)
Lavandula angustifolia
Lemon
Citrus x limon
Lemon Eucalyptus
Corymbia citriodora
Mandarin
Citrus reticulata
Marjoram
Origanum majorana
Neroli
Citrus x aurantium
Orange (Sweet)
Citrus sinensis
Orange (Blood)
Citrus sinensis
Palmarosa
Cymbopogon martini
Patchouli
Pogostemon cablin
Petitgrain
Citrus x aurantium
Pine
Pinus sylvestris
Rosalina
Melaleuca ericifolia
Rosemary **
Rosmarinus officinalis
Sandalwood
Santalum spicatum
Spearmint
Mentha spicata
Spruce
Picea mariana
Tangerine
Citrus reticulata
Tea Tree
Melaleuca alternifolia
Vetiver
Vetiveria zizanioides
*    Safe for breastfeeding but not for pregnancy

** Safe for pregnancy but not for breastfeeding

Tips for Safely Using Essential Oils during Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

1. While pregnant or breastfeeding, it is not recommended to ingest any essential oils (even those that are considered safe).

2. Diffusion and steam inhalation are safe method of using essential oils while pregnant or breastfeeding. However, it is best to only diffuse or inhale essential oils “when it’s really needed” (e.g. to beat morning sickness). Also, diffusing essential oils should not be more than 1 hour in a day.

3. When using pregnancy and breastfeeding safe essential oils for dermal application, the safe dosing should not be more than 1% dilution (less is better).
1% Dilution
5 ml (1 tsp carrier oil)
1 drop
10 ml (2 tsp carrier oil)
3 drops
15 ml (3 tsp carrier oil)
4 drops
30 ml (6 tsp carrier oil)
9 drops
4. Avoid using any essential oils during the critical first trimester of the pregnancy.

5. If your pregnancy is considered “high risk”, it is best idea to consult first a medical professional or a certified aromatherapist before using any essential oils.

6. Always read the Latin name (botanical name) indicated on the essential oil bottles. This is important due to the fact that some essential oils with same common name but different botanical name might not have the same safety issues. For example, Lavender (Lavandula stoechas) is not safe for pregnancy and breastfeeding while Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is safe.

In summary, one must be extra cautious when using certain essential oils while pregnant or breastfeeding as they could either affect the fetus or diminish breast milk supply. There are a couple of essential oils that can be safely used as long as safe dilution rate is followed (for dermal application). When in doubt, always consult first a doctor or a certified aromatherapist before using any essential oils.

References:

Essential Oils During Conception, Pregnancy and Beyond. Retrieved from https://www.tisserand.com/blog/wellbeing/aromatherapy-conception-pregnancy-birth/

Lavender Oil and Pregnancy. Retrieved from https://roberttisserand.com/2011/07/lavender-oil-and-pregnancy/

Peppermint and Breastfeeding – Results of Poll. Retrieved from https://tisserandinstitute.org/peppermint-and-breastfeeding-results-of-poll/

Tisserand, R. and Young, R. (2014). Essential Oil Safety (2nd ed.). London: Elsevier.

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1 comments

  1. The steam inhaler helps in soothing the steady vapour. You can vary the adjustment of the steam and thus making it perfect for aromatherapy.

    Gurin Steam Inhaler

    ReplyDelete

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