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To use, or not to use, essential oils in pregnancy is an issue that is much debated; however, it is possible to use essential oils in pregnancy, if used correctly.

Essential Oils in Pregnancy

The chemistry of essential oils is such that it is important to understand the exact nature and chemical make-up of an essential oil before using it in pregnancy; many people believe that essential oils should not be used in pregnancy and indeed this is certainly the case for some more volatile essential oils.  However, there are some essential oils that are gentle enough to use both in pregnancy and once baby is born.

Understanding Essential Oils for Pregnancy

It is very important to study and learn as much as possible about an essential oil before considering its use in pregnancy; a qualified aromatherapist will be able to advise you on the safe use of an essential oil for pregnancy and for a particular condition.  Dilute essential oils in a carrier oil or lotion before using them in pregnancy and always make sure that you use therapeutic essential oils (i.e. unadulterated and unfractionated essential oils).

Essential Oils Not to Be Used in Pregnancy

Some essential oils are composed of very active chemical components that can be toxic and dangerous in pregnancy; it is usually the presence of the component ketones or some phenols that make an essential oil unsuitable for use in pregnancy.  The following essential oils are an example (although not an exhaustive list) of essential oils either not to be used in pregnancy at all or only by a very experienced aromatherapist:

– Angelica (Angelica archangelica)
–Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
–Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)
–Clove (Syzygium aromaticum)
–Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)
–Coriander (Coriandrum sativum)
–Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
–Juniper Berry (Juniperus communis)
–Nutmeg (Myristica fragans)
–Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)
–Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
–Thyme Red (Thymus vulgaris)
–Sage (Salvia officinalis)
–Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
–Aniseed (Pimpinella anisum)
–Penny Royal (Mentha pulegium).

Essential Oils That Can Be Used in Pregnancy

Some essential oils are extremely gentle to use, particularly those which have a high alcohol content; many alcohol based essential oils are safe to use throughout the term of a pregnancy.  However, whatever the circumstances, it is always advisable to consult a qualified aromatherapist on the use of an essential oil, if inexperienced in using essential oils in aromatherapy.  Examples (although not an  exhaustive list) of essential oils that can be used in pregnancy are:

–Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)
–Chamomile Roman (Chamaemelum nobile)
–Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus smithii, Eucalyptus staigeriana)
–Frankincense (Boswellia carteri)
–Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)
–Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
–Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi)
–Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
–Lemon (Citrus limon)
–Mandarin (Citrus reticulata)
–Rose Otto (Rosa damascena/centifolia)
–Sandalwood (Santalum album)
–Sweet Orange (Citrus aurantium sinensis)
–Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
–Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata).

Cautions for Using Essential Oils in Pregnancy

There are some cases when essential oils should never be used, or only with caution in pregnancy, depending on individual circumstances; some general contra-indicators for using essential oils in pregnancy are:

–be careful about using any essential oils in the first three months of pregnancy, when miscarriage is most likely to occur.  Although essential oils may not necessarily cause a miscarriage, misuse or use of a particular essential oil with an individual, may aggravate a situation.  Some essential oils are abortive.
–cases of high blood pressure and epilepsy should be treated with the same caution with essential oil use as when not used in pregnancy
–some essential oils may cause skin sensitization or irritation and this may be heightened in pregnancy
–phototoxic essential oils should be used with the same caution as when not used in pregnancy.

Using Essential Oils in Pregnancy Safely

It is strongly advised that  you take professional advice when using essential oils in pregnancy to avoid any potential dangers; each individual may react differently to essential oils depending on medical conditions.  Consult your health care practitioner for further advice. However, with the correct advice and use, many essential oils can be used safely in pregnancy and help alleviate many pregnancy related problems.


- Lawless, Julia 1995 The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils UK: Thorsons
- Penny Price Academy of Aromatherapy, UK

This article was written by Sharon Falsetto and appeared in its original format on Suite101 as Essential Oils for Pregnancy

It is expressively prohibited to copy or use this article in any way unless written permission is given by the author Sharon Falsetto.  If it is discovered that copyright laws have not been complied with, legal action will be pursued by the author Sharon Falsetto.

CopyrightSharonFalsetto2010 All Rights Reserved
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