Essential oils during pregnancy: Which ones are helpful and safe?

Essential oils are liquid concentrates of aroma compounds extracted from plants. They derive from different parts of the plant, like the bark, berries, flowers, leaves, peel, resin or seeds. There are records of the therapeutic use of essential oils dating back to the early 10th century, and we have continued to use them throughout history in various forms and with a vast array of applications, from treating sore muscles and sprains, to treating small skin lesions or insect bites.

Chances are you’ve heard of the uses of the most common essential oils, like peppermint, tea tree, lavender, eucalyptus, or lemon balm. There are many different oils, each one with its specific properties and specific indications for use. Although most of them are regarded as safe when properly used, during pregnancy you must choose an oil that’s been approved for pregnant women.

The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy and the International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists agree that the following essential oils are safe for use during pregnancy: bergamot, black pepper, chamomile, clary sage, cypress, eucalyptus, frankincense, geranium, ginger, grapefruit, juniper, lavender, lemon, neroli, sweet orange, rose, sandalwood, tea tree, and ylang ylang.

Note that all essential oils must be properly diluted before applying them to the skin. The recommended ratio is 1%, which means using 1 drop of oil per teaspoon of carrier oil (like cocoa butter, shea butter, olive oil, or coconut oil), or up to 4 drops in a diffuser or in bathwater -a little goes a long way!

If you have been feeling a bit over-stressed, are experiencing tension headaches, or find yourself somewhat too anxious to get your full-night’s sleep, you could complement your relaxation exercises with either lavender, chamomile, or geranium essential oils. According to papers published in the International Journal of Neuroscience and in the scientific journal Phytomedicine these oils have proven to be as effective as medication. Try giving yourself a temple massage, or diffusing these around your room 30-min before you go to bed.

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