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Essential Oil Use During Pregnancy

Are essential oils safe to use during pregnancy? Absolutely! Essential oils are a wonderful addition to a healthy, low-risk pregnancy. But, with that said, there are extra precautions that need to be followed. I have learned so much from my essential oil education at Aromahead Institute. Much of this information has been from that.

1. First Trimester

Remember, the first trimester is when everything is so delicate and being created. The foundation of development and placenta are being made. Since most everything the mother ingests or uses can cross the placental barrier, we must assume that essential oils can as well. It would be best to use inhalers or diffuse essential oils at this time. An inhaler with ginger would be a great way to ward off morning sickness.

2. Hyperosmia

During pregnancy, many women have a heightened sense of smell. Have you ever smelled something and instantly wanted to throw up? Essential oils can be the same way since they are so potent and can sometimes smell strong. Before using a diffusing blend or topical blend, smell it first to make sure it isn't going to make you sick. It would be awful to have your diffuser going and all of a sudden feel nausea from the smell. Essential oils are supposed to make you feel good, not worse.

3. Dilution

When pregnant, the maximum dermal application (skin) should be 1%. This means no more than 5-6 drops of essential oils should be used per 1 ounce of carrier oil. If you are worried about that much, start slow with 0.5% and see how you feel. Again, since everything the mother applies to her body can possibly cross the placenta, the likely hood of the fetus receiving essential oils is great. Experts are not yet sure of just how much oil crosses the barrier, that is why we recommend no more than 1% dilution. Always, always, always, dilute and never ingest oils unless told to do so by an aromatherapist certified in internal usage.

4. Chemical Constituents

Each essential oil contains chemical constituents that make up that essential oil. These components are the reason why the essential oil is able to help certain issues. There are certain components you must avoid when pregnant and using essential oils, the list is below.

5. Essential Oils to Avoid During Pregnancy and Lactation

​After you deliver your baby, that doesn't mean you are out of the woods usage wise. If you plan to breastfeed, essential oils are able to be transferred into your milk too. Keep the dilution low (see above) and avoid the oils listed below pregnancy oils. I have included the chemical component for the reason why it is not advised. This information has been obtained in part from Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young’s Essential Oil Safety book, second edition and from a dear friend and fellow aromatherapist, Amber Duncan CA.

Pregnancy (and breastfeeding) Oils to Avoid:


  • 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

  • StartFragmentBoldo, Peumus boldus - ascaridoleEndFragment

  • 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

Even though peppermint (Mentha x piperita) and spearmint (Mentha spicata) are safe to use topically during pregnancy, use them sparingly and at very low doses. It is best to use them in a personal inhaler instead.

Oils that should be restricted during pregnancy and lactation — toxic components:

  • Basil (lemon), Ocimum x citriodorum — citral

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

  • Elephant Tree, Boswellia papyrifera — octyl acetate

  • Lemon Balm (Australian), Eucalyptus staigeriana — citral

  • Lemon Leaf, Citrus x limon — citral

  • Lemongrass, Cymbopogon citratus — citral

  • May Chang, Litsea cubeba — citral

  • Melissa, Melissa officinals — citral

  • Myrtle (honey), Maleleuca teretifolia — citral

  • Myrtle (lemon), Backhousia citriodora — citral

  • Nasturtium Absolute, Tropaeolum majus — benzyl isothiocyanate

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

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

  • Verbena (lemon), Aloysia citriodora — citral

I also wanted to add, if you are having trouble getting pregnant, or carrying a baby, avoid these emmenagogue essential oils:

  • Angelica, Angelica archangelica

  • Aniseed, Pimpinella anisum

  • Basil, Ocimum basilicum

  • Bay Laurel, Lauris nobilis

  • Calamintha, StartFragmentCalamintha grandifloraEndFragment

  • Caraway, Carum carvi

  • Carrot Seed, Daucus carota

  • Calendula, Calendula officinalis

  • Chamomile, Anthemis nobilis, Marrubium vulgare

  • Celery seed, Apium graveolens

  • Cinnamon leaf, Cinnamomum zeylanicum

  • Citronella, Cymbopogon nardus

  • Clary sage, Salvia sclarea

  • Cumin, Cuminum cyminum

  • Cypress, Aloysia citriodora

  • Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare

  • Frankincense, Boswellia carterii

  • Galbanum, Ferula galbaniflua

  • Hyssop, Hyssopus officinalis

  • Jasmine, Jasminum officinale

  • Bay Laurel, Lauris nobilis

  • Juniper Berry, Juniperus comminus

  • Marjoram, Origanum majorana

  • Melissa, Melissa officinalis

  • Myrrh, Commiphora myrrha

  • Nutmeg, Myristica fragrans

  • Parsley, Petroselinum sativum

  • Peppermint, Mentha x piperita

  • Rose, Rosa damascena

  • Rosemary, Rosmarius officinalis

  • Sage, Salvia officinalis

  • Tarragon, Artemisia dracunculus

  • Thyme, Thymus vulgaris

I realize that a lot, if not most of these essential oils are not in the regular household collection. Some are. It is better to have information and not need it, then need information and not have it. My passion is to educate and help people make informed decisions regarding their essential oil usage and health. Please visit the rest of our site at if you are in need of essential oils, reiki sessions or crystal healing. Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at Thank you for taking the time to read this and have a wonderful day!

Love and light,


And, as always.... the fun disclaimers. Caution: The material on this page is not meant to take the place of diagnosis and treatment by a qualified medical practitioner. Since the actual use of this product by others is beyond our control, no expressed or implied guarantee as to the effects of their use can be given nor liability taken. Use at your own discretion. Any application of the recommendations is at the user’s risk. Sweet Willow Spirit, LLC disclaims any liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of this information and assumes no responsibility for any actions taken. This should not be used in place of traditional therapies but solely as a complementary means for bringing well-being. The FDA has not evaluated the statements on this website. No claims are made as to any medicinal value of any oil or healing modality.

Some of this information gathered from my studies at Aromahead Institute and from the book Tisserand and Young; Essential Oil Safety A Guide for Health Care Professionals: Second Edition. New York: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 2014. Print


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