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Is It Safe to Use Essential Oils During Pregnancy (Part 1 of 2)

Posted Oct 03 2012 8:17am
Written by Tera on October 3, 2012 – -

By Nadine Artemis

When does it start that soul that circles your heart?

And, now you are having a baby…

Naturally, as your baby grows, your belly expands, and this new soul captures your heart, your desire to nurture and protect your little one grows, too. Increasingly thoughtful about your health and what you put on and in your body, you may now wonder how botanical oils will affect your pregnancy. Delightful and intuitive, essential oils are an unparalleled gift for our beauty, and they are life-nurturing elixirs for expectant mothers.

Many women ask me if essential oils, or if any specific oils, should be avoided during pregnancy. Aromatherapy books and bottles make sweeping disclaimers, cautioning us of the potential risks of using essential oils during pregnancy. It is true that the pure plant potency of essential oils uniquely interacts with and influences our bodies, our brains and our cells, and this does raise interesting questions for expecting mothers:

Could essential oils disrupt the normal outcome of pregnancy?

Could they harm the baby?

It is really important to know the source of the essential oils that you use; you want to know exactly what is in that little bottle of oil. The essential oils that are readily available in the market, even those sold in health food stores, are often less than pure and true. Mass distilled for the food and perfume industry, these oils are cheaply produced and may even be imitations. It is inadvisable for safety and effectiveness for anyone to use low quality oils. Only authentic oils, distilled carefully and truthfully from organically grown plant matter can provide the benefits of plant wisdom. Know your source.

There are hundreds of essential oils available in aromatherapy. Most of the oils are elegant and user-friendly, and only a handful of them are best avoided by everyone. With so many choices, it is easy to avoid these oils, so please do: Dalmation Sage, Mugwort, Thuja, Tarragon, Hyssop officinalis (not Hyssop decumbens) and Pennyroyal. In addition to these, there are a few essential oils that pregnant women will want to avoid throughout pregnancy: Spanish Sage (not Sage officinalis), Parsley Leaf and Parsley seed, Oakmoss, Lavandula stoechas, Lavender cotton (this is not common Lavender) and Savin.[1]

In a healthy pregnancy, a woman naturally has more of the hormone progesterone in her body than estrogen. There are a few essential oils, including clary sage, anise and fennel contain phytoestrogens that closely resemble the natural estrogen produced by the body. The concern raised in aromatherapy books is there may be a chance that the oil will tip the scales toward estrogen thereby destabilizing the delicate and perfectly calibrated balance of hormones putting an expectant woman’s body into an unwanted estrogenic phase.

Many plants have estrogenic actions, and many of these plants are common, like potatoes and soy. It is unlikely that a doctor or midwife will request that you refrain from eating or touching potatoes while pregnant to prevent an estrogen imbalance (although, I highly recommend never eating soy). Like potatoes, the estrogenic property of essential oils is mild when used in moderation, as a drop or two. Even the estrogenic oils that are on the no-no list in aromatherapy books are safe to use metered as a few drops. Used in moderation and properly diluted, you receive all of the blessings of the plant oil without creating an estrogen issue that would disrupt your pregnancy. Historically, most of the attempts of using essential oils to cause abortions have flopped. [2]

Essential oils may cross from the mother’s blood though the placenta and affect the baby. For a substance to cross through the placenta its molecular weight must be under 1000 and the molecular weight of all essential oils are well below 500.[3] So, it is best to assume that every essential oil can cross the placenta. Exposing a fetus to essential oils is only risky if specific components of some oils reach a toxic level. There is minimal data on the affects and concentrations of essential oils, or drugs for that matter, on a human embryo because of the ethics and complications of experimenting on babies in utero.

Neem oil is wonderful oil that frequently comes with cautions for pregnant women. It is important to note that these warnings are due to an absence of testing instead of a proven record of non-safety. A powerful force for health, Neem is versatile and safe and for pregnant women when used with common sense and moderation.

Neem is a tropical tree that grows heartily and rapidly in India. For thousands of years, Indians have used the bark, twigs, flowers and seeds of the Neem tree widely and in every area of daily life: a pesticide and fertilizer for food crops, the tender leaves are added to salads, a bug repellent to ward off malaria-causing mosquitos, a medicine for stomach and intestinal problems, in skin and beauty products for hair, skin and nail health and some people chewing on Neem twigs to prevent cavities and gingivitis.

Neem does play an important role in family planning in India; some Indian women apply Neem oil vaginally as a spermicide and brew the leaves as a strong and bitter tea sipped daily as contraception aid for men. For effective contraceptive activity, concentrations of Neem must be much higher than the standard and proper rate of dilution used in health and beauty care.

Neem oil is beneficial and health supportive when used with common sense. In fact, it only takes a tiny drop of Tooth Truth Polish on a toothbrush for effective tooth-care.

COMING SOON, PART 2 of 2.   Meanwhile you can join Nadine, Tera and friends with our fantastic 30 days  BE-Beauty program. Let the Power of Nature Nourish Your Skin, Restore Your Youthful Glow and Help You Save a Fortune at the Cosmetic Counter!

About the Author:

Nadine Artemis is the creator of Living Libations, an exquisite line of serums, elixirs and essentials oils for those seeking the purest botanical health and beauty products on the planet. She is a frequent commentator on health and beauty for media outlets and her products have  received rave reviews in  The New York Times, The National Post and The Hollywood Reporter.  An innovative aromacologist, Nadine develops immune enhancing formulas and medicinal blends for health and wellness: her potent dental drops are used worldwide and provide the purest oral care available.   Nadine’s new paradigm for beauty and her natural approach to health presents a revolutionary vision: it allows the life-force of flowers, dewdrops, plants, sun and water to be the ingredients of healthy living and lets everything unessential, contrived and artificial fall away. Also by Nadine Artemis: “Successful Self Dentistry: How to Avoid the Dentist Without Ignoring Your Teeth”  You’ll also learn how to improve your diet, how to protect your children’s teeth, herbal therapies, how to choose a dentist and how to prepare for a dental appointment.
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 [1] Tisserand, Robert. Tony Balacs. Essential Oil Safety; A Guide for Health Care Professionals. Churchill Livingstone: 1995. pg 111

[2] Tisserand, Robert. Tony Balacs. Essential Oil Safety; A Guide for Health Care Professionals. Churchill Livingstone: 1995. pg 3

[3] Tisserand, Robert. Tony Balacs. Essential Oil Safety; A Guide for Health Care Professionals. Churchill Livingstone: 1995. pg 105

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