Essential Oils and Pregnancy

Essential oils have been widely marketed in the past several years as complementary and/or alternative medicine addressing a lot of conditions. As a professional aromatherapist who regularly blend for different clients, I have seen how these wonderful products of nature have changed many lives. However, these substances should be used with caution and with the knowledge that while essential oils can help relieve common ailments such as congestion or sleeplessness, they should not be used as a substitute to medication especially for those suffering from serious illnesses and diseases.

There are already many movements that engage clinical studies of the efficacy of essential oils on different levels but while there are no definitive results yet, please treat them as another complementary tool in your health arsenal and never to substitute the medicines administered by your physician.

Essential oils in pregnancy is also one controversial issue.

We are under the presumption that essential oils, like any other substance introduced to your bloodstream, can potentially cross the placental barrier and reach the fetus. The increased blood flow to your uterus which is caused by your pregnancy can also be another factor.

It is, therefore, very important to have a basic knowledge of which oils pose great risk and at the same time, really think over if using essential oils in this delicate time of your life is really necessary.

My first question to those who ask if they can use essential oils if they are pregnant is – what will you use them for? I believe that using EOs should start first with an intention and really addressing a certain concern and not only because, “it’s already there, why not use it?”

In general, this is my stand when using essential oils during pregnancy:

  1. Consult your physician regarding the use of essential oils during pregnancy.
  2. Use essential oils only when needed.
  3. Use very low dilution when applying topically. For pregnancy and breastfeeding, it is best to use essential oils at a low dilution of 1% (total number of drops is 2 drops per 10mL blend).
  4. Avoid oils that are produced via solvent extraction (you would see absolutes in their labels; some examples are jasmine absolute, rose absolute, and so on).
  5. Avoid the following oils with the following chemical constituents as they have been shown to show abnormalities in animal testing(1). While the tests were in high internal doses, it is best to proceed with caution when it comes to using these oils:
  • Dill and Parsley: the chemical component, Apiole which can be abortifacient or something that promotes abortion.
  • Myrrh and Atractylis: contain Beta-elemene which is known to be antiangiogenic or inhibits blood vessels from forming
  • Blue Cypress: contain Beta-eudesmol and with the same effect as B-elemene
  • Rosemary ct (chemotype) Camphor, Spike Lavender, Feverfew, Ho Leaf ct Camphor, Spanish Lavender, Dalmatian Sage, Spanish Sage, Camphor and Yarrow: they contain camphor which can be toxic to the fetus.
  • Lemongrass, Melissa, Lemon Balm, Honey Myrtle, Lemon Leaf, Lemon Myrtle, Lemon Thyme, Lemon Verbena, May Chang, Lemon Tea Tree and Lemon Basil: they contain citral which may be teratogenic or can cause abnormalities
  • Birch and Wintergreen: contain Methyl Salicylate (same components you see in Omega Painkiller) that are anticoagulants and teratogenic
  • Frankincense (Boswellia papyriferia): please take note of the Latin name. This is not the same as Boswellia carterii which is the most common type of Frankincense – can be teratogenic because of Octyl Acetate component
  • Hyssop: has Pinocamphone and can be neurotoxic and inhibits brain development
  • Buchu, Calamint and Pennyroyal: contain Pulegone and can be hepatoxic (liver toxicity risk to the mother)
  • Spanish Sage, Green  Yarrow: contain Sabinyl Acetate and can be abortifacient and teratogenic.
  • Camphor, Cinnamon Bark and Leaf, Ho Leaf, Nutmeg, Star Anise, Mace: contain Safrole which may cause liver tumors in the offspring
  • Anise, Star Anise, Fennel and Myrtle (aniseed): contain Trans-Anethole and can be abortifacient and toxic to fetal cells
  • Mugwort, Dalmatian Sage, Tansy, Thuja, Western Red Cedar, Wormwood: contains Thujone and can be neurotoxic (inhibits brain development)
  • Black seed: contains Thymoquinone which can be fetotoxic and antiangiogenic

Women with repro-immune disorders should also bear in mind that there are specific oils that can be counterproductive to their condition. Some oils are anticoagulant and could activate even further the blood thinners they may be taking and this can cause more intense bleeding. Some of the oils that are powerful anticoagulants are:

  • Oils containing Eugenol; cinnamon leaf, clove bud, holy basil, garlic oil, and onion oil: The eugenol constituent in cloves may theoretically increase the risk of bleeding in some people who are concomitantly using herbs such as garlic, ginger, ginkgo, and white willow bark.198 Likewise, patients taking antiplatelet agents such as aspirin, clopidogrel, dipyridamole, ticlopidine, heparin, and warfarin may also experience an increased risk of bleeding (2).
  • Oils containing Methyl Salicylate: Sweet Birch and Wintergreen: One study showed that out of the 11 patients who were given topical methyl salicylate ointment, 3 had bleeding manifestation; 2 with bruises and 1 with gastrointestinal bleeding. It is concluded that topical methyl salicylate ointment should be prescribed with care to patients on warfarin and excessive usage is to be avoided since potentially dangerous drug interaction could occur (3).

This is not an exhaustive list so please also do your own research and also use gentle oils at minimal dilutions.

In conclusion, limit your use of essential oils in pregnancy and use only when necessary because this is the time of your life when there is so much cascade of events taking place inside your body.

If you want to know more about essential oils and safe use (regardless of the brand you use), join me at my Facebook Support Group, Lana Lane.

Happy oiling! ❤

Yours in this aromatic journey

Balot Del Rosario

Certified Professional Aromatherapist

Sources:

(1) Tisserand, R., Young, R. Essential Oil Safety, 2nd Edition, London, Churchill Livingston 2014

(2) https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/clove-oil

(3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2426834/

Essential Oil Workshops – June

I am so excited to kick off two new workshops this June (for now) – Aromatherapy and School Children and Aromatherapy for Women’s Self Care. 

I thought of giving this workshop for moms of school kids in time for the opening of classes (Santi is also entering pre-nursery this June!!!) just so they can maximize the oils that they have in their apothecary. Essential oils are awesome tools in every mom’s cabinet which can promote many positive effects on one’s household. 

Essential oils, for me, are great complementary products that can help moms achieve a healthier, more natural lifestyle.

However, there are many misguided and inaccurate information on the Internet. This is why I really advocate educating people about the safe use of essential oils because they are potent substances that can help when used properly but at the same time, can cause harm if one does not know the safety guidelines, especially for kids. 

On top of that, I am also doing an Aromatherapy for Women’s Self Care, geared primarily for the busy, overwhelmed working moms, work-at-home moms, and even single ladies. Sometimes, we forget to pamper ourselves that we burn out so fast. I am a believer of Covey’s Sharpening the Saw, and I think self-care is one thing to do just that. 

If you are interested in this one, these are the details and the course outline — 

To register, you can go to http://www.bit.ly/lanalaneworkshops and I will get in touch with you soon! Hope to meet you in one of my workshops!

Yours in this aromatic journey, 

Balot Del Rosario | Certified Professional Aromatherapist

Collaborate

Big word.

As a marketing professional of close to 15 years, my training has always been to COMPETE. Everyone needs to have a share of the pie. You have to fight your way to get a chunk of it.

The idea of collaboration is not foreign to me. It happens all the time in the corporate world but it is almost always never with a brand that offers the same services as you do.

I first encountered about this seemingly weird idea, listening to Jeff Brown who runs the Read to Lead podcast in Spotify. His podcast features authors and a short interview on their books.

Jeff also invited other podcasters to his show and while traditional marketing would find that ridiculous, his theory is actually something that I now believe in.

When like-minded people come together to promote a common cause, collaborate and make waves, they do not only get a chunk of the pie, they make pizzas, and cakes and a dessert buffet!

What does this mean?

He only meant that we do not need to compete for that “pie” in our midst. Especially when the market is young and small, everyone will benefit in collaborating and spreading the word about it so that everyone gets their own pie.

This makes a lot of sense.

Even with competing brands, you will always have different consumers. Some clients will like you, others don’t. Followers of an Apple will seldom be followers of Samsung, and if there will be switchers, they are outliers. People choose the brands they choose because they feel a sense of belongingness and this is something that cannot be copied: the personality and the voice of the brand that can only cater to a specific target market.

When I started with the aromatherapy world, I had a chance to meet Russell Lorenzo, the owner of Casa de Lorenzo. I set up an interview with him to understand the essential oil business in the Philippines for my case study. He was most gracious to accommodate me and he answered all my questions. He even invited me to collaborate for a workshop and that surprised me!

On another instance, I approached the founder of Essential Oils Phils. , Gil Thomas, asking permission if I could post a survey in her group so that I can finish my case study. She gladly accommodated me without hesitation. Gil’s advocacy is something that I share so strongly and I am so happy to be part of her tribe.

Another person I look up to who is the it girl of aromatherapy, Jirbie of Couch Wasabi, has also been so amazingly wonderful and generous in sharing her knowledge and experience. She radiates with light and soo much positivity.

As we celebrate today’s Araw ng Kagitingan, I would like to give kudos to the people I mentioned above.

Valor. Bravery. Courage.

It takes a strong heart to leave the comfort and security of a corporate job to venture into the world of the unknown, promoting a natural lifestyle through soaps and eventually, becoming the most credible resource person for the topic.

It takes courage to go against the norm and talk about safety when everyone else is promoting how to use the oils the fastest way via neat application and casual ingestion.

It takes guts to build a business with social responsibility at its core and putting passion before profits.

These new people I found in the aromatherapy world are full of light and love. They are generous with their time, their knowledge, and their experience and I am lucky to have come across them.

When I look back on this path I have taken, my heart swells with pride and there is not an inkling of regret. I see a very bright, oily future ahead. ❤

Prolonging your Essential Oils

🚫 Light
🚫 Heat
🚫 Oxygen

These are the three things your oils hate.

So keep them in a cool, dark place. If you can, put them inside your ref but make sure to put the bottles in sealed containers like the microwaveable ones, so that their aroma, if ever it leaks, would not mix with other contents of your ref.

Oxygen – always keep your bottle closed. If you have big bottles that are halfway full, best to transfer them to small ones so that there is little space inside the bottle for oxygen molecules to occupy.

Happy oiling!

Fragrances vs. Essential Oils and Choosing Essential Oil Suppliers

Aromatherapy has evolved so much over the past decades. Before, herbalists and aromatherapists are considered as quacks. Not until research on individual chemical components of oils has emerged that we have proven that oils work not just on an anecdotal level.

If you are just looking for a good scent, then fragrances may work for you. I was addicted to this earlier in my life, hoarding MM fragrances. A lot of these oils are wonderfully scented and made me feel good because it made my house smell good. Again, there is nothing wrong with this if this is your goal.

However, if you are looking to benefit from the therapeutic properties of oils, such as anti-inflammatory properties or sedating properties (as seen in the research below), what you need is 100% pure essential oil.

Lavender as a relaxant: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/22612017/
Lavender suggested to have anti-edematogenic activity and possesses an anti-inflammatory activity https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5878871/

SO HOW DO YOU KNOW?

There is no 100% guarantee, truth be told. I read in an article that 90% of what is marketed as essential oils are NOT pure essential oils. There are no regulatory bodies worldwide so it is easy to get away with labeling your product 100% essential oils.

SO AGAIN, HOW DO YOU KNOW?

At its best, these are the things I look for when choosing an essential oil supplier.

Caveat: this is my own personal choice as brought up by my aromatherapy certification. If you trust your current oil brand, then I am happy for you and we can just discuss other things in the aromatherapy world. If you are unsure, then maybe these could help:

1. They can provide a GCMS report. Not everyone can read a GCMS report and certainly, there is only a handful of companies that supply this. A GCMS report, to lift from my ACP course, is defined as:

Gas Chromatography (GC) is a method of separating the volatile compounds in essential oils into individual components (like linalool) and producing a linear graph that charts these components. Mass Spectrometry (MS) identifies each of these components and their percentages. It’s like identifying what’s in a jar of applesauce. The report would tell us that there are four components in the applesauce: apples, sugar, cinnamon, and water. Essential oils can have from 10–200 components, or more, and the only way to know exactly what they are is through GC/MS analysis.

Again, not everyone can read these reports. Trained aromatherapists can and this helps us a lot in creating effective blends. So what’s the use then? Personally, the effort in putting it out there for those who can read them shows the company’s commitment to transparency. This is not the end-all, be-all of purity but it certainly helps that they test every batch of oils they sell.

2. Label-wise, their oils show the Latin name (there are many types of lavender with different Latin names and different properties!), and possibly even chemotypes! Most legit EO suppliers I use have the countries of origin and plant parts where the oil came from published on their websites.

3. They are not inexpensive. Because oils are so concentrated, it takes an amazing lot of plant material to produce a single drop. This process is not cheap.

4. They teach safe use of essential oils and continuously educate. This is very important to me as this is a personal advocacy. Personally, I could not be with a company that is not aligned with my beliefs and values.

5. They have good reviews from professionals and regular consumers. As I mentioned before, I highly recommend Real Aromatherapy Reviews on Facebook to see what others think about different oil brands. These reviews are coming from different people from different countries.

I hope this helped you somehow understand EOs a little bit more. Have a good night everyone!