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    Essential Oils and Herbs to Avoid During Pregnancy
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    Parenting Prenatal Health
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    herbs to avoid during pregnancy
    23 March 2015

    Essential Oils and Herbs to Avoid During Pregnancy

    5 mins read
    Prenatal Health
    for Pregnancy
    4710 engaged
    Using essential oils and herbs is a tricky business during pregnancy. They are concentrated, potent substances that are absorbed by the body and can harm both the foetus and the mother-to-be. Therefore, it's imperative to know what oils and herbs to avoid during this tender phase.


    In this article

    Are Essential Oils and Herbs Safe during Pregnancy?
    5 Oils to Avoid When Pregnant
    5 Herbs to Avoid When Pregnant
    Tips to Use Essential Oils and Herbs During Pregnancy

    Herbs and essential oils have long been used in medicines and cosmetics, and for domestic purposes. However, during pregnancy, what you eat and surround yourself with becomes all the more important. While all essential oils and herbs aren't toxic during pregnancy, it never hurts to check the contents and do your own bit of research before you start using them.

    Are Essential Oils and Herbs Safe during Pregnancy?

    Most herbs and essential oils help relieve the discomforts that accompany pregnancy and make for great alternatives to traditional medicines (think swollen feet, nausea, heartburn, and backache). Some of the oils and herbs considered safe to use during pregnancy are: 
    • Sandalwood
    • Coriander
    • Wild Orange
    • Lavender
    • Lemon
    However, some herbs and essential oils are a heady compound of chemicals, which when taken internally or externally, may have negative ramifications.

    Talking from a large perspective, it all boils down to the chemical composition of the oil, the frequency and dosage of the herb you are using, and how you are using it (topically or orally). So what oils and herbs should you avoid while pregnant? Take a look at our comprehensive tell-all and dispel your fears and confusion regarding the use of herbs and oils during pregnancy.

    5 Oils to Avoid When Pregnant

    While most vegetable oils are considered fit for consumption, certain oils fall under the category of oils to avoid during pregnancy. Here is a list.

    1. Basil Oil

      This essential oil tops our list of oils to avoid during pregnancy. In fact, basil oil should also be avoided during breastfeeding. It contains a possible carcinogen called safrole. Apart from this, basil is also a uterine stimulant. 

    2. Cinnamon Oil

      This oil is considered "warm" in nature. It is an emmenagogue, which induces contractions, and should be avoided during pregnancy. Taking high doses of this oil can cause convulsions. This essential oil is also a dermal toxin that can cause irritation.

    3. Rosemary Oil

      This oil is a diuretic and induces menstruation. It can cause miscarriage during pregnancy. If this oil is ingested, it can prove toxic. 

    4. Nutmeg Oil

      This essential oil contains hallucinogens and interferes with the pain-relieving drugs administered during labour. If taken in large doses, it can cause miscarriages.

    5. Fennel Oil

      This oil contains an organic constituent called Trans Anethole, which is harmful during pregnancy. This oil should be avoided during pregnancy, as it can have a narcotic effect if taken in large doses.


    5 Herbs to Avoid When Pregnant

    Just the way certain oils are not fit for use during pregnancy, some herbs also need to be avoided. Here's a list

    1. Aloe Vera

      Although aloe vera has umpteen benefits, it is top contender of the list of herbs to avoid during pregnancy. Aloe leaves are extremely purgative and can theoretically induce uterine contractions when taken orally. However, using Aloe as a topical skin treatment is absolutely safe during pregnancy. 
      Aloe vera

    2. Ginseng

      This herb is traditionally considered "warm" in nature and helps to relieve stress and fatigue. However, because of a lack of substantial research on the effects it has on pregnant women, it is generally advised against during the first trimester. Ginseng is known as a menstrual and uterine stimulant that can impair the foetus.

    3. Fenugreek

      Think of digestive problems and fenugreek pops in the mind. The benefits of fenugreek are far and wide. However, if you're pregnant, we suggest you consult your gynaecologist before consuming this herb. The consumption of this herb during pregnancy can cause uterine stimulation, which in turn can cause preterm labour and even miscarriage. In some cases, it has also shown to cause neurobehavioural and sensorimotor defects in a child after birth.

    4. Sassafras

      Grown in the Eastern United States, this herb is known to give you anything from hallucinations to severe allergies if consumed in large quantities. In pregnant women, it is known to induce uterine stimulations and may cause birth defects and miscarriages. Stay away from this during pregnancy.

    5. Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis)

      Internal use of Thuja, during the early stages of pregnancy, should be avoided. Large doses can cause uterine irritation and can stimulate menstruation, which will adversely affect the foetus.

    Tips to Use Essential Oils and Herbs During Pregnancy

    If you would like to harvest the goodness of essential oils during your pregnancy period, consider the following tips to make the experience safe and enjoyable:
    • Always get your doctor's approval. Since your doctor knows your particular case history, she will be the best person to guide you.
    • Dilute the oil before using it. This is one of the safest ways to use any essential oil, irrespective of whether you are pregnant or not. Consider a carrier oil like coconut oil for the dilution.
    • Consider using diffusers. Diffusers are an excellent way to harvest the aromatherapy benefits of essential oils. However, even with a diffuser, remember that you are inhaling the fumes of the oil. So do get your doctor's approval.
    • Oral consumption should be avoided as far as possible. Go for topical application. It is comparatively safer and prevent your baby from coming in direct contact with the oil.

    fruits to avoid in pregnancy


    6 Fruits to Avoid During Pregnancy

    Always remember to check with your herbalist about the herbs to avoid while pregnant, and always choose only therapeutic-grade oil when it comes to essential oils.

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