Essential Oils and Pregnancy

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Disclaimer:  I am board certified Internal Medicine.  Please follow the recommendations of your obstetrician if you are considering using essential oils or aromatherapy during your pregnancy.

I was recently asked what essential oils to use during pregnancy.  I thought I could answer the question easily, since I’ve used essential oils for a few years now, and I’ve often recommended essential oils without much thought.  I recently read Bottle of Lies, a chilling reminder not to take drug safety for granted. I decided that before I would answer her, I should check some references.  There is always a concern about safety of a chosen drug or treatment. Even more so, pregnancy is a unique time. Fetal development can be affected by many factors, and there many historical reminders of assuming at treatment is safe during pregnancy when it really isn’t.  

I was surprised to find that most of my trusted references concerning aromatherapy, essential oils and use in pregnancy are sparse, with very little information.  I decided to search the database Pubmed for answers. .

I approach this subject with caution because throughout the history of medicine, treatments deemed to be safe initially are later to be found unsafe.  There are many blogs and post that will give a list of essential oils to use during pregnancy, but I caution readers not start any therapy while pregnant without speaking to your physician. Essential oils are natural, but like any treatment, they are highly active within the human body.  

Pregnancy is typically a time of many symptoms.  Women are often seeking relief from nausea, vomiting, fatigue, insomnia, and postpartum depression.   I did a general search term of essential oils/aromatherapy and pregnancy. I initially reviewed 39 medical journal articles seeking some guidance.  I was able to narrow my search to a few relevant articles, any my search list can be found here

   

Nausea and Vomiting Relief

This is the most common symptom pregnant women must cope with.  Pregnancy related nausea and vomiting is unfortunately not very well understood.  Prior to actually researching the topic, I assumed, like many people, that peppermint, ginger, and lavender are the best essential oil to relieve nausea. 

When peppermint oil was tested in a small study consisting of 56 pregnant women suffering from nausea and vomiting in the first and second trimester, it was found to have the same effect as placebo for relieving nausea and vomiting(1).

1.Joulaeerad N, Ozgoli G, Hajimehdipoor H, Ghasemi E, Salehimoghaddam F. Effect of Aromatherapy with Peppermint Oil on the Severity of Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy: A Single-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled trial. J Reprod Infertil. 2018 Jan-Mar;19(1):32-38. PubMed PMID: 29850445; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5960050.

I found another study here also showing that peppermint is not likely to reduce pregnancy related nausea and vomiting. A systematic  review of the effects of complementary medicine conducted by researchers also confirmed that peppermint was not effective at relieving nausea (2).

 

2. Ozgoli G, Saei Ghare Naz M. Effects of Complementary Medicine on Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy: A Systematic Review. Int J Prev Med. 2018;9:75. doi: 10.4103/ijpvm.IJPVM_430_16. eCollection 2018. Review. PubMed PMID: 30319738; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6177529.

Lemon essential oil was found to be effective in relieving nausea and vomiting related to pregnancy in two of the articles I found (2, 3).

My recommendations with the information I have available is that Lemon Essential Oil is a good idea to relieve nausea.  I would recommend to use the aromatherapy by inhalation only, breathing the oil in on a tissue or cotton ball a few times a day to relieve pregnancy related nausea. 

Aromatherapy for Easing Labor Pain

Treating labor pain is likely going to be of the utmost concern. Many women these days are opting to forgo traditional anesthesia techniques and use holistic care to assist during labor. Women choosing to forgo regional anesthesia such as epidural injections may opt to use aromatherapy during the labor process.

A study consisting of 104 young women in labor with uncomplicated pregnancies showed that overall pain levels throughout early labor were reduced in those  that received aromatherapy. (4).

Tanvisut R, Traisrisilp K, Tongsong T. Efficacy of aromatherapy for reducing pain during labor: a randomized controlled trial. Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2018 May;297(5):1145-1150. doi: 10.1007/s00404-018-4700-1. Epub 2018 Feb 3. PubMed PMID: 29397442.

Women in labor in an Iranian hospital showed reduced pain an anxiety during labor when they received Rose aromatherapy (5).  

Hamdamian S, Nazarpour S, Simbar M, Hajian S, Mojab F, Talebi A. Effects of aromatherapy with Rosa damascena on nulliparous women’s pain and anxiety of labor during first stage of labor. J Integr Med. 2018 Mar;16(2):120-125. doi: 10.1016/j.joim.2018.02.005. Epub 2018 Feb 9. PubMed PMID: 29526235.

Aromatherapy for Postpartum Depression

A small, double blinded study of pregnant women, many who were at risk of postpartum depression tested the efficacy of using Rose and Lavender essential oils to reduce the incidence of postpartum depression.  This particular study I found interesting because the subjects were chosen that had risk of depression, which made gathering a large sample size difficult. Most studies tend to select subjects with no history to simplify gathering date.  The researchers tested a combination of rose and lavender essential oil again sesame seed oil and sweet musk oil, and no oil at all. According to the results of the present study, it seems using aromatherapy has a significant effect on reducing depression after delivery (6).

6. Kianpour M, Moshirenia F, Kheirabadi G, Asghari G, Dehghani A, Dehghani-Tafti A. The Effects of Inhalation Aromatherapy with Rose and Lavender at Week 38 and Postpartum Period on Postpartum Depression in High-risk Women Referred to Selected Health Centers of Yazd, Iran in 2015. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2018 Sep-Oct;23(5):395-401. doi: 10.4103/ijnmr.IJNMR_116_16. PubMed PMID: 30186346; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6111664

My Recommendations

  • Nausea Relief:
    • Consider trying Lemon Essential Oil used by inhalation.  I would not recommend it topically since it may cause photosensitivity (sun sensitivity).  I recommend inhaling Lemon essential oils using a diffuser of choice or applying a drop to a cotton ball.
    • Peppermint essential oil is not shown by my evidenced based search to be effective at relieving nausea or vomiting in pregnancy, however, if you find using it helps, consider using only inhaled forms.
  • Mood Improvement:
    • Consider using Rose Essential Oil or Lavender Essential Oil for improving your mood.  Lavender essential oil tends tobe reasonably priced. Rose essential oils is expensive, and I would recommend investing in the purchase form a company with a good track records such as Doterra.  Doterra makes a ready made Rose Essential Oil.

During my research, I discovered the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy.  I bookmarked this wonderful online resource.  This organization is primarily for professional aromatherapists but has some wonderful resources.  This link will take you to the websites recommendations on aromatherapy use in pregnancy. 


Please see the citation list below. Please post any additional questions in the comments. Thank you for reading!

Citations

1.Joulaeerad N, Ozgoli G, Hajimehdipoor H, Ghasemi E, Salehimoghaddam F. Effect of Aromatherapy with Peppermint Oil on the Severity of Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy: A Single-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled trial. J Reprod Infertil. 2018 Jan-Mar;19(1):32-38. PubMed PMID: 29850445; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5960050.

2. Ozgoli G, Saei Ghare Naz M. Effects of Complementary Medicine on Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy: A Systematic Review. Int J Prev Med. 2018;9:75. doi: 10.4103/ijpvm.IJPVM_430_16. eCollection 2018. Review. PubMed PMID: 30319738; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6177529.

3.  Yavari Kia P, Safajou F, Shahnazi M, Nazemiyeh H. The effect of lemon inhalation aromatherapy on nausea and vomiting of pregnancy: a double-blinded, randomized, controlled clinical trial. Iran Red Crescent Med J. 2014 Mar;16(3):e14360. doi: 10.5812/ircmj.14360. Epub 2014 Mar 5. PubMed PMID: 24829772; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4005434.

4.  Tanvisut R, Traisrisilp K, Tongsong T. Efficacy of aromatherapy for reducing pain during labor: a randomized controlled trial. Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2018 May;297(5):1145-1150. doi: 10.1007/s00404-018-4700-1. Epub 2018 Feb 3. PubMed PMID: 29397442.

5.  Hamdamian S, Nazarpour S, Simbar M, Hajian S, Mojab F, Talebi A. Effects of aromatherapy with Rosa damascena on nulliparous women’s pain and anxiety of labor during first stage of labor. J Integr Med. 2018 Mar;16(2):120-125. doi: 10.1016/j.joim.2018.02.005. Epub 2018 Feb 9. PubMed PMID: 29526235.


6. Kianpour M, Moshirenia F, Kheirabadi G, Asghari G, Dehghani A, Dehghani-Tafti A. The Effects of Inhalation Aromatherapy with Rose and Lavender at Week 38 and Postpartum Period on Postpartum Depression in High-risk Women Referred to Selected Health Centers of Yazd, Iran in 2015. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2018 Sep-Oct;23(5):395-401. doi: 10.4103/ijnmr.IJNMR_116_16. PubMed PMID: 30186346; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6111664

Yoga as a Coping Skill

Yoga in Sanskrit means “union” of the mind, body and spirit.  So it makes sense that I myself being a licensed mental health counselor, also practice yoga. With my yoga practice I feel I am joining my mind, body and soul to becoming a whole and complete being. I feel there is so much more to healing than talk therapy although it is useful. The body stores energy whether positive or negative and stress, a form of energy, can be held in the body causing pain and illnesses.

I was probably first introduced to yoga as a small child as I watched my mother stretching down in the floor in front of the TV in the evenings after supper. As a child I was full of energy and probably was difficult to keep still. My mother could tell you stories about me dancing in the pews at church. Dance became my first love. I found I could escape any negative thought or feelings through dance and release excess energy. I also felt whole and complete when I danced, as if nothing could tear me down. It became a source of resilience for me.

Then once I became older and a dance injury kept me out of dance, I began to try other things. I found yoga again after my divorce. On Tuesday nights I would take my very young son to spend time with his dad while I would attend a very crowded yoga class. I immediately reconnected my mind with my body and spirit again. If you have ever been through a divorce you understand how emotionally draining it can be and how overwhelmed with feelings you can become. Yoga gave me a peace of mind through not only the poses, called Asanas, but also through the breath, or Pranayama.

Three years ago I decided to become a certified yoga Instructor with the intentions of combining it with my private practice therapy. Today in my private practice, I teach my clients how to breathe and reclaim their Yoga which we are all born with, but must find.  How do you relax?

Yoga as Self-Care for the Counselor

                Counselor fatigue is often overlooked in our field. Sometimes even completely ignored. We try to balance work and life by carrying heavy caseloads, maintaining copious amounts of paperwork that professors never tell you about in graduate school, all the while still taking care of ourselves, our health, households, etc.  We counselors have learn to care for ourselves just as well as we care for our clients.  If not even more, perhaps!

                Therapists are taught to be “containers” of others thoughts, feelings and beliefs. We are taught to hold things and keep them confidential. These thoughts, feelings and beliefs of our clients are often a result of traumatic life events and they may simply not align with our own thoughts, feelings and beliefs. 

The energy transferred from our clients to us in a session can leave us feeling exhausted or even depleted emotionally. Therapists are encouraged to educate our clients about healthy lifestyles, self-awareness, and emotion regulation. But what about our own stuff that we carry with us each day? Sometimes Counselors feel that we should have all of the answers and therefore don’t reach out for help at times when we may need it the most.

                Yoga cultivates a welcoming attitude for all that arises in the mind, whether it be positive or negative. Yoga not only brings the mind and body together but relieves stress, increases moods, and assists in work-life balance.  Yoga helps increase our awareness of our physical bodies and souls if we just take the time out to listen. The best thing about Yoga is that you can take it with you and do it anywhere! At your desk, in the airport, or even standing in the grocery store check-out line.

                Next time you have a few moments alone and in a quiet space, make sure your feet are firmly placed on the ground. Now, place your right hand on your belly and your left hand on your heart and just pay attention to your breath. What do you notice? How does it feel? Does it come in through your nose rough or soft? Is it cool or warm? Try not to change the breath, but just notice it and see if you can’t slow things down for yourself for a moment.

                Take this moment to recharge!

Taking Time out for myself utilizing Yoga

In today’s society there is a liquor store, dry cleaners, and nail salon on just about every corner. Everyone is constantly in a hurry. Everyone wanted “it” yesterday.  “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” Like the lady said. But in fact, that’s the very thing we need. Time. More time! But also more relaxation.

Every day in my private practice I hear people tell me they don’t have time for self-care and relaxation. Sometimes I hear that response even after I tell them I am only asking for 15 minutes a day! Break it up into 5 in the morning, 5 in the afternoon, and 5 in the evening. Surely, you have that kind of time to do something nice for yourself that encourages healing and relaxation.

Two years ago I was diagnosed with a heart issue. I couldn’t believe it! I was just 44 years old at the time. What? High blood pressure and a leaky valve! You can imagine the shock that set in my body. That diagnosis totally changed my line of thinking. That very moment made me rethink my line of work and my self-care. What was I doing to relax and how could I do more? Not to mention, how am I modeling self-care for my clients?

Since that time, I have made yoga a main priority for myself. Every morning for 30 minutes I practice yoga in my house or my back yard if the weather is nice. It brings my mind into focus and sets the tone for my day. Yoga is my self-care. If I don’t practice yoga every day, I feel “off”.

Yoga is more than the poses, or Asanas, that everyone thinks it is. It’s about living in your body and breathing. It’s about bringing more awareness into my body and making my body, mind and soul unite as one. It’s also about slowing things down essentially. Without it I wouldn’t be able to complete tasks and concentrate, slow down, breathe and unwind.

Watch a sunset, read a book, take a walk, or listen to music. Make it your time to do whatever it is that’s healthy and brings you joy.  Take just 15 minutes for yourself. You deserve it!

I do have time for this. Do you?

Please welcome Brandi!

I have the honor of introducing a dear friend and colleague who will be posting, Brandi Gibson.

Brandi and I met as students at the same Yoga studio. We have come to know each other very well, and are working toward an exciting collaboration (Stay Tuned!). Brandi specializes in marria and Family counseling, as well as addiction treatment.

Brandi’s first post can be found here. Please keep stopping by to read how Brandi combines her expertise as a Master’s level Counselor, Yoga Instructor as well as Reiki practioner. I’m so looking foward to her insight on these topics. Having personally been a Yoga Student of hers, I am honored for her presence here.

IARP Summer Sale

Beautiful beach landscape from Phangan island of Thailand. Palm trees over shallow sea water, idyllic beach scene. Summer holiday and vacation concept. Inspirational tropical beach.

I just treated myself to some great Reiki treats with the Reiki Product Pack Sale. Member of IARP enjoy access to resources that help you spread the word about Reiki, as well as tools to grow your business. If you are currently a Reiki Practioner, full time or part time, I highly recommend considering a membership. Please check out my affiliate link for more information on membership benefits at IARP.

Daily Inspiration for June 5th, 2019

Envision a Joyous Earth and send Reiki to the future

Today’s Inspiration from the June Reiki Rays calendar is to send Reiki to the future. Reiki practitioners know how to use distance Reiki to the future. If you are not a Reiki practitioner simply send thoughts of love to our planet.

June 12th is the next World Peace Meditation Day. Please follow the link to participate. Having done the meditation myself it feels wonderful.