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Aromatherapy in Pregnancy

Aromatherapy in Pregnancy

People get very concerned about the use of aromatherapy and essential oils during pregnancy. Some, including some aromatherapists, even advise not to use any essential oils at all. I personally think that is a bit extreme, and also a great pity, as many essential oils can be quite useful in helping the prospective mum through this time.

There are a number of reasons that the area of aromatherapy and pregnancy has become the subject of so much concern. And often people are left not knowing what, if anything they can use.

Essential oils listed as “Not to use in Pregnancy” fall into 3 basic groups

  • Oils which are toxic or otherwise dangerous and should be avoided at all times, even when not pregnant. These include bitter almond, arnica, boldo, broom, buchu, calamus, brown & yellow camphor, cassia, chervil, cinnamon bark, costus, deertongue, elecampane, bitter fennel, horseradish, jaborandi, melitotus, mugwort, mustard, oregano, pennyroyal, dwarf pine, rue, common sage, santolina, sassafras, savin, southernwood, savory, tansy, thuja, tonka, wintergreen, wormseed, wormwood.
  • Other oils which require caution for anyone using them (again not just during pregnancy) include ajowan, aniseed and star anise, some types of basil, bay,white camphor, carrot seed, some types of cedarwood, cinnamon leaf, clove (leaf and bud), coriander, cumin, eucalyptus, sweet fennel, hops, hyssop, juniper, lemongrass, nutmeg, parsley, black pepper, Spanish sage, tagetes, tarragon, thyme, tuberose, turmeric, turpentine, valerian.
  • Commonly used oils which are normally safe but may have adverse effects when pregnant. These include angelica, basil, birch, calamintha, cedarwood, celery seed, citronella, clary sage, cypress, jasmine, labdanum, lovage, marjoram, melissa, myrrh, nutmeg, parsley, peppermint, rosemary, yarrow.

In addition there are some oils which are usually to be avoided in the first trimester, particularly if there is a history or risk of miscarriage, such as roman chamomile, geranium, lavender and rose. The first category should always be avoided, but in the main are not readily available anyway. The second should only be considered under the advice of a professionally qualified aromatherapist and generally used in very limited amounts and/or for a limited period of time.

But why do some oils only become a risk during pregnancy? Well, some of these oils are emmenogogues and have a stimulating effect on the uterus. Some affect the hormones or have too strong an effect on a particular organ or system of the body. We also do not yet know to what extent oils used by the mother may affect the developing fetus, so any oils which may be too strong for the child should be avoided.

This amount of caution is also required because the quality of essential oils can vary widely in the marketplace. But under the guidance of a qualified aromatherapist, great benefits can be gained by using some essential oils during pregnancy.

Another thing to bear in mind is how & how much oil you use.

Never take essential oils internally. Always, but always, dilute essential oils before applying them to the skin. Never apply them neat to the skin. If you are pregnant, adapt any recipes by cutting down the number of drops to child sized doses, around half of that for an adult. This softens the effect and also takes account of the fact that when pregnant, a woman’s sense of smell is often more acute, so full strength may seem overpowering.  For example if a recipe suggests 5 drops in 10 mls of carrier oil, then use only 2-3 drops. Less is often more in aromatherapy!

Essential oils used in vaporiser will carry much less risk than any applied directly to the body, whether in a carrier oil, in a bath or as a compress. But still err on the side of caution regarding how much you use.

Some useful and safe remedies for pregnancy:

  • Nausea – put 2-3 drops of ginger or spearmint oil on a tissue and inhale.
  • Oedema (swelling of hands and/or feet) – put 4-6 drops of one of the following oils in a foot or hand bath (sweet orange, geranium, grapefruit) and soak
  • Indigestion – dilute 1 drop of spearmint essential oil in 1 teaspoon of sweet almond oil and massage into the abdomen in clockwise direction.

Other oils that are generally safe to use include, lemon, sweet orange, mandarin, frankincense, lavender, sandalwood and tea tree.

Always ensure that you are using true essential oils rather than synthetic or fragrance oils.

If you have a personal or family history of miscarriage or your have been advised that your pregnancy is in any way fragile, please seek advice from a professional aromatherapist regarding your particular situation before using essential oils. Professional advice is a good idea for anyone contemplating the use of aromatherapy but especially so in pregnancy. And always let your health practitioner, doctor, midwife or obstetrician know about anything you are using or proposing to use.

This information is meant as general advice.  Please consult your health practitioner or a qualified aromatherapist for advice on your specific situation).

Wendy Mackay is a qualified Aromatherapist and member of the International Aromatherapy and Aromatic Medicine Association (IAAMA). Wendy and her husband David run Essence of Well-being a successful Aromatherapy & Massage Supply and Pure Natural Skin Care business, based in Mornington on the beautiful Mornington Peninsula in Victoria Australia.
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Australian Essential Oil Native History

Australian Indigenous Settlement

Australian Essential Oil History
Tribute to  Traditional Owners – First, Native Nation

Contrary to the world’s belief and the little known fact, Australian Indigenous – Aboriginal peoples had the first natural medicine trading industry in Australia. They taught our early settlers how to use their medicine to heal wounds, colds, sore muscles, skin problems and very beneficial insect repellants.
Our traditional people were the first in the world to have used essential oils. Seven thousand years before the Egyptians.  Dated and recorded, yet not acknowledged, as promised, by our government.

Recorded evidence and around 4,000 artefacts were given by the Bundjalung People around Coraki in NSW.  This  substantially proved they actually distilled and traded TEA TREE up and down the east coast of Australia, with other traditional peoples using other essential oils, such as many different Eucalyptus Oils.  Our Tea Tree Oil  along with Eucalyptus oil, are still in the Top 5 medicinal oils in the world. May I repeat: Seven thousand years before the Egyptians.

Continue reading Australian Essential Oil Native History

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Aromatherapy Brief History

Although the term Aromatherapy was not coined until the late 1920s, the roots of this widely used method of plant-based therapy run deep throughout our history.

EgyptiansThe use of essential oils dates back at least one thousand years, though humankind has used aromatic plants for incense, medicine and perfumery for thousands of years.

It is believed that the Egyptians invented the first distillation equipment, albeit rudimentary, and created oils infused with herbs for use in rituals, medicine, cosmetics, and perfumery.

 

 

 

 

australian-indigenous-settlementContrary to belief it is documented that Indigenous Australians were using essential oils at least 2,000 years prior to the Egyptians.
Artefacts handed to the Australian Government were scientifically tested and proved this finding. The original landowners of Australia were to be credited by this discovery and proof results. Alas the Government did not honour their commitment.
We are grateful for our Indigenous peoples for handing down their knowledge of our healing trees, for their treatments and ceremony that continues today.

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Years later Hippocrates (commonly referred to as the “Father of Medicine”) studied the effects of essential oils on health,
and promoted their use for medicinal benefits.

 

 

 

 

Fast forward a few hundred years, and a painful burn experienced by French chemist René-Maurice Gatttefossé gave birth to the word commonly used to describe the use of essential oils gattefossetoday – Aromatherapy. While working in his laboratory, Gatttefossé quenched a bad burn when, out of reflex, he plunged his arm into the nearest liquid, a vat of Lavender oil. He was amazed by how quickly the burn healed, and without scarring. This piqued his interest in essential oils even further, and through his study and definitive writings on the subject, Gatttefossé is now remembered as one of the pioneers of Aromatherapy. In 1937 he published the book, Aromathérapie: Les Huiles essentielles hormones végétales (later translated into English as Gatttefosse’s Aromatherapy), which is still in print today.

 

Dr. Jean Valnet

 

 

Other notable Aromatherapists who helped lay the foundation for modern practice are Dr. Jean Valnet, who used aromatherapy to treat soldiers during WWII, and is also known for his book (originally published in French),

 

 

 

1961-mdm-maury

 

The Practice of Aromatherapy; Madame Marguerite Maury, an Austrian biochemist who brought aromatherapy into the world of cosmetics and developed their use in massage.

 

 

 

RobertTiss-book

 

Robert B. Tisserand, an English Aromatherapist recognized for bringing aromatherapy to English speaking populations, and for writing the first aromatherapy book published in English in 1977, The Art of Aromatherapy.

 

aromatherapy-others-worth-mentioning

 

 

Today we have many talented Aromatherapists around the world who study this art for a variety of reasons – to treat the physical body medicinally and promote well-being, cosmetically to create healthier skin, for natural perfumery, and to balance the emotions. Whatever brings you into this wonderfully fragrant world, we hope you enjoy it.