Essential Oils to Avoid While Pregnant or Breastfeeding

Just because something is natural doesn’t necessarily mean it’s alway safe.

This is especially true when it comes to essential oils.

While essential oils can provide numerous benefits to everyday living such as promoting proper immune function, soothing regular aches and pains, encouraging a restful nights sleep, and more — when used incorrectly, or during certain periods in our lives when we should take extra precaution (i.e.; pregnancy, breastfeeding, childhood, with special medical conditions), we can quickly run into some serious trouble.

By their very nature, essential oils are organic substances which not only have the ability to cross the placental barrier during pregnancy, but also have the potential to cross over into your milk supply (and possibly even decrease it) during lactation. (source, source)

What this means…

Essential oils should absolutely only be used with extreme care while pregnant or breastfeeding as they can potentially cause harm to a developing fetus or infant since the ability to clear essential oils from their systems is impaired due to an underdeveloped capacity for metabolism and renal excretion. (source)

Knowing which oils are safest to use, which ones should be completely avoided, how to safely use them, and more are all key factors in assuring your own safety and the safety of your little one(s) while venturing into the wonderful world of EOs.

For a more complete list on the safest essential oils to use during pregnancy and lactation, please click here: Safe Essential Oils to Use While Pregnant or Breastfeeding


According to Robert Tisserand, author of Essential Oil Safety, the following essential oils should be avoided completely (through topical application, diffusion, steam inhalation etc.) while pregnant and breastfeeding:

  • Anise, Pimpinella anisum
  • Anise (star), Illicium verum
  • Araucaria, Neocallitropsis pancheri
  • Artemisia vestita, Artemisia vestita
  • Atractylis, Atractyllodes lancea
  • Birch (sweet), Betula lenta
  • Black seed, Nigella sativa
  • Buchu (diosphenol CT), Agathosma betulina ct. diosphenol
  • Buchu (pulegone CT), Agathosma crenulara ct. pulegone
  • Calamint (lesser), Calamintha nepeta
  • Carrot seed, Daucus carota
  • Cassia, Cinnamomum cassia
  • Chaste tree, Vitex agnus castus
  • Cinnamon bark, Cinnamomum verum
  • Costus, Saussurea costus
  • Cypress (blue), Callitris intratropica
  • Dill seed (Indian), Anethum sowa
  • Fennel (bitter), Foeniculum vulgare
  • Fennel (sweet), Foeniculum vulgare
  • Feverfew, Tanacetum parthenium
  • Genipi, Artemisia genepi
  • Hibawood, Thujopsis dolobrata
  • Ho leaf (camphor CT), Cinnamomum camphora ct. camphor
  • Hyssop (pinocamphone CT), Hyssopus officinalis ct. pinocamphone
  • Lanyana, Artemisia afra
  • Lavender (Spanish), Lavandula stoechas
  • Mugwort (common, camphor/thujone CT), Artemisia vulgaris ct. camphor/thujone
  • Mugwort (common, chrysanthenyl acetate CT), Artemisia vulgaris ct. chrysanthenyl acetate
  • Mugwort (great), Artemisia arborescens
  • Myrrh, Commiphora myrrah
  • Myrtle (aniseed), Backhousia anisata
  • Oregano, Origanum vulgare
  • Parsley leaf, Petroselinum crispum
  • Parsleyseed, Petroselinum crispum
  • Pennyroyal, Hedeoma pulegioides, Mentha pulegium
  • Rue, Ruta graveolens
  • Sage (Dalmation), Salvia officinalis
  • Sage (Spanish), Salvia lavandulifolia
  • Savin, Juniperus sabina
  • Tansy, Tanacetum vulgare
  • Thuja, Thuja occidentalis
  • Western red cedar, Thuja plicata
  • Wintergreen, Gaultheria fragrantissim
  • Wormwood (all chemotypes), Artemisia absinthium
  • Wormwood (sea), Artemisia maritime
  • Wormwood (white), Artemisia herba-alba
  • Yarrow (green), Achillea nobilis
  • Zedoary, Curcuma zedoaria


Use of the following essential oils should ALWAYS be restricted during pregnancy and breastfeeding. The maximum dilution recommendation is based on using once-daily, whole body application.

My professional recommendation: I would err on the side of caution and try to find a safer alternative for the following essential oils to use while pregnant or breastfeeding.

  • Basil (lemon), Ocimum x citriodorum
    • Max dilution is 1.4% (17 drops in 4 tbps of carrier oil)
  • Boswellia papyrifera –
    • Max dilution is 1.7% (10 drops in 2 tbsp carrier oil)
  • Champaca (orange) absolute, Michelia champaca
    • Max dilution is 17.5% (105 drops in 2 tbsp carrier oil)
  • Lemon balm (Australian), Eucalyptus staigeriana
    • Max dilution is 3.4% (41 drops in 4 tbsp carrier oil)
  • Lemon leaf, Citrus x limon
    • Max dilution is 1.2% (7 drops in 2 tbsp carrier oil)
  • Lemongrass, Cymbopogon citratus
    • Max dilution is 0.7% (4 drops in 2 tbsp carrier oil)
  • Lemon Tea tree, Leptospermum peteronii
    • Max dilution is 0.8% (5 drops in 2 tbsp carrier oil)
  • May chang, Litsea cubeba
    • Max dilution is 0.8% (5 drops in 2 tbsp carrier oil)
  • Melissa, Melissa officinals
    • Max dilution is 0.9% (11 drops in 4 tbsp carrier oil)
  • Myrtle (honey), Maleleuca teretifolia
    • Max dilution is 0.9% (11 drops in 4 tbsp carrier oil)
  • Myrtle (lemon), Backhousia citriodora
    • Max dilution is 0.7% (4 drops in 2 tbsp carrier oil)
  • Nasturtium absolute, Tropaeolum majus
    • Max dilution is 0.26% (3 drops in 4 tbsp carrier oil)
  • Thyme (lemon), Thymus lanuginosus var. citriodorum
    • Max dilution is 3.7% (22 drops in 2 tbsp carrier oil)
  • Verbena (lemon), Aloysia citriodora
    • Max dilution is 0.9% (~11 drops in 4 tbsp carrier oil)


Essential Oil Safety, Robert Tisserand

NOTE: The above lists might not be exhaustive. Please always check any essential oil you’re about to use for any possible contraindications & proper application guidelines.




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