Essential Oils – How to Use Them Safely – Eye Safety and Use in Pregnancy
In part one of this series on essential oils safety, I revealed why I am so concerned about the misinformation on the use of essential oils that is so prevalent in our internet age. In part one, I covered skin safety, the first of four areas with which you need to be concerned as a user of essential oils. In this article, we will look at eye safety, use in pregnancy and then conclude in part three with a wrap up of general safety considerations.
Eye Safety and Essential Oils
Let’s talk about eye safety first. There have been a few reports of information available on the internet advocating the use of certain essential oils instilled directly into the eyes to treat various eye conditions. My professional advice is to never put any essential oil directly into your eyes, even if the oil is diluted. There have been reports of corneal burns resulting in serious chemical damage to the eyes of people who used essential oils for eye problems.
There is some evidence that an ointment made with Tea tree oil has been effective in treating eyelash mites, but again, you would have to be extremely careful about not getting any of this ointment into your eyes. I would advise against such use.
Essential Oils During Pregnancy
Let’s turn our attention now to the use of essential oils in pregnancy. As you may know, the first three months (the first trimester) of fetal development is a very sensitive period for the developing child and exposure to toxic substances in this vulnerable developmental period places the infant at risk of being born with a birth defect or in the worst cases, the death of the fetus.
Essential oils used by the mother in cosmetics, lotions or in massage oil may pass their constituent chemicals over the placenta to the developing fetus. However, just because an oil crosses over the placenta, does not mean it is certain to cause harm. The effect would depend on the type of oil as well as the concentration.
To my knowledge, there have been no reported cases of fetal abnormalities, fetal abortions or other problems with the standard use of essential oils, such as a drop or two in the occasional bath or inhalation via an aromatherapy diffuser. Reports of toxicity to the fetus resulted in the pregnant woman deliberately trying to abort the fetus by ingesting large amounts of certain essential oils, particularly pennyroyal oil and parsley seed oil.
These essential oils should not be used at all during pregnancy: wormwood, rue, oak moss, Lavandula stoechas, camphor, parsley seed, sage, and hyssop oil. And I would also advise that during the first trimester of pregnancy, all essential oils in any form should be avoided.
These oils are generally considered to be safe for use during pregnancy: cardamon, German and Roman chamomile, frankincense, geranium, ginger, neroli, patchouli, petitgrain, rosewood, rose and sandalwood. Even these should be avoided in the first trimester and should not be used undiluted on the skin or taken internally.
We will cover general safety guidelines in another article to wrap up this series on the safe use of essential oils.