The oil extracted from oregano leaves has numerous health benefits. These include alleviating skin problems like athlete's foot, eczema and acne; fighting against infection; and treating colds, sore throats and sinus problems. However, oil of oregano does have some side effects, making it risky for pregnant women. It is also a very strong essential oil, and when administered incorrectly, can burn the throat or skin.
For pregnant women—as well as the rest of the population—oil of oregano can have excellent health benefits if administered correctly.
Oil of oregano is particularly beneficial to the immune system and the joints. In pregnant women, it's important to keep the immune system functioning fully to fight infection for both mother and baby, as well as your joints healthy, which loosen during pregnancy, making expecting mothers susceptible to joint problems.
However, most health care providers will agree that the risks of taking oil of oregano during pregnancy outweigh the benefits. In fact, taking oil of oregano when you're pregnant can put your pregnancy at risk.
Oil of oregano is a powerful emmenagogue, meaning that it naturally promotes menstrual flow and activity. Any agent that promotes menstrual flow during pregnancy should be avoided, since this could put the fetus at risk for losing the protective lining that surrounds it in the womb.
Oil of oregano also inhibits the body's ability to absorb iron. During pregnancy, it's crucial to have sufficient iron in your body, as to create sufficient hemoglobin, build the placenta and nourish your baby's growth. In fact, many doctors recommend that pregnant women supplement their diet with iron; therefore, any agent that inhibits iron absorption should be avoided.
If you're pregnant and want the benefits of oil of oregano without the risks, there are several other essential oils you can take as an alternative. Thyme and marjoram oils have similar properties to oregano oil, without the risky side effects.
If you're looking for an essential oil to boost immune system function, try lavender, lemon or tea tree oils. Eucalyptus, lavender and marjoram essential oils help with joints and mobility. Try chamomille or cejepu oil to aid with respiratory problems, colds and sore throats.
Always speak to your doctor before taking an essential oil supplement, particularly if you're pregnant, and avoid oils known to promote or regulate the menstrual cycle or lower iron levels in the body. Essential oils can be a powerful tool for health; in the same vein, they can be detrimental if taken incorrectly.
Keith Stelling, a health expert for alive.com, warns against taking oil of oregano during pregnancy due to the fact that it can induce premature uterine contractions. He notes that other essential oils—sage and cedar—can have similar effects and should also be avoided during pregnancy.