Can essential oils improve overall health during the first trimester?2019-10-08T17:23:40+00:00

Project Description


Aromatherapy is one of the most commonly used forms of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) during pregnancy, yet fewer than 15 indexed clinical trials exist in the scientific literature evaluating the effects of aromatherapy during pregnancy. Furthermore, half of those studies are focused on labor and delivery rather than quality of life during the pregnancy itself.

While folklore abounds, pregnant women deserve evidence. Which essential oils improve quality of life and which oils may actually worsen the wellbeing of a woman during this time of increased sensitivity to aromas and scents? Our research team is addressing that question by evaluating the effects of multiple essential oils used in aromatherapy treatments during the critical first trimester.

This 2-year research project began Fall 2017 and is expected to be completed late 2019. The total cost of the project is $135,000, which is funded by the Franklin School of Integrative Health Sciences and through generous individual donors. The project is 80% funded as of April 2019.

At a Glance:

Fewer than 15

aromatherapy clinical trials


in indexed scientific journals, and half of those are in regards to labor and delivery.

1 in 5

pregnant women

are given

pharmaceuticals to treat nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy.


is the total cost

This Study

for this entire 2-year clinical trial research project.

Less than 10%

of existing drugs

have sufficient

safety and efficacy data to be used in pregnancy, according to the FDA.


pregnant women

will participate

in this clinical trial which evaluates multiple essential oils.

Questions about the study:

What kind of study is this?2019-04-18T19:23:29+00:00

This is a multi-arm randomized controlled clinical trial (RCT) measuring the effects of essential oil inhalation via topical application on overall quality of life in the first trimester, including nausea and vomiting.

This trial is the largest aromatherapy study to be conducted on this subject and evaluates not only immediate effects, but also accumulated effects from aromatherapy exposure.

What kind of oils are you using?2019-06-19T15:23:23+00:00

The oils for this study are organic and were purchased from Eden Botanicals in Petaluma, CA. This study was not commissioned by the essential oil company and is funded exclusively through the Franklin School of Integrative Health Sciences and the support of generous donors. Specifics about the oils and exposures will be available after the study has concluded.

Is it safe to study aromatherapy on pregnant women?2019-04-18T19:29:40+00:00

It’s smart to be cautious about using essential oils during pregnancy as this time of enhanced vulnerability requires expertise and oversight. That’s why research on aromatherapy in pregnancy is desperately needed and why a trained and qualified research team is the only solution.

Every member of our research team is fully trained and certified in the ethics of human participant research and our research protocol has been evaluated for safety and ethics by an independent review board as required by law. This enables our supporters and our participants to be confident that every care has been taken to prioritize the health of our participants. Thanks to studies such as this one, the knowledge about aromatherapy during pregnancy will be much greater tomorrow than it is today!


Innovation in integrative health holds potential to dramatically change lives and improve health worldwide. See how you can get involved and start making a difference.