As goat owners become more aware of the power of using essential oils in therapeutic practice for their goats, one of the common questions I hear is, “Is oregano essential oil safe for my pregnant goat?” I won’t give you a direct answer, but instead will provide you with the sources and research available to help you make your own decision.
So much of what we’re taught in articles and other resources is based on opinion and conjecture. If we look at the actual facts, the studies themselves, and the finer details, we can be better informed to draw the conclusions that make sense in our own lives. It’s a good policy to never trust anything on the Internet–including this blog!–without trying to verify from other sources, especially your own experiential knowledge, so let’s look at this source as part of our essential oil education.
I snapped this photo from the oregano section of the book considered to be the gold standard in the industry, Essential Oil Safety from Tisserand (aff). I highly recommend it if you work with EOs at all – I reference it at least a couple of times a month and find it to be invaluable in my work.
Oregano is generally considered contraindicated in pregnancy based on this data. It’s important to understand that the main constituent of oregano is carvacrol, so the latter part of this paragraph, while discussing another plant (summer savory), addresses the impact of the main constituent they both share. What we can’t see in this and, indeed, in many of the discussions around plant medicine, is the synergistic effects of all the plant parts, so bear that in mind when we consider scientific research which tends to isolate parts rather than take the whole plant.
The Pregnant Mice Oregano Essential Oil Experiment
These mice were fed the equivalent of 150 mg/kg of oregano essential oil daily for 2 weeks. Let’s break down the numbers for a sample goat, Nigerian Dwarf, weighing 75 pounds or 34kg.
Also according to Tisserand, 20 drops of essential oil averages .66g. .66g/20 drops = .033g per drop, or 33mg. Based on this average, we can assume oregano essential oil is pretty close to 33mg per drop, though every oil varies. Exact amounts don’t matter too much in this equation and you’ll see why when we start calculating dosing.
My general therapeutic recommendation for oregano essential oil is 1-2 drops per dose given 1-4 times daily for a maximum of 7 days. At the max dose of 2 drops given 4 times in one day, you would be administering 264mg total (33mg per drop * 8 drops = 264). If you dosed at the rate of the study, you’d be giving 5,100mg per day to our sample goat. Math: If the dosage is 150 mg/kg and each drop is approximately 33mg, that’s the equivalent of 4.5 drops per kg of body weight (150/33 = 4.54). In our sample goat weighing 34kg then, the dose equivalent to the study for one goat would be 153 drops (34kg * 4.5 drops). Fetal cell death occurred at 153 drops given every day for two weeks. My maximum therapeutic dose I feel comfortable with in my herd is 8 drops per day for no longer than 7 days.
To achieve the results of the study, you’d give:
- 153 drops of oregano essential oil per day every day for 2 weeks
The dose I recommend for therapeutic use in goats:
- 8 drops of oregano essential oil per day for no more than 7 days
Carvacrol, the Constituent of Oregano Essential Oil, and Its Effects on Pregnancy
The second part of this photo discusses carvacrol, the primary constituent of oregano (and a few other oils). To quote the Tisserand book in the section about reproductive toxicity specifically for carvacrol [emphasis mine]:
“During gestational days 0-15, pregnant rats received drinking water containing 100, 500 or 1,000 ppm of Satureja khuzestanica, an essential oil consisting of 93.9% carvacrol. There were no signs of maternal toxicity or teratogenicity [the ability to cause defects in a developing fetus] at any dose, and in the two higher dose groups there was a significant increase in the number of implantations and live fetuses.”
In the end, we must all choose the remedies and treatments we feel comfortable with. My wish is not to convince you of a path, but to help give you the tools to make the most informed decision you can. Here’s to herd health!
Continue the discussion in the Essential Oil forum.