Use essential oils with caution: some contain endocrine disruptors
A new study has found that lavender oil and tea tree oil contain endocrine disruptors, and their use has been linked to the abnormal development of breast tissue in young boys.
Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interfere with the normal production and function of hormones.
Essential oils are generally regarded as pleasant and beneficial, or at least harmless; but they do contain a variety of chemical compounds, and some of those may have effects on our bodies that we don’t intend, and which are not beneficial. The growth of breasts on young boys is one such effect.
The report of the Endocrine Society notes that the young boys in question had been using topical applications of lavender oil and/or tea tree oil on a regular basis, and that when they stopped using the essential oils, the breast development also stopped.
Researchers at the US National Institute of Health Sciences had already found evidence that tea tree oil and lavender oil both have estrogen-like properties and testosterone-inhibiting properties. Estrogenic chemicals and anti-androgenic chemicals like these interfere with the normal hormones that determine male characteristics in boys, and can interfere with puberty.
The researchers isolated and analyzed eight of the many chemicals that make up lavender and tea tree oil; four of the chemicals appeared in both oils, and another four sometimes appeared in one or the other. The four chemicals found in both lavender oil and tea tree oil are (readers may find some of these named on labels of some products): eucalyptol, 4-terpineol, dipentene (also known as limonene), and alpha-terpineol.
They conducted test-tube experiments to gauge the hormone-disrupting effects, and found varying levels of estrogenic and/or anti-androgenic activity, ranging from high to low or negligible. They concluded that lavender oil and tea tree oil “pose potential environmental health concerns and should be tested further.”
Until further testing is done, parents of young boys (or even older boys) may consider refraining from using lavender oil or tea tree oil products on young male children, and advising older ones to avoid such products. Men who’d like to avoid growing “man-boobs” can also consider eliminating lavender oil and tea tree oil from their personal-care routines. And perhaps other essential oils too: the researchers noted that many of the chemicals they tested are also components of at least 65 other essential oils.
Essential oils are not regulated. There’s an old saying: “caveat emptor” which means, “buyer beware.” Be aware, and consider your needs before deciding to use essential oils, and how to use them. They may be perfectly fine for girls and women, especially used in moderation. But not so fine for boys and men.
Source: Science Daily https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180318144856.htm