Do Lavender & Tea Tree Oils Mimic Hormones?

By Kristie Turck •  Published 09/09/09 •  2 min read

lavenderI had heard a while ago that both lavender and tea tree oils can be estrogenic and cause breast tissue to develop in young boys. An article floated around about a study done in the New England Journal of Medicine regarding a case of 3 boys who developed gynecomastia and apparently all had one thing in common: They all used bath products containing lavender and tea tree.  Our favorite ingredients expert Stephanie gives us a fair look at this one (and apparently only) study conducted.

From Stephanie’s Bubble & Bee Blog:

“…what other estrogen mimickers were present in these products used on the young boys? Parabens? Phthalates? The ingredients are not documented and could be a number of things–even from using bottles made with BPA.

But what about the laboratory tests they did on petri dishes of human cells? If you look carefully at their study, you’ll notice they didn’t apply pure lavender or tea tree essential oil on the cells they were testing, they used a solvent to dilute the oils. The solvent is dimethylsulfoxide—which, as it turns out, is an estrogen mimicker! (as documented here.)”

Just like with evidence on any ingredient, there is always two sides to the argument and usually you can’t just take the word of one study.  My personal stance on the use of lavender and tea tree is that it’s perfectly safe – or at least a FAR safer choice than something containing chemicals that may or may not be contaminated with carcinogens.  The evidence showing phthalates or BPA to mimic estrogen is stacked much higher than one unusual report.

But if you’re concerned about these or any ingredient just use your head and don’t use a ton of it!  There are an abundance of baby products containing lavender since its a calming pleasant safe oil, but its not the only option.  I’ve found tons of baby products that are unscented or use citrus or chamomile and work just as well.  A little lavender here and there isn’t going to make your baby grow breasts but following the “moderation” rule (less is more!) with ALL skin care is best.

Thank you Stephanie for addressing that issue!