Lavender and Tea Tree Oils May Cause Health Problems

July 11, 2018

As you may know, nature supplies us with the tools we need to have healthy, beautiful skin. So it's important to choose a natural ingredient over a synthetic one whenever you can - that's how powerful and effective they are. However, because these ingredients are so powerful, there are some that we need to use with caution.

Essential oils have become very popular in recent years, and they can do a world of good for many people. But these products aren't always appropriate for everyone. And some people simply end up with too much of a good thing.

That was the case for one of my patients, a young man who had developed male gynecomastia, or swelling of the breast tissue. It turns out that he was using lavender shampoo and conditioner as well as lavender in his pillow. It took two months to figure out what was causing this. We examined everything and finally we had him stop using the lavender products and start taking DIM (diindolylmethane - a phytochemical from cruciferous vegetables). Sure enough, the gynecomastia resolved itself.

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We usually think of lavender as simply a soothing scent. But new research shows us why lavender essential oils, among others, may not be appropriate for everyone.

According to researchers at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences who conducted a study on essential oil ingredients, some of these common products can act as endocrine disruptors. In particular, some of the chemical components that make up essential oils like lavender and tea tree oil can have estrogenic or anti-androgenic (testosterone-inhibiting) properties. This combination can contribute to gynecomastia, like my patient experienced, and other hormonal conditions, particularly in prepubescent boys. The researchers found that many of the growing number of cases of male gynecomastia have been linked to topical uses of lavender and tea tree oil, and that the condition was often resolved by discontinuing use of these products.

Lavender and tea tree oil are common in many personal care products, including shampoos and conditioners. While women are generally less bothered by these ingredients, if you're concerned about your hormone levels, you may want to avoid these oils, or at least limit them to only one product. And if you notice any problems, talk to your doctor about using DIM or other products to help balance your hormones.

To your health, naturally,


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