Have you heard lavender oil may cause breast swelling in young boys? Are you worried about using it on your son?
The Cause of All the Concern:
Yes, there is an article1 published on PubMed.gov2 that has linked use of lavender and tea tree oils to gynecomastia (breast swelling) in young boys (prepubertal). The article, published in 2007, created a media frenzy and has launched many citations in articles and websites petitioning for caution by all. Oh my gosh! The internet wizards said it was true! Wait, but these are doctors, so it HAS to be true…or does it? Let’s review the information.
Debunking the Myth:
- The article1 has a significant number of response comments in the New England Journal of Medicine citing “the evidence in the three case studies by Henley et al. does not support their conclusion.”
- A response article3 was created entitled “Lack of evidence that essential oils affect puberty” and was published in the journal of Reproductive Toxicology and made publically available (see Reference 4). In this article, it cites an earlier unpublished work entitled “Tea Tree and Lavender Not Linked to Gynecomastia” that’s worth a read as well (see Reference 5).
- The lavender and tea tree oil was not conclusively found to be the cause of the gynecomastia in the three cases cited. The article1 itself stated “…prepubertal gynecomastia is extremely uncommon…” and “…the condition may be caused by exposure to an environmental chemical that disrupts the endocrine system…” “Other components in [the products used by the boys in the three cited examples] may also possess endocrine-disrupting activity that contributed to the gynecomastia, but those components were not tested…”
- The tests performed used an artificial (man-made) chemical version of the lavender and tea tree oils and did not provide conclusive evidence that these oils contributed to the hormonal misbalance of estrogen or androgen cited as the suspected cause in the study.
- “For all experiments, the lavender oil (L. officinalis…) and tea tree oil…(both from Sigma Chemical) were diluted in dimethylsulfoxide before they were added to culture media.”1
- The oils were diluted in dimethylsulfoxide “and cultured in polystyrene plates, both of which are well known to modulate [v. to alter or adapt according to the circumstances; to cause the amplitude or intensity to vary] both estrogens and androgens.”6
- The authors1 state “…we suspect that repeated topical application of over-the-counter products containing lavender oil or tea tree oil was the cause of gynecomastia in the three patients.” “Until epidemiologic studies are performed to determine the prevalence of gynecomastia associated with exposure to lavender oil and tea tree oil, we suggest that the medical community should be aware of the possibility of endocrine disruption and should caution patients about repeated exposure to any products containing these oils.” This confirms that they are not confident in their findings, as well as the many responses to the article exhibiting the same skepticism.
- The article was published under the bias of a pharmaceutical-backed entity (“…the NEJM is supported financially by drug company advertisements.”)7. In addition, the research was sponsored by at least six drug companies1,7. Why would such entities back this article? A reasonable-minded person can make the only logical conclusion: to further push pharmaceuticals and induce fear in the public’s mind regarding natural remedies (aka their competition)!
Conclusions & Other Comments:
There has not been a single case of gynecomastia reported with the use of Young Living’s Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) or Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) essential oils. “Lavender and tea tree oils are two of the most popular essential oils in the world, having been used for centuries and applied by millions. If they were problematic in upsetting the hormonal balance of pre-puberty boys, why was this not noticed before , decades or even centuries ago?”7
As a highly educated person, you can make your own conclusions given the information above. However, for me and my house, I rest peacefully at night knowing that Young Living’s Seed to Seal™ guarantee, quality and purity of therapeutic grade essential oils, and proven track record leave me nothing to worry about (for me or my two prepubertal boys).
1Derek V. Henley, Ph.D., Natasha Lipson, M.D., Kenneth S. Korach, Ph.D., and Clifford A. Bloch, M.D. (2007). Prepubertal Gynecomastia Linked to Lavender and Tea Tree Oils. N Engl J Med 2007; 356:479-485. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa064725
2Henley DV, Lipson N, Korach KS, Bloch CA. Prepubertal gynecomastia linked to lavender and tea tree oils. N Engl J Med. 2007 Feb 1;356(5):479-85. PubMed PMID: 17267908. Retrieved March 10, 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17267908
3Carson CF, Tisserand R, Larkman T. Lack of evidence that essential oils affect puberty. Reprod Toxicol. 2014 Apr;44:50-1. DOI: 10.1016/j.reprotox.2013.09.010. Epub 2014 Feb 17. PubMed PMID: 24556344. Retrieved March 10, 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24556344
4Carson CF, Tisserand R, Larkman T. (2013). Lack Of Evidence That Essential Oils Affect Puberty. Retrieved March 10, 2016, from https://rtisserand.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Lack-Of-Evidence-That-Essential-Oils-Affect-Puberty.pdf
5Tisserand R. (2008). Tea Tree and Lavender Not Linked to Gynecomastia. Retrieved March 10, 2016, from https://rtisserand.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/TeaTreeAndLavenderNotLinkedToGynecomastia.pdf
6Elmore Lindsey (aka “The Farmacist”). (2015). Lavender oil and Breast Swelling in Young Boys: Should I be concernced? Retrieved March 10, 2016, from https://www.thefarmacistalabama.com/blog/
7Stewart D. (2007). Medical Journal says Lavender and Tea Tree Pose Risks: Are They Right? Or Wrong? Retrieved March 10, 2016 from https://www.raindroptraining.com/messenger/v5n1.html#medical
Key Search Terms: Lavender, Tea Tree, Essential Oil Myths, Young Boys, Kids, Breast Swelling, Boobs
Learn more about the author Emilie Garrelts here.