As I was doing research on Lavender essential oil for my next EO Info post, I was informed that it “causes early puberty” and I “should never use it around (my) kids”.
Being the lavender lover that I am (it is the oil I use the most), I was very surprised (and skeptical) about this. I’ve been researching and using oils for years. The information I share here comes from certified aromatherapists and experts in essential oil usage and safety. How could I not have heard about this?!
The report this person was referring to is in a 2007 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. (Which explains why I knew nothing about it, as I was not using essential oils 11 years ago…) It “conclude(s) that repeated topical exposure to lavender and tea tree oils probably caused prepubertal gynecomastia (breast growth) in these boys.”
I have a few concerns about this “conclusion”:
- The report only had three case studies, which seems like a very small number of cases to make such a big assumption.
- While the in-vitro studies they did in conjunction with the case studies show a “weak estrogenic” effect, is this an accurate portrayal of the effect of on a warm-blooded human?
- Each of the three boys used a product “containing Lavender oil” (healing balm, styling gel/shampoo, soap/lotion). What other chemicals (Parabens, Phthalates, etc.) were in those products?
- There has not been another study replicating these results in a medical publication in the past 10 years (to my knowledge). In fact, this 2013 study involving topical application of pure lavender oil and rats concluded there was “no evidence of estrogenic activity”.
As it turns out, the report has been widely criticized over the years. In 2013, Robert Tisserand (who has been studying the safety of essential oils for over 40 years) wrote a detailed explanation of the report, and in it, states that “any connection with either lavender or tea tree oil is unproven.”
Based on the information I currently have, I don’t feel like there is enough evidence against lavender essential oil for me to stop using it on my children. But, this should serve as a reminder that essential oils are relatively new to mainstream society, and there are very few long term studies regarding their safety. It is up to you to do your own research and make the best decision for your family.
Disclaimer: The information contained on The Practically Green Mom represents the choices I have made to take charge of my own health and that of my family. Statements on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products on this site are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your physician before using these products.