Does Lavender Essential Oil Mimic Estrogen?
On several occasions clients have expressed concerns about lavender or tea tree essential oil effects on hormones. There have been concerns that those essential oils cause prepubertal gynecomastia or act in estrogenic ways.
When it comes to essential oils I typically look to noted professionals in the field and governing organizations. While essential oils are not regulated by the FDA there are many professionals, scientific studies, and organizations that work to oversee the safe use of aromatherapy and essential oils.
Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young co-authored a book "Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Professionals" to support the safe use of essential oils based on research.
Likewise organizations like the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) and the Alliance of International Aromatherapists (AIA) work to support and educate both professionals and essential oil and aromatherapy enthusiasts about the safe use of essential oils.
As with all wellness choices it is up to each of us to make the best well informed decisions we can about how we approach health and wellness. For aromatherapy there are many opinions but I look to the science based opinions of leaders and organizations in the field of aromatherapy.
When clients ask about lavender being estrogenic I refer to noted aromatherapy authority Robert Tisserand who states:
"Lavender oil does not mimic estrogen nor does it enhance the body’s own estrogens. It is therefore not a ‘hormone disruptor’, cannot cause breast growth in young boys (or girls of any age), and is safe to use by anyone at risk for estrogen-dependent cancer." (1)
Concerns about lavender and tea tree were raised by reports of estrogenic activity in a study done in 2007 by Henley et al that found that both lavender and tea tree oils had a weak in vitro estrogenic action. (2)
Additionally a 2007 report suggested lavender and tea tree in body care products was the cause of several cases of prepubertal gynecomastia (breast growth) in boys. (3)
A newer report however indicates a lack of estrogenic action by lavender involved the use of a novel form of ‘uterotrophic’ assay.
The assay measures a test substances effects on the uterus of immature or estrogen-deprived female rats over three days. Estrogenic activity results in rapid and measurable increases in uterine weight.
In use since the 1930s it is currently regarded as a "benchmark animal assay for estrogenic effects" . Using this assay Polintano et. al investigated the estrogenic activity of lavender using 4% and 20% dilutions of lavender in corn oil. (4)
According to Politano et al 2013, this is respectively 6,000 and 30,000 times greater than a conservative estimate of human skin exposure from body care products containing lavender oil.
Politano and her team concluded, "Based on these data, lavender oil, at dosages of 20 or 100 mg/kg, was not active in the rat uterotrophic assay and gave no evidence of estrogenic activity".(4)
Along similar lines NAHA states: " It is NAHA's position that until proven otherwise, these oils (lavender and tea tree) are safe for use as long as NAHA's Safety Guidelines such as proper dilution are followed." (5)
NAHA noted studies that concluded: "did not find evidence to support the claim that tea tree essential oil is related to endocrine disruption in children, and little to no evidence to substantiate the proposed link between lavender essential oil and endocrine disruption in children."
NAHA is also partnering with the Franklin School of Integrative Health Sciences’ Research Department to further investigate the proposed link between lavender and tea tree essential oils and endocrine disruption.
A systematic review of the literature by Jesse Hawkins et. al, likewise did NOT support lavender or tea tree as endocrine disrupters. (6)
Essential oils are powerful therapeutic tools that must be used safely and we each must make informed choices as to how and which essential oils we use.
My aim in this blog post is to alert readers to some of the noted experts and organizations in the field of aromatherapy that may help those seeking natural solutions evaluate the safe use of essential oils.
There are definitely many essential oils that are NOT recommended for use during pregnancy and breastfeeding and much research and information available on the safe use of essential oils.
Be informed and be safe.
Aromatic blessings my friends,
Robert Tisserand Website: Lavender Essential Oil is Not Estronogeic, Accessed March 26, 2021 from: https://roberttisserand.com/2013/02/lavender-oil-is-not-estrogenic/
Henley DV, Lipson N, Korach KS, Bloch CA 2007 Prebubertal gynecomastia linked to lavender and tea tree oils. New England Journal of Medicine 365(5): 479-485
Dean CJ 2007 Prepubertal gynecomastia linked to lavender and tea tree oils. New England Journal of Medicine 356:2543-2544
Uterotrophic assay of percutaneous lavender oil in immature female rats Valerie T Politano 1, Danielle McGinty, Elise M Lewis, Alan M Hoberman, Mildred S Christian, Robert M Diener, Anne Marie Api International Journal of Toxicology Mar-Apr 2013;32(2):123 - 9.doi: 10.1177/1091581812472209.Epub 2013 Jan 28.
National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy Website: Lavender & Tea Tree Oils As Potential Endocrine Disruptors Accessed from: https://naha.org/explore-aromatherapy/safety/gynecomastia-puberty on March 26, 2021
Jessie Hawkins, Christy Hires, Elizabeth Dunne, Colby Baker Complementary Therapies in Medicine Volume 49, March 2020, 102288 The relationship between lavender and tea tree essential oils and pediatric endocrine disorders: A systematic review of the literature
I understand that the Food and Drug Administration has not evaluated the therapeutic suggestions or any statements made on this website about essential oils, carriers or other products offered by Aromatherapy by Tricia Ambroziak (ABT)
The statements made on this website are for educational purposes and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
The data on this website is not considered complete and is not guaranteed to be accurate.
Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking treatment based on something you've read or accessed through this website. Tricia Ambroziak is a professional aromatherapist but not a licensed health care professional.
I understand that essential oils and aromatherapy are not a substitute for professional medical care. I understand that the products being sold by ABT are not intended to diagnose, treat or prevent any disease.