Monday, February 05, 2007

The Side Effect of Lavender and Tea Tree Oil?

Recently, there has been an outrage that prepubescent boys using products containing Lavender or Tea Tree Oil products will produce enlarged breast. This is as reported in issue of New England Journal of Medicine published on 1st of February 2007. As this is a rather recent discovery, the exact mechanism of how the essential oil affect development of enlarged breast in boys is unclear. They speculate that both of these essential oils can mimic the action of female hormone oestrogen and block off male hormones which suppresses breast development and promote masculine characteristics.

The lesson to be learnt here is that, do not take herbs lightly as I ever said in my very first post titled 'Herbal for You'. It is not bad to incorporate herbal extract in toiletries but it is bad enough to not do sufficient research before using them. Herbs has become almost a pop-culture among users and almost every hygiene products now contains at least one natural ingredients or its mimics. One has to be aware though, that plants contains a lot of oestrogen mimics. This includes soy bean and Lady Fingers.

My suggestion is to use these products sparingly. However, surprisingly, these two essential oils are the two most useful one in aromatherapy and can be used neat without dilution. Also, if we notice, only male adolescences are affected which might suggest a pre-puberty link. However, whether such side-effects are present in adult males are not known and unstated.
"Whether such side-effects are present in adult males are not known and unstated."
The reason of incorporating Lavender and Tea Tree Oil in toiletries is more than just a pop-culture. Lavender has been appreciated for centuries for its exquisite fragrance and healing properties while Tea Tree Oil is internationally renowned for its antimicrobial properties. I would suggest that, if there is a need to use these oils, there is absolutely no need to avoid them (as this might worsen the condition).

Our Philosophy
Our motto has always been clear: Do not use/add-in ingredients that are unnecessary for the conditions. We have never used an oil because of its scent; we used them because of their functions. Hence, the inclusion of Lavender Oil in our famous cream: the Soothing Skin Salve, as a skin regenerative.

Moderate usages of the oils and its products are definitely not harmful but if you are still concerned, I'd suggest the following:

Lavender Substitute
Lavender is a wonderful skin regenerative and a gentle oil, hence its inclusion in many products. Moderate usages (less than ten drops in a day) would not produce any harmful effect! However, if you are still concerned, one oil that has similar properties to Lavender would be Palmarosa Oil and Patchouli Oil. The scent would not be as lovely but the effect would not be far-off.

Tea Tree Oil Substitute
Tea Tree Oil is an excellent anti-microbial. Again, moderate usages (less than ten drops in a day) would not cause any harmful effect. Good substitute would be Pine Oil, Thyme, or Oregano (Try to not used it externally for too long). There are a lot of products containing Pine Oil in the market. Most notably are soaps and shampoos. Try avoiding synthetic antiseptic soaps and the like. Pine Oil is a quite safe oil to use in a household provided it is diluted less than 2 percent in a suitable carrier oil. For this purpose, refer to my previous post titled 'Base Oil for Aromatherapy'

Notes on Infants
However, on infant I do not recommend the usage of any herbal or commercial products. However, natural products that used common essential oils such as Orange Oil and/or Eucalyptus Oil would be fine.

In conclusion, only use essential oils whenever you need them. if you are concerned about the ingredients used in our formulations, do give us a buzz and we will tailor-made one for you.


Aria said...

I am really interested in this as I have a 16 week old son and use Melaleuca Oil in just about every cleaning and laundry product I use. As well as toothpaste, and even body lotion. I also exclusivly breast feed my son. I am concerned about exposure, and would like to know more about the studies that have been done. I want to know how much is OK, or if I should stay away from it as well, because what I ingest/inhame/wear goes into my breast milk.

Henri said...

This I cannot confirm for sure but those chemical you used (inhaled, ingest and even wear) will sometimes goes into your blood stream. However, as the study is still in its early stage, we do not know for sure is that will cause harmful effect.

However, since there is such studies, it is better to avoid using Tea Tree Oil. Substituting it with Pine Oil will be better. See my above article for how to use it. However, Pine oil tend to be harsher, so do dilute it to a appropriate amount. You can refer to my previous post on how to dilute essential oil (you can use the Google search to locate it). Thanks for supporting my site though!