Today everywhere you look there are references where Lavender and Tea Tree essential oils’ safety are being questioned.
There has been no link made. It was not an actual study that was done. Two doctors noticed breast development on two boys. They pinned it to a shampoo they were both using. Never was the “product” identified; nor were the other ingredients mentioned. -parabens cause the same issue.
The Pharmaceutical industry, which owns the personal care industry, wants to get everyone afraid of the two safest essential oils that God gave us for healing. If they can get you to worry about the safest (lavender and tea tree) essential oils, they have you hooked on chemicals your whole life…You fear something that has been used for thousands of years. Yet, you willingly use chemicals that have not been tested for their long-term safety on humans. These chemicals were created using byproducts of the gasoline production after World War II.
If you are using anything with -parabens in it, you are getting those same hormones in larger amounts; -parabens have been found often in cancer tumors. Yet, no one is setting a safe level for combined usage of them. If every product you use has some in it…how much is too much? Most Americans use between 10-20 products per day on their skin.
Now we mention the -glycols catagory (think antifreeze). In every product out there.
I have no plans to stop using Lavender essential oil in virtually every product. If you do not want to use them, you will have to find such pure products elsewhere.
Below is an article from February 2007 on the “Study” linking Lavender and Tea Tree essential oil to breast growth in boys. The author is Robert Tisserand, of the Tisserand Institute, UK. Tissuerand has been called the “Father of Aromatherapy”. He has been practicing aromatherapy since 1969.
When God tells me to stop using these oils; then I will.
Enjoy the Journey…Looking Forward not Back
Have a Blessed Day..
Lavender/Tea Tree Study Debunked
Neither lavender oil nor tea tree oil can be linked to breast growth in young boys
In a recent report, a correlation is alleged between commercial products containing lavender and tea tree oils and breast growth in young boys. Three cases were seen in boys aged 4-7, who had all been using such products. In each case, the breast growth reduced to normal parameters within several months of ceasing to use the products. Subsequent laboratory testing showed that both essential oils had estrogen-like properties (Henley et al 2007).
In the report, no information is given about any of the constituents of the products used. The information given about product use is sparse, and we do not know for certain whether any of the products contained lavender or tea tree oils, since they were not analyzed by the researchers. The cases:
In the first case, “The patient’s mother reported applying a “healing balm” containing lavender oil to his skin starting shortly before the initial presentation.” No further details of the product or its use are given, but a healing balm sounds like something that might only be applied to a small area of skin. If so, then it is unlikely that any ingredient could have entered the boy’s blood in sufficient concentration to cause gynecomastia within a short time period.
In the second case, a styling hair gel was applied to the hair and scalp every morning, along with regular use of a shampoo. Both tea tree and lavender oil are cited on the ingredient list of both products.
In a subsequent website report, it is claimed that the two hair products used in this case were manufactured by Paul Mitchell, and that these were analyzed by a competitor. The shampoo was said to contain “very low concentrations” of tea tree oil, and the content in the hair gel was “virtually undetectable”. Lavender oil concentration was not checked (Neustaedter 2007).
Dermal absorption of fragrance from shampoo application has been estimated to be 80 times less than that from body lotion (Cadby et al 2002). If the website report is genuine, considering that shampoo is a wash-off product, and that there was only a negligible amount of tea tree oil in the hair gel, tea tree oil can be ruled out as a possible cause of this boy’s gynecomastia. However, liberal use of a hair gel rich in lavender oil could result in moderate dermal absorption of lavender oil constituents (Cal 2006).
The third case involved “lavender-scented soap, and intermittent use of lavender-scented commercial skin lotions”. This sounds as if there may not be very much natural lavender oil present. Further, soap is a wash-off product, and the use of lavender lotion is described as “intermittent”. Whether any absorption of genuine lavender oil took place at all seems doubtful.
Since dermal absorption of soap fragrance is some 266 times less than that from body lotion, it is virtually impossible that the fragrance in a soap could be absorbed in sufficient quantity to cause any physiological effect (Cadby et al 2002).
Of great interest is the statement that, in this third case, a fraternal twin used the same skin lotions, but not the soap, and did not develop gynecomastia. It would be reasonable to assume that, since the soap could not be responsible for the effect, and since the twin used the lotions without any problem, the gynecomastia in this third case must have been due to some cause other than essential oils.
The in vitro testing — The in vitro evidence shows weak but definite endocrine disrupting effects for both lavender and tea tree oils. The second case was the only one in which tea tree oil was involved. Tea tree oil was tested because it was deemed to be “chemically similar” to lavender oil. However, apart from the fact that both are essential oils, they have little in common chemically.
The composition of the essential oils tested is not given, nor is any other information about them, apart from the supplier. Since they do not appear to be organically grown, biocide content is a possibility.
It is unusual in such reports not to name the products suspected as being responsible for the effects under discussion. In the circumstances, it is also curious that the labeled ingredients were not cited. It is even more surprising that no attempt was made to ascertain, retrospectively, whether any constituents of lavender or tea tree oil were detectable. If the products are not named, no one else can test them either.
Even assuming that one or both of the essential oils were present at some level, we do not know what quantities of essential oil constituents may have penetrated the skin, but we do know that transcutaneous absorption from fragrances takes some time. The amount that could find its way into the blood from a wash-off product such as a shampoo or soap is negligible, because the time of skin contact is so short. Skin absorption from tea tree and lavender oil constituents is measured in hours, not minutes, in and some instances even leave-on products result in minimal dermal penetration (Cal 2006, Reichling 2006).
The Henley et al report mentions that none of the boys had been exposed to any known endocrine disruptor, such as medications, oral contraceptives(!), marijuana or soy products. However, no mention is made of other known endocrine disruptors, such as organochlorine pesticides, PCBs, polychlorinated dioxins, alkyl phenols, pthalates and parabens (Darbre 2006). Both pesticides and phthalates have been found in essential oils, and both phthalates and parabens are commonly found in cosmetic products.
It is, therefore, entirely possible that other ingredients in the products caused the gynecomastia. Pesticides, PCBs and dioxins are found in the environment, often in food, and it is also possible that some local surge of environmental hormone disruptors caused these cases in Colorado.
No attempt was made to identify the constituent(s) responsible for the in vitro effect, but it is reasonable to expect that any hormonal action in an essential oil would be due to one or two constituents, or even contaminants. It is noteworthy that, while in vitro hormonal effects from essential oil constituents have been previously reported, these are generally very weak, and have been estimated as being at least 10,000 times less potent than 17ß-estradiol (Howes et al 2002).
There is no evidence that the effect seen in vitro would take place in vivo, and much more research would be needed before any definite determinations could be made. Many estrogenic substances have previously been identified from plant sources, and very weak activity is typical of these phytoestrogens (Chadwick et al 2006, Howes et al 2002).
Conclusions — As the report states, breast growth in pre-pubertal boys is extremely uncommon, yet three cases are reported within a short period of time, and all in the same clinic. Considering that some 200 tonnes per annum are produced of both lavender and tea tree oil, that most of this goes into personal care products, and that very little of the evidence presented for these 3 cases is convincing, the press reports of caution are premature.
Even if one or more of these cases was linked to product use, any connection with either lavender or tea tree oil is unproven. Other known endocrine disrupting ingredients in the products could have played a role. Furthermore, we do not know what other factors, such as dietary or environmental, may have played a part.
The in vitro work reported by Henley et al (2007) does indicate a hormonal effect. However, this cannot be extrapolated to estimate actual human risk, especially without knowing more about the essential oil constituents causing the in vitro effects seen. No connection was established between the in vitro work and the three cases, and the case for tea tree oil having an effect on prepubertal gynecomastia is especially weak. Phytoestrogens generally have a very weak hormonal activity, and it is implausible that the amounts of essential oil that enter the body from product use would have a significant effect. Further research will hopefully clarify these issues.
Cadby PA, Troy WR, Vey MG 2002 Consumer exposure to fragrance ingredients: providing estimates for safety evaluation. Regulatory Toxicology & Pharmacology 36: 246-252
Cal K 2006 How does the type of vehicle influence the in vitro skin absorption and elimination kinetics of terpenes? Archives of Dermatological Research 297: 311-315
Chadwick LR, Pauli GF, Farnsworth NR 2006 The pharmacognosy of Humulus lupulus L. (hops) with an emphasis on estrogenic properties. Phytomedicine 13: 119-131
Darbre PD 2006 Environmental oestrogens, cosmetics and breast cancer. Best Practice & Research Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 20: 121-143
FMA 2007 http://www.fmafragrance.org/sub_pages/020107henleyresponse.pdf
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
Howes M-J R, Houghton P J, Barlow D J et al 2002 Assessment of estrogenic activity in some common essential oil constituents. Journal of Pharmacy & Pharmacology 54:1521–1528
Neustaedter R 2007 http://www.cureguide.com/Natural_Health_Newsletter/Lavender_Dangers/lavender_dangers.html
Reichling J, Landvatter U, Wagner H, Kostka KH, Schaefer UF 2006 In vitro studies on release and human skin permeation of Australian tea tree oil (TTO) from topical formulations. European Journal of Pharmaceutics & Biopharmaceutics 64: 222-228
**Tea Tree Essential Oil**
Tea tree is a member of a genus of Australian and New Zealand trees and shrubs known as honey myrtles or bottlebrush trees. Many of the 100 or so species of tea tree have fragrant, essential oil-containing leaves.
At least three species of bottlebrush trees are distilled for their essential oil: Melaleuca alternifolia, from which we get tea tree oil; Melaleuca cajeputi, which yields cajeput essential oil; and Melaleuca viridiflora, the source for niaoli essential oil.
Distilled cajeput and niaoli oils retain some of the sweet-woody aromas present in the fresh leaves. Cajeput and niaoli oils are slightly less medicinal smelling than tea tree oil.
Although tea tree oil has a history of use as an herbal medicine, it wasn’t until modern biochemists and aromatherapists defined the therapeutic nature of its essential oil that it became widely popular as an alternative medicine.
Tea tree leaves have been used by Australian aboriginal people for treating cuts and wounds. The freshly crushed leaves are applied directly to an injury, then secured in place with a mud pack. Apparently the medicinal affects of this tea tree poultice are so powerful that they not only combat infection in the wound but overcome the potential for further infection caused by the application of the less than sterile mud pack.
Europeans learned of tea tree’s effects as a folk medicine when they came to settle in Australia in the 19th century. Gradually the scientific community began to research and document the effects of the plant, especially the bactericidal and germicidal properties of the oil.
The key to tea tree’s medicinal effectiveness is the ratio of two chemical constituents present in the oil: cineole and terpinen. Although both of these constituents are bactericidal and germicidal, cineole can be a powerful skin irritant. Therefore tea tree oils with low cineole and high terpinen contents are preferred.
The cineole/terpinen ratio can vary considerably in the many species of tea tree. The ratio can even vary in the same species growing in different areas. Plants which are identical other than their chemical make-ups are known as chemotypes. This variance prompted the creation of an Australian standard for a minimum terpinen content of 30% and a maximum cineole content of 15%. Now that the plant has been brought into cultivation, a process of selecting and propagating choice plants has produced tea tree oils that surpass the Australian standard, with terpinen contents as high as 40% and cineole contents as low as 5%. When the standard is exceeded in this way, the effectiveness of the oil remains high while its possible irritant effects decrease.
In aromatherapy, tea tree essential oil is employed for its physical, rather than emotional or aesthetic nature. This isn’t to say that the strongly medicinal aroma of tea tree is offensive. Many appreciate its underlying intensely warm, nutmeg-like scent.
Some of the most effective aromatherapy uses for tea tree oil are cosmetic in nature. For instance, tea tree has a marked oil dissolving and dispersing action, which can help alleviate overly oily secretions of the skin. One way to take advantage of tea tree’s natural astringent action is to dilute 12 drops of the oil in about three ounces of warm water and gently wipe freshly cleaned skin with the mixture using a soft cotton ball.
An oily scalp can also benefit from an application of tea tree. Before shampooing, a gentle massage with a few drops of the oil will gently invigorate the scalp and help lift greasy deposits from the hair shaft.
Because of the mild qualities of tea tree’s terpinen content, the oil can soothe cuts, scratches, sunburn and cold sores. Because it’s non-irritating, a single drop of the oil can be applied directly to minor injuries once or twice a day.
For a soothing sunburn treatment, tea tree is especially effective when paired with lavender oil. Add five drops of tea tree and 11 drops of lavender oil to three ounces of cool, distilled water. Place this mixture in a bottle with a spray atomizer attachment and mist sunburned areas whenever cooling relief is needed.
Other oils that sweeten tea tree’s medicinal aroma include clary sage, geranium and marjoram. Spice oils like nutmeg and cinnamon increase the warm-woody notes of tea tree. This spicy blend is good for wintertime diffusion during the cold and flu season.
Tea tree oil is an important therapeutic and cosmetic essential oil. Despite its less than beautiful fragrance it should figure prominently in any beginner or advanced aromatherapist’s repertoire.