Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Perils of Lavender & Tea Tree Oils

It is now well-known that man-made compounds can present challenges to the normal functioning of the endocrine systems of vertebrates. However, the ability of herbal extracts to be endocrine disruptors is not common knowledge.

Science News (01JUL2006, vol. 170, p. 6) reports that lavender oil and tea tree oil contain compounds that mimic female sex hormones and thus can interfering with male hormones, especially in pre-pubescent boys. Repeated exposure to these compounds through skin-care products produced enlarged male breasts (gynecomastia) in boys age 10 and younger, a very rare condition for that age group. While such a symptom in boys is an obvious indicator that something is amiss, early breast development in girls may also be linked to topical exposure to plant products. Link:


Love2Learn Mom said...

I think it is true that people aren't generally aware of potential dangers of some natural remedies and herbs. My husband, who is extremely allergic to poison oak, bought some multi-vitamins with herbs and started getting a severe reaction similar to what he gets from poison oak. It was fortunate that he recognized that the herbs were a problem after only a few days, but it was much later that we read a reference in a book on herbs that people who are allergic to poison oak should never taken gingko biloba. Scary!

Theresa said...

Right. People just don't realize the power of herbs. Many of the powerful components of our man-made pharmaceuticals were originally found in herbs. Yet if the label reads "herbal" or "natural" people immediately equate that with "safe." Not true! This is one of the assumptions that led to all the ephedra problems. Hemlock is also an all-natural herbal product, but I doubt Socrates would agree with the "safe" assumption! Thanks for bringing this up!