Recent studies suggest that certain essential oils have shown links to abnormal breast growth in young boys. The oils that are causing all this concern are lavender and tea tree oils.
According to recent studies, eight chemicals in the oils interfere with hormones, boosting oestrogen and inhibiting testosterone.
The studies were carried out because of the growing number of reported cases of male gynaecomastia (enlargement of a man's breasts, usually due to hormone imbalance or hormone therapy). The reported number of males with gynaecomastia had been exposing themselves to the oils topically. When they stopped using the products, the symptoms subsided.
I’ve been using essential oils for years and absolutely love them. I have been using lavender in my son’s products since he was a baby. He has very sensitive skin and most of the products I can use on him contain lavender. It might not be related but he has got a large chest for someone of his age. I’m sure his shape will change once he gets taller but until further studies are carried out I will avoid products containing these essential oils, just to be sure.
The school nurse weighed my son in reception and told us he was overweight for his age. He’s always had such a healthy diet and been so active, this worried me and we listened to the school's advice and took our son to see his doctor. The doctor carried out lots of different tests and discussed his diet with us. He thought my son’s diet was perfect, better than most and thankfully the tests all came back perfect, worry over!
A year later since those tests, my worry for my son still continues. Please understand I have kept all of this concern away from my son and have not let him be aware of the weight concerns. My son is very active and still eats perfectly but he’s still gaining weight and is larger than most children in his class. Now he’s 7 he’s more aware of his shape, he dresses himself, looks in the mirror and complains every day. I, of course, adore him just the way he is and tell him how wonderful he is every day, this isn’t making him feel any better though because he’s unhappy with himself. Someone did call him fat a while ago and it did upset him at the time but this was dealt with and he’s best friends with this child and they get on wonderfully. He is very popular at school all his friends adore him, he’s got such an amazing personality no one puts him down. My son’s unhappiness with his shape has come from himself. If anyone has a child that feels unhappy with their image you will understand how awful it is to see them so unhappy.
So just in case, the use of certain essential oils can cause gynaecomastia I will be avoiding using on my son.
At this time there is insufficient evidence to support the concept that exposure to lavender and tea tree oil-containing products cause gynaecomastia.
I will be looking out for the results of future tests and will let you know once I know anything else about this matter.
If you want to find out more about this information the BBC news has written a post about this and you can find it here.