Are essential oils safe?

  • Posted on Jan 3, 2017

essential_oils  We have a lot of mothers that use essential oils for numerous different ailments. Until recently, we had no idea if they were safe or effective. Over time we are seeing more studies and we are making discoveries ourselves. Lavender oil, for instance, has been helpful in helping children relax for sleep. I usually recommend a sachet next to their pillow. Tea tree oil can help with fungal skin infection but can also really worsen eczema in children. In fact, most of us have seen children who develop rashes due to all types of essential oils. But rashes can occur with literally anything applied to the skin so that’s not a surprise.

What has been a surprise is some of the studies suggesting a link between tea tree oil and lavender oil and gynecomastia (breast development). A pediatrician saw 3 boys with this condition and reported it in 2007. All three boys were using both oils. All three boys had a decrease in breast tissue when they stopped the oils. Their blood work was normal so the doctors had no other explanation.

The NIEHS (National Institute of Environmental Health Services) determined that these oils mimic estrogen and can have a negative effect on androgens (male hormones). Since then some studies support a possible link and others showed no link. The NIEHS posted a warning but did not have definitive proof.

We noticed that our local endocrinologists are taking this seriously and now ask all families if they use the oils.  I know these oils are natural and seem innocent but remember that all of our medicines originated in nature…so use caution!

-Dr Badaracco

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