Boys growing boobs?!
Posted in Kid Stuff » For Mom & Dad on Sunday, December 27, 2009

Natural Health Newsletter

Randall Neustaedter OMD


Concerns about Tea Tree Oil and Lavender

A series of three cases of breast enlargement in prepubertal boys led clinicians to search for a cause (1). They discovered that each of the boys had been using topical applications of products that contained lavender and tea tree oils. The symptom resolved when the boys stopped using these products.

Particulars of the cases included a 4 year-old boy whose mother applied an herbal lotion containing lavender, a 7 year-old boy who used a lavender-scented soap and skin lotion, and a 10 year-old boy who used a shampoo and styling gel that contained tea tree oil and lavender. Breast swelling is not a normal symptom young boys and usually is caused by an internal or external estrogen source.

This led the clinicians to research the effects of the oils on human cells. They tested the two oils on breast cancer cells with estrogen and androgen receptors. They found that the oils did have estrogenic effects and also blocked the male hormone androgen, both of which could have caused the breast swelling in these boys.

Lavender (lavandula) and tea tree oil (melaleuca) are often added to lotions and bath products for children. Parents should be aware of the estrogen-like effects of these, and many other products. Petroleum derived perfumes and pesticides, plastics, and soy products all exhibit estrogen effects. The skin is a very good absorbent membrane for drugs and chemicals, so parents need to be cautious about the products they use on their children's skin. Babies are especially susceptible to the disruptive and toxic effects of drugs and harmful chemicals applied to the skin in lotions and sunscreens, because their immature livers have difficulty metabolizing these chemicals. Parents should therefore use safe sunscreens (zinc oxide), organic shampoos, lotions, and soaps, and stay away from prolonged use of products that contain lavender and tea tree oil.

Henley DV, et al. Prepubertal gynecomastia linked to lavender and tea tree oils. New England Journal of Medicine Feb 1, 2007; 356:479-485.

Randall Neustaedter OMD
Classical Medicine Center
1779 Woodside Rd, 201C
Redwood City, CA 94061
+1 650 299-9170

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