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Natural Path Parenting Blog 1
Essential oil risks in infants

While we are on the topic of oestrogen disrupting chemicals I wanted to share with you a little bit of information about the use of essential oils with children. 

 Most of us are probably aware that using products from Johnston and Johnston is not recommended if you prefer not to exposure your child to known chemical toxins. And if you didn’t know, it is disturbing and true! Check out the latest article on facebook

So we tend to choose more natural products – fantastic, however many of these and general mainstream products now contain essential oils due to it being trendy as well as appealing. Unfortunately little did we all know that the humble essential oil of lavender, when rubbed on baby’s skin in the form of moisturisers, lotions, bubble baths, shampoos and conditioners, sleep balms etc is actually causing hormonal issues in young boys (and likely girls, its just less obvious as they have their own oestrogens). So it appears that lavender essential oil may have feminising effects – such as enlarged breast tissue – a condition called gynecomastia.

A study reported in a 2007 issue of the "New England Journal of Medicine" found that lavender oil is an endocrine disruptor, a compound that may interfere with hormone production or activity. Laboratory studies confirmed a doctors observations, demonstrating that lavender oil inhibits the effects of androgen, the hormone that controls masculine characteristics, and mimics the actions of estrogen, the female hormone responsible for the growth of breast tissue.

Interestingly most essential oils are extracted from plant flowers which are the reproductive parts of the plants. Essential oils are very concentrated forms of plant chemicals and hormones – which we would never come across naturally in our diet or environment. We are exposed in small quantities through the foods we eat, and this can actually be protective to our body, and contribute positively to our health. Essential oils do have many positive health enhancing properties as applied by aromatherapy. I believe it is the concentration of essential oils (and it is likely that lavender is not the only issue here) that leads to hormone disrupting effects in children, but it could be used to benefit particular health conditions on adults. For example due to the androgen inhibiting effects it could help reduce androgenic acne in men and women or reduce excess hair growth.

So I suggest choosing products for your babies and children that are fragrance and essential oil free. I only use essential oils for my child for therapeutic purposes i.e. when she is sick to help her breath or if she is injured to prevent infection and speed healing. Plants and their extracts can be incredibly powerful, they can heal, but they can also harm. Always seek the guidance of a professional.

Several months after discontinuing the use of products containing lavender oil gynecomastia should clear up, or at least will have subsided, according to the National Institutes of Health. Researchers do not foresee any long-term effects on hormone levels following discontinuation of lavender oil use.

I recommend the use of products from Dianne Caine, all made with love, researched to be all safe and made here in WA.



Sam Warner
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