Do lavender and tea tree oils cause breast growth and early puberty in children? 

Do lavender and tea tree oils cause breast growth and early puberty in children? 

Through a partnership with the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) and the Tisserand Institute, the Franklin School of Integrative Health Sciences Research Department / Franklin Health Research Foundation is leading a 3-part research project to investigate the proposed link between lavender and tea tree essential oils and endocrine disrupting outcomes, including prepubertal gynecomastia.

While multiple laboratory studies over the last decade have uncovered potential endocrine disrupting effects of essential oils, this proposed link has yet to be either substantiated or rejected through epidemiological studies.

Without an analysis of the effects of these ingredients within the human body, the safety of these two oils in pediatric products cannot be confirmed scientifically. These studies will be the first to identify the outcomes of the use of lavender and tea tree essential oils in personal care products for babies and children.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of study is this?

This project consists of three separate studies:

  • Measurement Instrument Creation & Validation
  • Cross-Sectional Study
  • Case-Control Study

The first and most important step was to develop a verified way to measure exposure to these oils in children. This is accomplished by creating and then testing a measurement instrument. In this case, the instrument is a questionnaire which was found to be highly effective at both identifying and quantifying exposures to lavender and tea tree oils over a period of 15 years. The first study is already finished and in the process of publication.

The next two studies are taking place simultaneously and are using this measurement tool to evaluate endocrine disruption outcomes in children who were exposed to these two oils. The case-control study is specifically looking at boys with confirmed cases of prepubertal gynecomastia and the cross sectional study is looking at both sexes and a wide range of endocrine disrupting outcomes.

If either of these two oils are associated with endocrine disrupting activity in children, this set of studies will find where that association exists. Perhaps it finds that a certain brand of products is linked to the effects. Or perhaps it finds that the effects are only found in a certain region or in children of a certain race. If there is a link, it will be found. If there is not a link, this project provides the first actual scientific evidence that these two essential oils do not cause these outcomes in children.

The program builds upon the old masters of architecture and gives the students visual and mathematical skills to conquer the world. For most students, this course will be a huge challenge, for the right students, it will be their dream come true.

What kind of essential oils are you using?
What chemicals are you testing?
What about all of the other ingredients in skincare?
Are you looking at the possibility of essential oils leaching endocrine disrupting chemicals from plastics?
Doesn't oil quality and adulteration explain the link?

Support this Project

Get Involved

This 2-year research project began Fall 2018 and is expected to be completed late 2020/early 2021.

The total cost of the project is $288,000, and it is being funded by the Franklin School of Integrative Health Sciences, the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy, AgriFutures Australia, the Tisserand Institute, and through generous individual donors.