Tea Tree Oil and Hormonal Side Effects: Fact or Myth?

We live in a world where the everyday items in your life could have an unexpected impact on your health. Let's dive into a story that uncovers one such journey involving unlikely culprits: lavender and tea tree oils.

Gynecomastia: An Unusual Consequence

So, there's this thing called gynecomastia, a fancy word for the abnormal growth of breast tissue. It's not something you'd expect to encounter, especially when dealing with essential oils. Lavender and tea tree oils, two fragrant favorites, found themselves in the spotlight due to a curious case series featured in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Picture three young boys, each experiencing breast growth while using products containing these oils. Lavender and tea tree oils? You might be wondering, "How could these innocent-looking oils be to blame?" Well, here's where the plot thickens. The breast growth miraculously vanished when they stopped using these products. That raised eyebrows and led to further investigations.

Lavender and Tea Tree Oils and Investigating Hormone-Altering Activities


Intriguingly, experiments on human cell lines unveiled that both lavender and tea tree oils had hormone-altering activities. They leaned towards pro-female hormone and anti-male hormone effects. Scientists started to connect the dots, suspecting that repeated exposure to these oils might be the root cause.

However, there's always another side to the story. A representative from a tea tree oil company pointed out a valid counter-argument. Of the three boys affected, only one had been exposed to tea tree oil, whereas all three had used lavender oil. Could lavender be the real culprit in all cases? The debate continued.

To shed light on this mystery, researchers delved into in vitro effects, conducting experiments on breast cancer cells. When a dash of estrogen was introduced, the cells' growth surged exponentially. But, add an estrogen blocker to the mix, and the effect vanished. This was convincing, but it sparked a debate among herbal proponents who argued that in vitro testing alone might not be enough to indict traditionally used products.

The Tea Tree Oil Industry Association chimed in, emphasizing that only a few compounds from tea tree oil could penetrate the skin. What if the effects were solely due to these compounds? This question lingered until further studies were conducted later that year.

Unraveling the Compounds of Tea Tree Oil

Fast forward to the lab where breast cancer cells were subjected to increasing doses of whole tea tree oil in a petri dish. The cells responded by increasing their growth, a clear estrogenic effect. However, this wasn't the whole story. When examining the three components of tea tree oil that make it into the bloodstream when applied to the skin, none of them appeared to have estrogenic effects, whether alone or combined.

This revelation led European consumer safety officials to conclude that the link between gynecomastia and topical tea tree oil use seemed implausible. The story took another twist when researchers explored the use of a lavender/tea tree oil spray to address excessive hairiness in women. The results were astounding. After three months, the hair diameter in the placebo group remained unchanged, but in the lavender/tea tree oil group, all hairs ended up thinner.

Lavender and Tea Tree Oil for Excessive Hairiness

This surprising twist in our tale demonstrated that the combination of lavender and tea tree oils applied topically could effectively reduce mild excessive hairiness, offering a potentially safe, economical, and practical solution.

In the end, the journey through the curious world of essential oils unveiled both mysteries and practical applications that continue to shape our understanding of the unexpected impacts of everyday items on our health.


Here's the best way to pick organic tea tree oil:

  1. Choose certified organic

  2. Ingredients List: The only ingredient listed should be 100% pure tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia). There should be no additives, fillers, or synthetic substances.

  3. Source: Research where the tea tree oil is sourced. Australia is known for producing some of the best tea tree oil. Organic certification may also indicate a commitment to sustainable and ethical practices.

  4. Price: While organic tea tree oil may be slightly more expensive, extremely low prices may be a red flag. Quality tea tree oil requires careful cultivation and extraction, which comes at a cost. Whole Foods have a great selection on tree tea oil.