Lavender has been used to treat a variety of conditions, including anxiety, insomnia, depression, headaches, hair loss and skin problems. It produces sedative and soothing effects when inhaled, as expressed by the University of Maryland Medical Center, but research does not support most other medicinal uses. In addition to aromatherapy oil, lavender can come in the form of teas, tinctures and diluted solutions for topical applications. The various forms of lavender can not be used in the same way. For example, oil is toxic if swallowed. The possible side effects of herbs like lavender are a good reason to use herbal treatments under the supervision of your doctor.
Topical use of lavender oil in products such as shampoo, soap or skin lotion can lead to an enlarged breast tissue in children. Prepubertal gynecomastia, enlarged breasts before puberty, is a rare disease and its cause is often not identifiable, according to the National Institutes of Health. A pediatric endocrinologist at the University of Colorado in Denver suspected a relationship between the use of lavender oil and gynecomastia after diagnosing the disease in three young men.
A study published in the 2007 issue of the "New England Journal of Medicine" found that lavender oil is an endocrine disruptor, a compound that can interfere with hormone production or activity. Laboratory studies confirmed the doctors' observations, demonstrating that lavender oil inhibits the effects of androgen, the hormone that controls male characteristics, and mimics the reaction of estrogen, the male hormone responsible for the growth of breast tissue.
There are few physical complications due to gynecomastia, but psychological and emotional problems can occur. Boys or men with enlarged breasts may find their disease embarrassing and stressful. The problem can be difficult to hide, making them the target of jokes and making them feel bad about themselves. Men with gynecomastia may feel that their bodies have betrayed them.
Prevention and resolution
Several months after discontinuing the use of products containing lavender oil, gynecomastia may disappear or at least be reduced, according to the National Institutes of Health. Researchers do not foresee long-term effects on hormone levels after discontinuing the use of lavender oil.
The New York University's Langone Medical Center suggests that men with infertility should also avoid the use of lavender oil.Although there is only limited evidence to support the testosterone-blocking nature of lavender oil, men can eliminate a possible cause of their low fertility or infertility by avoiding products that contain it.