We've read that using lavender soap on boys has an effect on their hormones. But has anyone heard of the scent in particular having this effect? My mother seems to think this, which I find to be... lets just say 'unlikely'.

( i would have tagged this lavender scent hormones, but those are new tags and i can't create them )

asked 20 Feb '10, 03:03

Ian's gravatar image

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edited 23 Apr '10, 18:29

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Tammy ♦♦

When I read your question my immediate reaction was similar to yours in that this is "unlikely". I don't know how much weight I would put on this but I found this quote from wikipedia.

Lavender oil has recently been implicated in gynecomastia, the abnormal development of breasts in young boys. Denver endocrinologist Clifford Bloch hypothesized the link after three boys presented with enlarged breasts. Subsequently, Derek Henley and Kenneth Korach of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park, N.C., discovered in lavender and tea tree oil the presence of compounds which both suppress male hormones and mimic female hormones.

Because sex hormone levels normally are low prior to puberty, young boys and girls particularly are sensitive to estrogenic and androgenic compounds. The discovery of the gynecomastia link in boys has led some researchers to suspect lavender and tea tree oils, which are present in various personal care products including shampoos and lotions, may also contribute to the increased incidence of early breast development in girls.

Discontinuation of use of these products resulted in rapid reversal of gynecomastia in Bloch’s young patients.[4][5]


answered 20 Feb '10, 03:57

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Tammy ♦♦
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I remember this study came out when my son was tiny (Mid 2006) and was in the news here in NZ but I haven't heard any more about it since until now.

(20 Feb '10, 07:40) K D

The question seemed to acknowledge possible problems with lavender but wondered if the scent alone was a problem.

To perceive the scent of something, it needs to be some kind of volatile (i.e. molecules escape the liquid and get into the air) and those molecules need to get into to your nose. If you smell the scent, you're definitely breathing some of it in.

I'm assuming that the studies cited were for people actually putting the soaps and oils on their bodies. There probably isn't enough data to know how much might have an effect or where it came from (was the effect from absorption through the skin? through the lungs? how much exactly is necessary to cause the effect?). So if you're worried that putting it on your skin may be a problem and don't know how low a dose might be a problem, perhaps you shouldn't be breathing it in, either.


answered 21 Feb '10, 16:20

lgritz's gravatar image

accept rate: 14%

This study seems pretty suspect and to draw wide ranging conclusions on what it extemely limited evidence. (Three kids, that's a coincidence in my book, a heck of a coincidence, but still a coincidence.)

Humans have been using lavender for millennia and I'm pretty sure that if it was causing little boys to grow breasts, the Daddies (Mommies too, but especially the Daddies) would have figured it out and put a stop to it in pretty short order a long, long time ago.


answered 26 Feb '10, 17:13

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accept rate: 30%

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Asked: 20 Feb '10, 03:03

Seen: 6,851 times

Last updated: 23 Apr '10, 18:29