Essential oils, which are obtained through mechanical pressing or distillation, are concentrated plant extracts that retain the natural smell and flavor of their source.
Each essential oil has a unique composition of chemicals, and this variation affects the smell, absorption, and effects on the body. The chemical composition of an essential oil may vary within the same plant species, or from plant to plant.
Synthetic oils are not considered true essential oils.
Do other essential oils contain these chemicals?
According to an analysis (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27427817) of the chemical components of 93 essential oils, the eight chemicals selected in the NIEHS study appeared in most, as indicated in the list below. Each of the eight chemicals is followed by the number of oils in which it appeared.
- dipentene/limonene – 90
- alpha-terpineol – 87
- linalool – 82
- 4-terpinenol – 80
- eucalyptol – 79
- gamma-terpinene – 79
- alpha-terpinene – 77
- linalyl acetate – 62
What age range are boys at risk for gynecomastia?
Male gynecomastia is a common clinical symptom observed during infancy, adolescence, and older age. Some physicians theorize that periods of major hormonal change may lead to the condition. However, prepubertal gynecomastia is relatively rare due to lower circulating hormone levels. Some scientists suspect that boys in this range may be more susceptible to hormonal changes and disrupting chemicals, which may lead to gynecomastia.
Is direct skin exposure the main link to male gynecomastia or can smelling or inhaling essential oils, as in aromatherapy, be linked, too?
The clinical cases have only described using essential oils on skin or topical exposure and not aromatherapy. In the NIEHS study, the team described whether topical exposure to the chemicals led to hormonal activity. Further studies are needed to determine if the same can be said about aromatherapy.
Are girls affected by lavender and tea tree oils?
Because breast growth is a natural process for pubescent girls, it is more difficult to determine whether pure essential lavender oil or tea tree oil have the same effect in females as males. A clinical case was reported in 2019 (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31393563/) that described abnormal breast growth in prepubescent girls who had continuous exposure to lavender-fragranced products. The premature breast growth resolved when exposure to the lavender-containing products stopped.