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Phytoestrogens - Plant Estrogens

Phytoestrogens - Plant Estrogens

One of the most common phone calls I receive every day is a patient that is using Natural and Organic products on their skin that can't understand why they are sick.  They believe that since they are using Natural and Organic Cosmetics and Toiletries from the Health Food Store, they should be fine. 

Nothing could be further from the truth.

I tell them that if they believe that Natural and Organic is safe for them, they should eat the mushrooms that grow in their yard after a big rain!

Some plants have thorns to protect themselves from getting eaten.  Some plants are poisonous to protect themselves from getting eaten.  And some plants are hormone disruptive to protect themselves from getting eaten.

Clifford Bloch, MD and Gynecomastia (Man Boobs)

Clifford Bloch, MD is a pediatric endocrinologist in Denver, Colorado.  He had 3 young boys with gynecomastia (Man Boobs).  He measured their own endogenous hormones (their own testosterone, estradiol, estrone, and estriol).  He found their own hormones to be normal.  Then, he queried the parents of the boys and found that the parents were giving them tea tree oil and lavender oil.  On a hunch, he told the parents to stop the tea tree oil and lavender oil.  In 3-9 months, the Man Boobs disappeared! 

Then, he took the lavender oil and tea tree oil separately to a laboratory to test the lavender oil and tea tree oil to see if they stimulated estrogen receptors.  He found that the lavender and tea tree oil separately caused breast cancer cells sensitive to estrogen in the test tube to proliferate!  In other words, the breast cancer cells sensitive to estrogen LOVED the tea tree oil and lavender oil.  There was also another line of breast cancer cells sensitive to testosterone.  He found that the tea tree oil and lavender oil separately blocked the expression of testosterone.

The boys with Man Boobs were getting it both ways.  They were being turned into girls!  Not only were the estrogen receptors being stimulated with lavender and tea tree oil, but also their expression of testosterone was being blocked!

Recently, in March 2018, a new study confirmed chemicals in lavender and tea tree oil mimic estrogen.  Here is a link to that study.  Researchers at NIEHS, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, found that lavender and tea tree oil contained several different chemicals that had estrogenic properties as well as anti-androgenic properties.  Korach, PhD and Ramsey selected 8 different chemicals from the hundreds of different chemicals in lavender and tea tree oil.  Four oils appear in both herbs : eucalyptol, 4-terpineol, dipentene/limonene and alpha-terpineol.  Four other oils appeared in either oils: linalyl acetate, linalool, alpha-terpinene and gamma-terpinene.  The researchers applied these oils to test tube human cancer cells to measure estrogen receptor- and androgen receptor-target genes and transcriptional activity.

All eight chemicals showed different estrogenic and/or anti-androgenic properties, some showing high or little to no activity.  Ramsey, PhD states that many of these chemicals are found in 65 different essential oils.  He marvels that Medical Doctors believe that essential oils are safe, but he cautions that this is far from the truth.

What can we learn from this?

1.  Lavender and Tea Tree oil even though they are Natural and Organic can mimic estrogen.

2.  Does Lavender and Tea Tree oil appear on the hormone test?   NO. NO. NO.  This means that the run of the mill hormone test that you get in the doctor's office canNOT detect Lavender and Tea Tree oil.

3.  If you have breast cancer, will Lavender and Tea Tree oil cause breast cancer sensitive to estrogen to grow?  YES.

4.  Does Lavender and Tea Tree oil cause some female diseases like endometriosis that proliferate with estrogen stimulation to get worse?  YES.  I have personally observed in many endometriosis patients that lavender and tea tree oil will make their endometriosis flare.

5.  Are the producers of Lavender and Tea Tree oil upset about this?  Yes, they are very upset.  They have written many pieces to protest this "unfair" experiment and tried to poke holes in this study.

6.  Can the chronic use of Lavender and Tea Tree oil transform little boys into little girls?  Unfortunately, this may be somewhat true.  A hormone is a chemical messenger.  The messenger is telling the construction workers what kind of building to build.  Anecdotally, I had one mother that was giving her son lavender to go to sleep every night.  The young boy wanted to grow his hair out long.  The young boy wanted to hang out with the girls.  He didn't want to play with the boys.  After reading my material, the mother did not want to turn her little boy into a little girl.  The mother stopped giving the little boy lavender.  Then, the boy wanted to cut his hair short. He wanted to throw rocks and play with bows and arrows.  He no longer wanted to hang out with the girls.  The mother exclaimed, "I was NOT leading my boy in his behavior, this was happening spontaneously!"

Here is an article that shows phthalate exposure making boys play less masculine.  Pthalate is a xenoestogen.  High levels of DEHP and DBP, two phthalates in the urine of 28 week pregnant mothers were correlated with less masculine play in their sons.

Here is review article that shows high levels of DPB ( a xenoestrogen) associated with feminine less masculine behavior in boys.  The boys were NOT born that way.  The boys are being feminized by chemicals that mimic estrogen.  These chemicals do NOT appear on the run of the mill hormone test.

7.  Are there other herbs in folk medicine that also have estrogen effects?  Yes.  Many.  There is one province in China that is famed for their beautiful girls.  They have a folk tradition of feeding them fragrant herbs.  And yes, these women have a reputation of dying early.

Here is one scholarly article talking about how bamboo leaves can cause an estrogen response.  Note in the right hand column there are many other articles that refer to other plants having hormone disruptive properties.

This finding about lavender and tea tree oil from Clifford Bloch, MD was so notable that the National Institute of Health (NIH) wrote a memo to all pediatricians warning them about lavender and tea tree oil in boys.  You may read about it here.

If you would like to know more about phytoestrogens, read about it here from Tulane University.


I am not against lavender or tea tree oil.  Personally, I believe that if you need to use lavender and tea tree oil on a short term basis (say 2 weeks) for some medical reason please do so.  However, you must be aware that the chronic use of these herbs for several years every day may cause and contribute to female diseases that are associated with estrogen stimulation.  Uterine fibroids, endometriosis, adenomyosis, PMS, ovarian cysts, breast cysts, cramping, excessive vaginal bleeding are all diseases associated with too much estrogen stimulation.

Remember that these phytoestrogens are weird estrogens.  They are not like your own estradiol.  They do strange estrogen like things like create breast cancer.

If you buy any product from us, you will get an extensive list of herbs that may mimic estrogen.  You will also get a "safe" product list.  I looked through 500 shampoos and only found 3 that were acceptable.  I have been looking for xenoestrogens since 1999, and have over 30,000 patients.






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