Before discussing the side effects of the lavender oil, let’s take a brief look at the benefits of lavender oil.
Lavender is not only adored for its blue-violet flowers and mild fragrance, but is also hailed for its medicinal benefits. Lavender oil is used to treat alopecia areata, eczema, depression, dementia, headache, insomnia, acne, joint pain and post-surgery pain. Lavender oil calms and relaxes the body and mind, and helps one fall asleep more easily. Lavender oil should only be used topically or combined with hot water and inhaled. Lavender oil is most preferred in aromatherapy but it also has other uses, which is in the form of tinctures, diluted solutions, or tea and can also be applied topically.
When using topically, one should mix between 1 to 4 drops of lavender oil into a tablespoon of the base oil. When inhaling, 1 to 2 drops of the lavender oil should be mixed into a cup of boiling water. However, lavender oil is very powerful and can sometimes cause allergic reactions and other side effects. The various forms of lavender should not be used interchangeably. Lavender oil is toxic if ingested. Some of the symptoms which can point towards lavender oil toxicity are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, vision impairment, burning sensation in the throat with pain, breathing problems, and rashes on the skin. In case one swallows lavender oil, they should immediately contact poison control to get proper treatment. Mentioned below are certain side effects of lavender oil.
Side Effects of Lavender Oil
Hormonal Problems in Males from Lavender Oil
When lavender oil is used topically, such as when using certain home products like soap, skin lotion, or shampoo can cause breast tissue enlargement in males. Pre-pubertal gynecomastia is a rare condition in which the patient develops enlarged breasts prior to puberty. The cause of this illness is often unidentifiable. However, a link between gynecomastia and lavender oil use is suspected. A study has found that lavender oil is an endocrine disruptor, i.e. a compound which interferes with hormone production or activity. Lavender oil limits the effects of androgen, the hormone which controls the masculine traits, and starts acting like estrogen, the female hormone responsible for the growth of breast tissue. Boys or men with enlarged breasts feel embarrassed and stressed because of their condition and may experience other emotional and psychological issues. Gynecomastia generally clears up, or at least subsides, after many months of discontinuing the use of lavender oil laden products. No long-term effects on hormone levels, after discontinuing the use of lavender oil have yet been observed. Men suffering from infertility should avoid using lavender oil altogether. Although very limited evidence exists to back lavender oil’s testosterone-blocking property, it is always advisable for men to keep lavender oil containing products at bay.
Allergic Reactions from Lavender Oil
Inhalation, dermal application and ingestion of lavender oil can trigger allergic reactions. These reactions often occur when this lavender oil is inhaled during aromatherapy, from candles or commercial deodorizers. Also topical application of this lavender oil through massage, cosmetic and skin care products can trigger this allergic reaction as a side effect of lavender oil. Gastrointestinal reactions commonly get triggered due to ingestion of lavender oil as a confection, flavouring agent in tea, or other food products.
An allergic reaction caused by lavender oil can lead to various symptoms to include burning sensation in the throat and eyes, skin rash, blurred vision, headache, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, chills and breathing problems. When experiencing an allergic reaction as a side effect to lavender, the patient should seek immediate medical help.
Medical professionals would check the vital signs of the patient and if required administer charcoal administration is done for complete detoxification. The patient is also given fluids IV fluids or antiinflammatory drugs, such as diphenhydramine or prednisone. Emergency responders may even advise the patients to drink milk or water to vomit to counteract the side effects of lavender oil.
Medical Interactions with Lavender Oil
Lavender oil generally does not interact with standard medicine. However, in some cases lavender oil can lead to excessive drowsiness or the patient may feel sleepy if it is used along with medications which have chloral hydrate as its component or sedative medications containing barbiturates. Lavender oil can possibly interact with sedative medications which contain CNS depressants like narcotics for pain, such as morphine; or anti-anxiety medications like Ambien or Klonopin. One should always consult their doctor to ensure that lavender oil is safe to use with the medications they are taking to avoid any unpleasant medical interactions or side effects of lavender oil.
Acne & Skin Issues and Lavender Oil
Although lavender oil is known to have very few side effects, one should always be careful and take the basic precautions when using this oil. Lavender oil should never be ingested as it is toxic. The topical application of lavender oil to sensitive regions like eyes, lips, nostrils and on the mucous membranes should be totally avoided. Like any other essential oil, even lavender oil can cause allergic skin reactions and dermal irritation in certain people. One should start by applying lavender oil to a small region of the skin to make sure there are no problems. Inspite of its therapeutic properties, lavender oil should never be used as a substitute for medical treatment, especially in cases of severe acne or open and infected sores.
Lavender oil has been used for treating a variety of conditions, but research does not support most of its medicinal uses. Because of its potential side effects, it is advisable to use herbs like lavender under the supervision of a medical expert. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should specifically consult a physician before using lavender oil. People on medications must ask their doctor about any possible drug and medicine interactions. Before using lavender oil on their children, especially young boys who have still not attained puberty, parents should check with the doctor to know about the potential hormonal side effects from lavender oil.