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Minutes subsequent to promoting the marvelous effect of tea tree oil on my page for an especially terrible infection, my telephone lit up with warnings. It was an old buddy of mine, one who consistently invests wholeheartedly in being forward-thinking on everything on wellness. “I would rather not reveal to you this,” the message read, “however there’s some proof that tea tree and lavender oil could be truly downright awful you.
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism shows that regular, long-term exposure to lavender and tea tree essential oils was connected to the evolution of prepubertal gynecomastia (in more uncomplicated terms, the advanced growth of breast tissue in young boys and girls). The working hypothesis is that these oils in particular include chemicals that the body translates as estrogen, throwing off the balance of the endocrine system and showing potential risks to both males and females.
A Google search, unsurprisingly, will guide you down a rabbit hole—the identical compounds occur in more than 65 other essential oils, which has led some specialists to question the general use of essential oils completely. Before you cast out all of your oils, nevertheless, it’s necessary to take note of a few circumstances—specifically, the small sample size and “uncertain” nature of the open research.
Nonetheless, I was astounded—tea tree and lavender oil aren’t just popular, they’re the forces to be reckoned with of essential oils. Almost everybody I know, regardless of whether they’re “into” oils, utilizes tea tree and lavender for a wide range of home cures. They have mitigating, disinfectant, and antibacterial properties—so how is it possible that something would so great be bad for you?
That being said, sometimes just understanding that there’s a gamble, no matter how little, can be sufficient to turn you off of those oils. And some people, particularly those who are cancer survivors, very young, or otherwise sensitive should be cautious about any possible hormone disruptor. If the melaleuca smells greener on the safer side, here are five lesser-known essential oils to try that have similar benefits:
This oil has the light, fresh scent of a citrus with flowery undertones. If you love lavender and tea tree for their all-purpose, well-rounded uses, then you’ll love Roman chamomile. With antifungal, antihistamine, antibacterial, and somnolent properties, it’s a versatile alternative.
Shop now: Plant Therapy Roman Chamomile Essential Oil, $19
Looking for an addition to your holistic first aid kit? Frankincense works wonders inside and out. It’s said to stimulate healing and promote liver health. It also improves focus and is said to be an effective mood-lifter.
Shop now: Handcraft Frankincense Essential Oil, $18
If you love the natural, woodsy smell of tea tree and lavender, cedar will be your new obsession. The earthy notes of cedar oil inspire deep breathing, which may be why it’s so great for anxiety and emotional balance. Much like lavender, it’s also an effective bug repellent.
Shop now: Gya Labs Cedarwood Essential Oil, $7
Looking for an oil that can do it all? Patchouli is antifungal, soothing, repels bugs, and lifts moods. In addition to treating a variety of skin issues, it even works as a deodorant. Patchouli’s versatility makes me think those in the ’70s might have been on to something.
Shop now: SVA Organics Patchouli Oil, $20
Calming and light, geranium oil is a wonderful alternative if you’re looking for an oil with lavender’s soothing effects. Jacobson points out that geranium also has anti-fungal properties similar to tea tree, and that when inhaled, it can make people “feel emotionally balanced without affecting physical hormones.”
Shop now: Geranium Essential Oil, $15