Weekend Oily Tip:
Summarizing What We Learned So Far on Hormonal Health and Essential Oils
Listen to this blog in about 9 minutes below.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been on a bit of a mission to set the record straight regarding the misinformation and media hype that essential oils were endocrine disruptors.
First, in a two-part series, I reviewed all the caveats and pitfalls to the current headlines causing mass confusion to all essential oils’ lovers. This recent study was an in vitro experiment which isolated compounds extracted from tea tree and lavender essential oils and tested their effects on hormone receptors and genetic transcription of human cancer cells. The researchers then generalized their results to what could happen in the human body using essential oils. This story of these essential oils potential to cause gynecomastia, swelling of the breast tissue of boys, was a resurfacing of prior misleading “evidence.”
After working with essential oils for over eleven years in my practice, and over seventeen years with my team, I have not seen one single case of young boys growing boobs, or any harmful hormonal effects. This unwelcome regurgitation (sorry for the visual) made me determined to dig deeper to support what I have witnessed.
(Please note that I am a big advocate of essential oils being used as directed. See the safety information and resources in this blog.)
In my attempt to provide the real story, I realize I may have bombarded you and overwhelmed your brain. I promised I’d be back with a summary of all this information and some take home points to help with assimilation and application.
The Take-Home Points on Assessing Essential Oils for Hormonal Impacts
There were ten factors from my articles that I felt it were imperative to consider with any study to determine if its applicable to human beings in general, and to you.
Bottom lining it further, here’s a condensed version of the take-home points:
- Essential oils act different in petri dishes than in living creatures, and many issues can bias in vitro studies, and really any type of study.
- Isolated compounds cannot be deemed to have the same effect in cells or humans as a quality, therapeutic essential oil.
- Individualized factors will determine how essential oils are absorbed, processed, and utilized by the body. (AKA as the metabolome effects and the innate healing ability of essential oils.)
- True endocrine disruptors have been verified to have harmful effects in petri dishes, rodents, and associations with human disease risks. Essential oils have a record of being safe, when used responsibly, and producing positive effects in our rodent friends and clinical trials.
This week, I provided evidence of all four of these points with clary sage oil:
1. I highlighted a study which showed clary sage did not raise salivary estrogen levels.
2. I reported on a study that measured how inhalation of clary sage could affect oxytocin levels in pregnant women, but different women had different effects. Clary Sage oil was also deemed safe in this trail. (see number 3 and 4 above).
Coming up next week, I’ll provide more clinical trials that further support that there is no conclusive evidence that clary sage oil can manipulate estrogen receptors; however, there is evidence of balancing the body. This can result in impacting hormonal levels and modulating other endocrine effects.
3. I discussed how sclareol, a compound in clary sage oil which is deemed to be the “estrogen” compound, has actually been shown to inhibit estrogen in human cancer cells. It is most likely not high enough in essential to truly effect estrogen receptors. (see number 1 and 2 above).
Essential oils assist with balancing the physical, biochemical, and emotional aspects of the individual. The synergy of different compounds and constituents present naturally, makes it impossible to deem that one isolated, synthetic, compound will act the same in a living creature. (See this article on “why essential oils can do so darn much.”)
Let’s Pause for a Little Coffee Break…as a Comparison
You may have heard of the recent chit-chat in California regarding that coffee shops must display a warning that their cup o’ joes may be carcinogenic!
The concern for coffee causing harm to humans was based on a byproduct of coffee roasting, acrylamide, which is known as a cancer-causing chemical in rodents, and extrapolated to people. However, this is only true in large amounts. According to researchers and experts, this warning contradicts science and evidence of the benefits of coffees in humans! (source, source, source)
The judge’s decision may follow the law, Lichtenfeld said, but it stands in opposition to the science on the subject…
“There is no good human evidence to show the amount of acrylamide in coffee causes harm to people,” Lichtenfeld said.
In fact, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization (WHO), found “no conclusive evidence for a carcinogenic effect of drinking coffee,” he noted.
And in 2016, coffee was actually removed from the WHO list of cancer-causing agents, Lichtenfeld added, “meaning it’s safe for human consumption.”
The 1986 California law behind the coffee-shop ruling says that businesses must warn consumers about chemicals that cause a significant cancer risk — but “significant” is a very elastic term open to wide interpretation, according to Lichtenfeld.
“There is not enough evidence to suggest that acrylamide in coffee is something that would ‘significantly’ increase one’s risk for cancer,” he said.
On the other hand, recent studies have supported coffee’s potential health benefits, including reducing the risk for some cancers, he noted…
“There are many health benefits associated with drinking coffee, including a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers,” said Heller, who’s senior clinical nutritionist at New York University Medical Center in New York City.
See the similarity between isolating one compound and not accounting for the whole synergy of a plant?
Applying What We Learned…Seriously Applying 😉
First, remember not to be scared into sagas. Really use that brain to separate your knowledge of essential oils from the hype. Look at the study and ask:
- Was it really using essential oils or isolates?
- Was it done in humans?
- Was it following the proper use of the essential oil?
Next, view the safety information and consider if you need to monitor medication interactions.
For those monitoring hormonal levels specifically (such as those on hormone replacement, birth control, etc.), there’s a lot of caveats to consider for testing, so don’t just base everything on hormonal tests. Also, consider symptoms and other lab monitoring, beyond hormones, if you go this route.
It’s important to keep in mind that anything that impacts liver biotransformation can impact hormones and metabolism. (source, source, source) This ranges from lifestyle factors, such as stress and exposures, to food, nutrients, and supplements, not just essential oils. You may want to have your levels measured at baseline and after using any intervention, not just essential oils, if you are being very cautious and need to stay in a narrow range. If you’ve been using essential oils and your medications for a while with no ill effects, there’s probably nothing to be concerned about, as this is your baseline, so long as you are using them responsibly and open with your providers.
Third as these series proves, the science supports that essential oils will most likely balance the system. There isn’t evidence that clary sage acts as an estrogen or endocrine disruptor.
What Do I Do?
I personally like to use pre-made blends with my clients for hormonal issues. By balancing their stress and emotions, physiology, and biochemistry there is range of beneficial effects that can occur. I also urge women to look into emotional blends, which can impact their physical and emotional health. This can ultimately assist with hormonal modulation. I already discussed what a combination of a little Hope™ oil and belief can do for fertility in this post!
Usually, a psychological action also has a physiological or biochemical impact on the body. For example, hormonal support could be provided by calming emotion from inhalation, effecting stress hormones or enzymes, and providing direct physiological effects as a result of phytoesterogens modulating estrogen levels. (possibly)
Do to the fact that essential oils are a holistic, mind-body tool, I have seen great results with overall wellness, not just hormonal symptom relief!
What essential oil have you used, or are going to try, to help balance your whole body?
What’s your experience with using essential oils for hormonal health?
Many blessings from my heart to yours!
This material is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. (Affiliation link.)
Disclaimer: This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic quality essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and standardized constituents. There is no quality control in the United States, and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only to contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. The studies are not based solely on a specific brand of an essential oil, unless stated. Please read the full study for more information.
Thanks Pixabay and iStock purchases.