Is lavender oil bad for you?

The only things I use regularly in my life that might be construed as “earthy crunchy” are a few scented candles and a bit of lavender oil when I take a bath.

Not too much though, otherwise I’ll reek of the stuff. Just enough to make my bath water smell nice for a hot soak that I take if I’m particularly stressed.

But the stuff may not be as harmless as I thought, as this article by By Lucy Papachristou in the Wall Street Journal suggests. The EU might even regulate it as a hazardous substance, which has French lavender farmers ready to revolt.

Alain Aubanel has a new worry on top of the wildfires, high energy costs and unreliable supply chains plaguing his part of southeastern France. He fears that the oil derived from the lavender he grows will soon be labeled in Europe with a skull and crossbones.

Mr. Aubanel is president of a farmers’ union representing 2,000 lavender growers in southern France, whose product turns acres of land a hazy purple in summer. It is a business he says would be threatened if the European Union follows through with proposed changes that would designate lavender oil, used widely to calm nerves and boost low moods, as a hazardous substance.

New research suggests there may be more harmful effects, with one study linking lavender oil to early puberty in girls and another to abnormal breast growth in young boys. Contact with even a small amount of an endocrine disrupter can upset homeostasis, the body’s self-regulating process to maintain internal stability, scientists say.

“The moment you deviate from homeostasis, you do harm in one way, and if you continue to do that, it will have consequences,” said Josef Köhrle, an endocrinologist at the Charité–Berlin University of Medicine and member of the European Society of Endocrinology.

Lavender farmers have been up in arms since news of the pending regulation changes broke last year. I

“Lavender producers are in big trouble. The regulatory impact can kill them,” said Mr. Aubanel, a third-generation lavender farmer in the mountains south of Grenoble. “It is the only crop that allows farmers to make a living out of their work in dry mountain territories,” said grower Alain Aubanel.

The European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, is adopting new rules to regulate substances that may be harmful to humans. One such substance is lavender oil, which some studies show disrupts hormone patterns and contains small amounts of carcinogens.

Mr. Aubanel, who called the planned changes discriminatory, has a simple message for the commission: “Bring back common sense and scientific information.”

I think I’ll still use it now and then, sparingly. I might feel differently if I had small kids.

You can read the rest of the story here.

A lavender farm in Provence.

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