Question

I am a breastfeeding mother and i want to know if it is safe to use Tea Tree Oil? Is Tea Tree Oil safe for nursing mother and child? Does Tea Tree Oil extracts into breast milk? Does Tea Tree Oil has any long term or short term side effects on infants? Can Tea Tree Oil influence milk supply or can Tea Tree Oil decrease milk supply in lactating mothers?

Answer by DrLact: About Tea Tree Oil usage in lactation

Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) oil contains primarily terpinen-4-ol, but more than 100 other constituents have been identified, including 1,8-cineole (eucalyptol). Tea tree oil should not be confused with cajeput oil, niauouli oil, kanuka oil, or manuka oil which are obtained from Melaleuca species. Tea tree oil has no specific lactation-related uses. It is usually used topically for the treatment of infections. No data exist on the excretion of any components of tea tree oil into breastmilk or on the safety and efficacy of tea tree oil in nursing mothers or infants. Topical tea tree oil is generally well tolerated, but should not be taken orally. Tea tree oil has estrogenic and antiandrogenic activity, so topical application around the breast should be avoided. Dietary supplements do not require extensive pre-marketing approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Manufacturers are responsible to ensure the safety, but do not need to the safety and effectiveness of dietary supplements before they are marketed. Dietary supplements may contain multiple ingredients, and differences are often found between labeled and actual ingredients or their amounts. A manufacturer may contract with an independent organization to verify the quality of a product or its ingredients, but that does certify the safety or effectiveness of a product. Because of the above issues, clinical testing results on one product may not be applicable to other products. More detailed information #about dietary supplements# is available elsewhere on the LactMed Web site.

Tea Tree Oil Side Effects in Breastfeeding

Nursing mothers who were participating in an experiment on the excretion of 1,8-cineole (eucalyptol) in breastmilk took a 100 mg capsule of 1,8-cineole orally. Although instructed not to, 12 mothers breastfed their infants during the experiment. Mothers reported that none of their infants refused their milk or breastfed less than usual. Two mothers felt that their infants were more agitated a few hours after breastfeeding. A third mother reported that the infant stopped nursing from time to time and "looked puzzled", but resumed nursing. Upon repeating the experiment 6 weeks later, the infant did not react in an unusual way during breastfeeding.[1]

Tea Tree Oil Possible Effects in Breastfeeding

Gynecomastia occurred in a prepubertal boy who was using a grooming product containing tea tree oil. The gynecomastia resolved after the product was discontinued. In vitro testing found that tea tree oil possesses mild estrogenic and antiandrogenic activity.[4] The relevance of these findings has been questioned,[5][6][7][8] but no further testing has been reported to confirm or refute the findings as of the revision date.

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