Lavender oil as a source of allergic antigens

 The results of this study by researchers at Göteborg University in Gothenburg, Sweden have important implications for people who use lavender oil as aromatherapy.

First, the details.

  • The study was designed to measure the development of strong contact allergens in lavender oil.
  • Lavender oil was exposed to air and the autoxidation reaction (interaction with oxygen) was measured.
  • The sensitizing potency of this interaction was measured in mice lymph nodes.
  • Volunteers with patch test reactions to oxidized linalool (a main oxidized constituent of lavender oil) were then tested to determine if air-exposed lavender oil could cause dermatitis.

And, the results.

  • The sensitizing potency of lavender oil increased with increasing exposure to air.
  • Patch testing showed positive reactions to air-exposed lavender oil and its chemical components.

The bottom line?
The authors concluded that when lavender oil is exposed to air it becomes an important source of allergens.

Interesting, considering that lavender is recommended by some to calm atopic dermatitis, and can be found in “natural soaps.”

I think if you’re prone to allergic reactions (atopy), pay attention to the development of allergic reactions if lavender is part of your aromatherapy or an ingredient in “natural” stuff you put on your skin.

9/13/08 21:36 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.