For anyone new to the world of essential oils and aromatherapy, or even for folks who have long been using essential oils but just don’t know, a couple decades ago or so, a man named D. Gary Young brought some lavender seeds to the US from France and planted them on his tiny little farm to grow lavender in order to distill it for essential oils.
Setting the Standard
This man’s passion for purity and natural health and wellness led to him build the largest, most respected essential oil company in the world. His ethics and adherence to integrity and purity have pushed him to create new standards for an industry that had never had such stringency before. The oils his company, Young Living, produces are noted and held up as the standard for Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils internationally, and he has exclusive agreements in countries all over the world to collect, farm, or wildcraft unique and rare species of plants for his oils and products.
Organizations like AFNOR and other entities which govern essential oil quality standards have had to raise their OWN standards in order to catch up with the quality, purity, and potency of Young Living’s oils and essential oil based products. The FDA has even sought him out for creating federal standards for medicinal grades of oils.
Young Living’s oils are sourced from six farms on four continents (and that number is growing as new farms are being added annually.) In addition to their farms, they have contracts to wildcraft plants in areas all over the world, and their Seed to Seal Standard of quality control is present in EVERY oil, whether it is farmed, wildcrafted, or outsourced. Even those oils that they must outsourced, such as peppermint (because no one single entity on the planet grows enough peppermint to meet Young Living’s demand) are still monitored closely from the selection of seed, to the soil in which it is grown (always organically) to the harvesting (some plants must be hand-picked only at certain times of day, and only when it has achieved the right appearance and smell!), distillation (Gary designed and built new distillers to get the maximum potency out of the plants), testing (every single batch of oil is tested to ensure that it has the proper constituents in the right balance to be used therapeutically), to bottling, labeling, and shipping!
Young Living Essential Oils are used by medical professionals, researchers, and alternative healers the world over, and are being used in major hospitals internationally and in the US. The number of hospitals that are introducing YLEO in their care is amazing– and growing!– and testament to the quality, and usefulness of these oils for healing.
YL has been in the news many times for the ways in which they are being used in mainstream medicine.
Young Living is also the only North American company allowed to harvest, distill, and distribute Sacred Frankincense, the species Boswellia Sacra. This specific variety of frankincense it being used to MUCH success in cancer research.
Success Breeds Competition
Because of the company’s standards and practices, Young Living has completely revolutionized the Essential Oil industry. Based on Gary Young’s research, and commitment to purity and potency, even the application and uses for essential oils have changed since the latter part of the 20th century!
Aromatherapy is relatively new on the scene, only being re-discovered in the early 20th century by the Western world quite by accident when a scientist spilled lavender oil on a burn, only to find that the pain went away quickly and the burn healed completely without scarring. This “new” discovery led to a lot of caution and “rules” about how oils could be used, with schools of thought ranging from “smell only” to “apply topically only with a carrier oil.”
Gary turned all of that on its head when he began looking to history and how essential oils have been used by mankind for thousands of years. Oils have been used neat for inhalation, fumigation, topically, and even ingested, and so Gary set about learning how to produce oils that could be used in the same healing capacities as they had been for millennia.
Because of his success in creating a product that worked, and reviving an aspect of the healing arts that had grown dormant in the Western world for centuries, many other Essential Oil companies have sprung up, and begun to grow as well.
Most tout themselves as “good as” or “better than” Young Living, but all they do by this comparison is re-emphasize Young Living as the Industry Leader, and the Standard by which all other essential oils are judged.
Et Tu Brute?
A little over five years ago, a group of executives at Young Living, in breach of their contracts, left in order to form a new essential oil company. The new company was created in the Network Marketing model, just like Young Living, placing itself firmly in direct competition. On top of that, the former employees took with them proprietary information such as formulas, and even distributor lists. They contacted Young Living Distributors to come join their new enterprise.
Not merely unethical by industry standards, these practices are actually illegal.
Then they proceeded to make claims of purity and potency rivaling Young Living, despite the fact that they did not have any of the infrastructure in place to CREATE their own oils and monitor the quality as Young Living has.
But more than that, they set about a smear campaign against Young Living, and deliberately coached their distributors in false accusations and all manner of untrue information. The whole basis of their business model has been to directly market to Young Living Distributors and Consumers and sell to them, enticing them away from Young Living.
After five years of this, Young Living finally brought a legal suit against them for breach of contract, defamation and much much more.
This company is called doTERRA.
In the introductory abstract of the case, it is stated:
1. Young Living brings this action against doTERRA, a competitor in the sale and marketing of therapeutic quality essential oils formed by former executives of Young Living, for false advertising because doTERRA falsely claims that its essential oils are of natural plant origins and “100% pure.” Testing of doTERRA essential oils by independent laboratories shows that, contrary to doTERRA’s widespread claims that its essential oils are 100% pure with no fillers or additives and are “Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade,” doTERRA’s essential oils in fact are adulterated with man-made synthetic compounds and unlisted ingredients that unnaturally sweeten or otherwise alter the aroma and profile of the oils and/or make its oils less expensive to produce.
2. Young Living is amending its original Complaint in this action to specify twenty- one additional doTERRA products that are manipulated with man-made synthetic compounds, inconsistent with product labels, and are otherwise the subject of false advertising by doTERRA. These products include essential oils, essential oil blends, skin care products, and dietary supplements.
3. doTERRA’s false advertising concerning the natural origins and purity of its essential oils, combined with its disparagement of the purity of Young Living’s essential oils, has caused significant harm to Young Living. doTERRA has obtained a segment of the market for essential oils that it would not have obtained if it had truthfully disclosed the characteristics of its products—including that the sweetness of the aromas of its essential oils is not a marker of product purity (as it claims), but instead a result of the adulteration of its essential oils with synthetic chemicals. Accordingly, Young Living seeks monetary damages and/or doTERRA’s ill-gotten profits, in addition to injunctive relief, statutory damages, and costs and attorneys fees. Read the full document here.
The lawsuit goes on to point to and disprove so many of the claims that doTERRA has put forth in their marketing, training and coaching materials and websites. I know for myself, having heard from many people questioning what they were told by doTERRA reps the kinds of falsehoods, inconsistencies and lies that they are taught to spread.
On the one hand, I feel sorry for the doTERRA reps, who themselves are being lied to, and who are being taught unethical business practices. A business model based solely on bashing the competition is no business model at all.
But on the other hand, being naive will only excuse one so far. If folks cannot figure out that they are teaching lies, they will eventually be held accountable for it, even if they “didn’t know.” We are all responsible for doing our own due diligence, and a simple google search can pull up the history of the doTERRA company…
A Shocking Revelation
The most shocking part of the lawsuit (because, let’s face it, ANYONE can see that the company was founded on cheating and underhanded practices– THAT’S not a surprise) is that the claims of the purity of their oils, and being 100% unadulterated, have been proved patently false by means of third party testing.
38. In support of these and its other claims that its essential oils are 100% pure and superior to all other essential oils in the marketplace, doTERRA advertises at www.doterra.com that “at a minimum, doTERRA’s Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade® essential oils are cross tested using mass spectrometry and gas chromatography to ensure both extract purity and composition potency of each batch.”
doTERRA’s Advertisements Are False; Its Peppermint Essential Oil Is Adulterated with Synthetics to Manipulate the Natural Aromas and Flavor
39. In or about March 2013, Young Living asked independent European laboratory Institut des Sciences Analytiques to analyze certain doTERRA oils using gas chromatography- mass spectrometry (“GC-MS”).
40. GC-MS separates the component chemicals in each sample of essential oil and allows the laboratory to identify the chemical makeup of each essential oil.
41. Service Central D’Analyse – Institut des Sciences Analytiques (“SCA”) tested three samples of doTERRA’s peppermint essential oil bearing different lot numbers and expiration dates (representing three consecutive years) using GC-MS.
42. Its lab test results found a manmade synthetic chemical additive, ethyl vanillin, [emphasis mine] in doTERRA’s peppermint essential oil. The body of the report of the peppermint studies conducted by SCA is attached hereto as Exhibit A and incorporated herein by reference.
43.Ethyl vanillin is a manmade compound that gives an intense sweet vanilla aroma and sweet flavor. [emphasis mine]
44. The detection of ethyl vanillin explains the noticeably sweet aroma and flavor[emphasis mine] of doTERRA’s peppermint essential oil.
45. These test results demonstrate that all of doTERRA’s statements concerning the natural origin and purity of its peppermint essential oils constitute false advertisements. [emphasis mine]
46. On information and belief, peppermint essential oil is one of doTERRA’s top selling essential oils.
47. On information and belief, each of doTERRA’s blends containing peppermint essential oil also contains ethyl vanillin.
48. doTERRA actively and willfully misleads consumers and distributors of essential oils concerning the reason its peppermint essential oil aroma is sweeter than natural peppermint essential oils. [emphasis mine] Among other examples, Emily Wright has stated as follows: “doTERRA’s oils are much sweeter. Our peppermint is a good example of that. The Young Living peppermint has a very bitter note to it that burns the throat when swallowed. doTERRA’s peppermint is sweet and smooth when swallowed. The reason for the sweetness has to do with the purity and the high menthol content due to the region in which it is grown. . . . Most people are not used to pure peppermint, and they think it should smell weedy and bitter in order to be ‘pure.’ This is not the case; rather the opposite is true. A pure oil should smell smooth and clean and should be pleasing to the senses.”
So basically, a man made synthetic (carcinogen!) is added to ALL of doTERRA’s Peppermint AND any blend that contains their Peppermint just to make it smell and taste sweeter. This is unconscionable! And then they turn around and insinuate that YL of adulterates their oils!
Are there any depths to which the leaders of this company will not stoop?
It’s Not Just the Peppermint, Folks
The lawsuit goes on to describe the testing of Lavender, (doTERRA’s “100% pure” Lavender Essential Oil Is Adulterated with Synthetic Linalyl Acetate, Geranium, and Chamomile), Frankincense, (doTERRA Falsely Advertises the Species of Its Frankincense Essential Oil), Birch (doTERRA’s “100% Birch Essential Oil” Is Not Distilled from Birch), Balance (doTERRA’s Balance Product Contains Synthetics, but Not Rosewood Essential Oil as Advertised), Citrus Bliss (doTERRA’s Citrus Bliss Contains Synthetics, but Not Vanilla Absolute as Advertised) and on and on.
In fact, ten other products are specifically mentioned and abstracted, and beyond even that there this gem of info:
Other doTERRA Products Contain Synthetics
- doTERRA’s Basil essential oil product contains unlabeled and synthetic linalool.
- doTERRA’s DigestZen essential oil blend product contains the synthetic ethyl vanillin, which is not identified on the product label.
91. doTERRA’s On Guard essential oil blend product contains the synthetic 2-hexen-1-ol, as well as synthetic linalool, which are not identified on the product label.
92. doTERRA’s Peppermint Beadlets product contains the synthetic ethyl vanillin, which is not identified on the product label.
93. doTERRA’s GX Assist dietary supplement contains the synthetic ethyl vanillin, which is not identified on the product label.
94. doTERRA’s Anti-Aging Moisturizer contains the synthetic benzyl acetate instead of Jasmine essential oil as claimed on the product label. This product does not contain biomarkers for Jasmine essential oil.
Why Does It Matter?
Because quality matters. And Integrity matters. And because people matter.
But most importantly, because families are basing their HEALTH and INCOME on this information.
If you are a doTERRA rep, and have read this far… I cannot imagine how you must be feeling right now. I am so so sorry for the grief and pain this may be causing you, or anger and frustration. I am sure this may not be easy for some folks to absorb, and the information may not be acceptable to many. Often, when presented with information that does not fit our paradigm or what we have been taught, we dismiss it out of hand as false and may even lash out at the messenger.
Please, don’t shoot the messenger!
My heart and concern is primarily for each person reading this, that we may ALL find healing for our physical, emotional and spiritual hurts. I pray for every single person who reads this article, that they will read the full lawsuit for themselves. Do your own digging. Find out the full truth.
In interest of full disclosure, I am a Holistic Wellness Consultant with Young Living Essential oils. I have been a distributor through them since 2011, and believe them to be the best product on the market for healing and wellness. I may be compensated for enrollments or purchases made through links on my website.