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understanding therapeutic grade essential oils and their benefits


A Great Loss, a Great Legacy

On May 12, 2018, Gary Young, founder of Young Living Essential Oils, passed away due to complications from a series of strokes. Donald Gary Young was born July 11, 1949 in Idaho Falls, Idaho, to Donald Norman Young and Dolly Adrienne Parsons.

The Young family were among the most noted of early American pioneers.They were descended from Dr. Joseph Young, who served in the French and Indian Wars as a surgeon. Joseph married Elizabeth Hayden Treadway, a widow, and had six children, including John Hayden Young, a veteran of the Revolutionary War. John married Abigail “Nabby” Howe, of the Puritan family of Howes, and in 1801, they moved to the remote hills of Vermont, near the small town of Whittingham in Windham County, and in 1807 to Smyrna, New York. Nabby was the mother of eleven children, including Brigham Young, and his younger brother Lorenzo, third great-grandfather of Gary Young.

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Lorenzo Dow Young 3rd great-grandfather of Gary, and  brother of Brigham Young

John R Young great-great grandfather of Gary

John R Young, great-great grandfather of Gary, from Memoirs of John R Young

Lorenzo was the youngest of eleven children born to John Hayden Young and Abigail “Nabby” Howe Young, while Brigham was the ninth child. Lorenzo Young was asked by his brother Brigham to join him as part of the vanguard company on the first expedition of the Mormons to Utah, in 1847.

The pioneer story of the Young family is an incredible one, filled with hardship and adventure. With some understanding of this history, it is not so surprising that Gary Young was born with the same pioneering spirit as his ancestors. He possessed a mind with a unique ability to visualize what he wanted or needed to achieve, and the determination to carry it out.

 

 

 

Gary’s growing up years were spent in Challis, Idaho, in a 30 x 30 cabin his father built 12 miles from town, with no electricity or running water.  He lived with his parents and 5 siblings, accustomed to a life of hard work on the range.

wedding picture Ferra Little Young and Nancy Lewella Green

wedding picture of Gary’s great-grandparents Ferra Little Young and Nancy Lewela Green

 

 

Ferra, Llloyd, Gary, and Guy Young front, Don Young back left

Gary’s great-grandfather Ferra Little Young; Lloyd Young, Gary, Guy Young in front row; Gary’s father Don Young back left

Their home was on  the edge of what is now the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness.

Max, Jack, and Don Young, Gary at Don's feet, Challis, ID

Gary’s uncles Max and Jack, his father Don, and Gary at Don’s feet at the farm in Challis, Idaho

Here the rugged, indomitable mountains rise sharply above the deep canyons with rushing, whitewater rivers.  The Salmon River Canyon, deeper even than the famous Grand Canyon, commands spectacular views of a diverse ecological landscape, defined by some of the oldest minerals visible anywhere on earth. Cirque basins with high alpine lakes, chiseled gorges, wooded ridges, exposed granite bluffs and solitary turrets of the Bighorn Crags paint a landscape with shades of pale silver, green and blue.

 

 

Gary's grandparents RockL and Martha Allen Young

Gary’s grandparents Rock L and Martha Allen Young

Gary's parents when young

Gary’s parents, Dolly and Don Young

In 1967, Gary spent his summer working for the US Forest Service. He rode his horse over 2500 miles through the Idaho wilderness, clearing trails, patrolling for forest fires, and packing supplies to the fire lookouts and guard stations. Saving his money, he packed up his belongings that fall and drove to Canada, where he filed for one of the last parcels through the homestead act. Here he began building his horse and cattle ranch on 320 acres, 30 miles in the wilderness, and logging in the wintertime. His endeavor prospered for the first few years until a severe logging accident in 1973 changed the course of his life forever. Gary had three open skull fractures, and his spinal cord was ruptured in three places where it was classed as an incomplete break. In addition there were 16 broken or crushed vertebrae, and 11 ruptured discs. His pelvis was also broke,  the brachial plexus severed and the right scapula was broken into 9 pieces. Altogether there were 19 broken bones including all his ribs on the right side and several on the left. Initially Gary was not even given a room in the hospital but left in the hall as the doctors felt certain he could not survive this terrible trauma. He did not die but was confined to a wheelchair, told he would never walk again, and lost in a world of mind-numbing painkillers and anti-depressants. Gradually he lost everything, and unable even to commit suicide he determined to fast himself to death by subsisting only on water and lemon juice.

Gary's father Don Young, B.C. 1974

Gary’s father, Don Young in British Columbia 1974, where he taught woodworking and physical activities at a handicap school

After 253 days of this he unexpectedly began to feel movement in his right toe. As his doctors could not offer much help or hope, Gary decided to stop all his medications and began to explore alternative methods for natural healing and pain relief. Gradually he regained mobility, and managed to again make a living logging by driving a truck fitted with a hand clutch and brakes. Over 13 years, Gary recovered enough to walk again, but was in constant pain. He moved to Southern California and continued his education by enrolling in a Naturopathic College. Although it was not accredited, it was the only school at the time offering courses about the topics he wanted to learn, and all of his completed coursework was reviewed by a medical doctor. He built a small research center in Rosarita Beach, Baja California, Mexico, and finally, through a client, he was introduced to essential oils and invited to attend a conference in Geneva, Switzerland, where medical doctors were presenting their research. The conference was a 40-hour course on essential oils taught by Dr. Jean Claude Lapraz, M.D., and Dr. Paul Duraffourd, M.D.  Following the conference, Gary traveled to Paris to spend another week studying with Dr. Lapraz, and brought home one liter each of thirteen different oils.

From that moment, Gary was hooked. With his background in farming, it was natural for him to want to learn to grow the plants himself. He brought the first seeds back from France in 1985, and in 1989, moved to Spokane, Washington. The next year he began planting on a little quarter acre plot there, and began his first distillation experiment on the kitchen stove by welding two pressure cookers together. He sent his first sample of lavender to Dr. Kurt Schnaubelt for testing in 1991. Dr. Schnaubelt was so amazed by the fine quality of the oil, that Gary was excited and encouraged to move forward. He wanted to learn every aspect of producing essential oils, from growing, harvesting, distilling, and testing, and made many, many trips to France, and to Europe, learning from the masters.

Gary became acquainted with Jean-Noël Landel, and through him met Marcel Espieu, who was then president of the Lavender Grower’s Association and had been for 27 years, and Henri Viaud, who lived at the time in the mountains of Provence, France, and was widely known as “the father of distillation”. Growing and distilling lavender had been the main trade of Marcel’s family for eight generationa, but his sons were not interested in pursuing it. He taught Gary all he knew. Mr. Viaud, 82 years old at the time, also accepted Gary as his final student. Gary made several trips, spending many months in all, on Mr. Viaud’s mountain learning the art of distillation, and it was Mr. Viaud who taught Gary to develop his “nose”. Gary continued to learn from Marcel Espieu and Henri Viaud for the rest of their lives.

Gary was very much a hands on person, he wanted to learn by doing, not just from acquiring degrees, or studying by himself from books. He sought out the best and most knowledgeable teachers around the world, determined to learn everything he could about growing and producing the best quality essential oils from the ground up. He traveled to Egypt to study with Dr. Radwan Faraq, and studied chemistry and GC/MS testing at Albert Vielle Laboratory in Vallauris, France. He went on to study GC/MS testing and equipement with Dr. Dr. Hervé Casabianca, who was the leading essential oil and plant molecular analytical chemist in the world. Dr Casabianca also had helped write the French AFNOR standards (Association Française de Normalisation, meaning French Standardization Association).

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Young Living St Maries farm, 2014, photo by Brenda Tippin

In 1992, Gary purchased his first farm, 160 acres in St. Maries, Idaho, and leased a farm in Provence, France in partnership with Jean-Noël. The St. Maries farm was later expanded to 200 acres. In 1993, Gary moved his business to Utah, where he met his wife Mary. They were married the next year, and Young Living was formally incorporated as the number of members grew steadily. Two sons were born to Mary, Jacob and Josef, now teenagers, who share their dad’s love of essential oils and are eager to carry his dream forward. Gary continued to expand his operations, designing larger and more efficient distillers and better farm equipment. Around the same time, Gary became acquainted with Dr. Songqiao Chao, dean of the Science Department at Beijing Technical University. Dr. Chao was visiting one of Mary’s neighbors, Dr. Cyrus McKell, dean of the Botany Department at Weber State University, and Dr. Chao was a guest lecturer there. Dr. McKell thought Dr. Chao would be interested in essential oils and brought him to meet Gary.  Through this meeting, Gary learned about Dr. Chao’s research on the Lycium barbarum wolfberry species growing on the Elbow Plateau in Inner Mongolia, in the NingXia Province of China. Gary was fascinated and became the first to import tons of the NingXia wolfberries for commercial use.  He formulated the popular NingXia red superjuice, the NingXia Nitro energy supplement, and also used the wolfberries in many other products.

The Whispering Springs Farm at Mona, Utah, was added 1995, which became the headquarters and showplace of Young Living. Gary worked tirelessly, experimenting with each different crop to determine the optimal growing and harvest conditions, and best parameters for distilling in order to obtain the maximum quality and highest yield  at the highest quality levels. Gary traveled to the Anadolu University in Eskisehir, Turkey to study with the noted professer, Dr. K. Hüsnü Can Başer (known as Dr Hans Baser) to complete 120 more hours of intense GC analysis. No one worked harder or longer than Gary, and his requirements were stringent, as he was never willing to sacrifice even the minutest amount of quality in order to have more product to sell.

As the company grew, he demanded the same strict requirements of all Young Living partners and suppliers. In 2000, Gary purchased a lavender farm in Simiane La Rotonde, which eliminated the need for leasing the farm in Provence.

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Young Living Percherons at Highland Flats tree farm, 2014, photo by Brenda Tippin

The same year, he discovered an overgrown Christmas tree farm in Naples, Idaho, near the Canadian border, which became the Highland Flats farm, now famous for the distillation of Idaho Balsam Fir, Idaho Blue Spruce, and other conifer oils. In 2006, more than 2300 acres were added to develop the Finca Botanica farm in Guayaquil, Ecuador, along with the Nova Vita Spa and Rejuvenation Center. A school was built for the local children, which became the Young Living Academy, opening its doors in 2007. The Young Living Academy celebrated its first graduating class in 2016. Nearly 300 students have attended this school to date. At Finca Botanica, many oils are distilled including Ylang Ylang, Palo Santo, Mastrante, Lemongrass, Eucalyptus Blue, Dorado Azul, Ocotea, Plectranthus Oregano, Rosa Muerta, Cardamom, Geranium, Hyssop, Ishpingo, Rosemary, Ruta, Thyme, and Vetiver. Chocolate is also produced from the Sasha cocoa trees.

 

Gary and his partner Jean-Noël joined with Benoit Cassan, president of the French Lavender Growers Association, and Jean-Marie Blanc in 2011 to merge their farms with the Simiane La Rontonde in southern France, which is now the largest true lavender farm in the world. In addition to Lavender, the farm also grows Clary Sage, Lavandin, Rosemary, and Einkorn, the ancient grain.

As the Young Living farms continued to expand, so did the need for larger distilleries and more sophisticated laboratories and testing equipment. Under Gary’s guidance, Young Living has developed the most complete and advanced laboratories in both North and South America for identifying and analyzing plant compounds. This includes the only GC/FID/MS combined instrument in the world (gas chromatography, flame ionization detector, and mass spectrometer). The GC in Ecuador was first equiped with dual FID and a two-capillary column system – one 60m polar stationary phase ad one 50m no-polar stationary phase. These were connected to a splitter at the inlet of the GC, evenly dividing the essential oil sample between the two columns. This enabled nearly every component in almost all essential oils to be separated and identified using the extensive retention index library Young Living has compiled. The MS was then connected to this system with a 60m non-polar capillary column, making it the only instrument in the world with three  capillary columns running to one MS and two FID detectors. The Agilent MS was also boosted with a 500,000 component spectral reference library.

Partnering with Dr. Mahmoud Suhail, a medical doctor who is the scientific advisor at the Dhofar Research Plant, pediatrician at Al Afivah Specialized Medical Complex, and chief Scientist for the AYUB S42 Research Project at the Sultanate of Oman, Young Living was granted permission in 2010 to build the first large commercial distillery for the extraction of Sacred Frankincense (Boswellia sacra) in modern times.

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Mary and Gary at Highland Flats Tree Farm, ribbon-cutting ceremony 2014, photo by Brenda Tippin

The Highland Flats distillery was expanded in 2014 and new equipment added including three 21,000 -liter and one 6500-liter extraction chambers. Gary proudly demonstrated the new system to members who attended a special ribbon cutting ceremony. It was an emotional moment as he recalled the many obstacles which had to be overcome along the way towards achieving the new system, which was and still is, the largest fully automated distillery for essential oils in the world. Later that year, Young Living was able to purchase land in British Columbia and established the Northern Lights Farm near Fort Nelson to distill Black Spruce, Ledum, Yarrow, and White Spruce. In Europe, the Dalmatia Aromatic Farm was added in Split, Croatia for distilling Helichrysum, Sage, Juniper, and Bay Laurel.

Gary has also established many partner farms which include the Kona Reforestation Project on the Big Island of Hawai, for the production of Royal Hawaiian Sandalwood; the Balkan Botanical Farm in Manolovo, Bulgaria, for Roman Chamomile, Rose, and Valerian; the Taiwan Cooperative Farm in Taitung Taiwan for Jade Lemon, Hong Kuai, Xiang Mao, and Camphor Wood; the Maydi Frankincense Distillery in Dubai, UAE, for Frankincense; the Perth Sandalwood Farm in Perth, Australia, for Sacred Sandalwood; the Outback Botanical Reserve in Darwin, Australia, for Blue Cypress; and the Amanzi Amahle Farm in Johannesburg, South Africa, for Tea Tree, Eucalyptus Radiata, Lemon, and Orange. The most recent partnership established was in March 2018 with the Labbeemint Partner Distillery in White Swan, Washington, for the production of Pacific Northwest sourced peppermint oil. Labbeemint has been a family run operation since the 1940s.

As with all Young Living partners, Gary insisted on diligently searching for only the most meticulous operations able to meet Young Living’s stringent standards for Young Living Therapeutic Grade™, a term Gary coined in 1991. This term was originally intended simply to convey the promise that Young Living would ensure its oils would not only be pure, but would contain optimal ranges of the components needed to provide therapeutic benefit.  For example, Gary explained, “Peppermint oil should contain between 38 and 47 percent menthol to be therapeutic. If the summer is wet and rainy, menthol will be approximately 24 percent but will still be pure. It is just not therapeutic.”

As more and more companies began to compete in the essential oil market during the last fifteen years or so, virtually all of them, despite wide ranges in quality, claim to be “pure” and “therapeutic grade”. Consequently, the term was assumed by many to simply be a marketing phrase and of no value as there is no grading system nor independent authority which grades and determines the quality of essential oils. However, this was never what Gary meant.  The entire phrase was Young Living Therapeutic Grade™, and was intended to denote that the oils bearing this mark met Young Living’s own internal standards for the range and balance of therapeutic constituents necessary to make such a claim. These levels were determined by collecting extensive research, and often, in the case of newly discovered oils, conducting additional research.

Most recently added to Young Living’s own farms, the Skyrider Wilderness Ranch in Tabiona, Utah, was carefully chosen by Gary as a site for retreats, as well as a place where he could perform research on new botanicals and distillation. Gary was also in the process of moving the majority of Young Living’s Einkorn grain production to this farm. Altogether, as a result of Gary’s tireless energy, Young Living has more than 16 global and and partner farms around the world, international offices in more than a dozen countries, over 3000 employees, and well over 4 million members worldwide. The company has continued to grow and has achieved more than $1 billion in annual sales for the past three consecutive years, winning many awards.

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Gary and Bandido, his dancing Friesian stallion, photo courtesy Young Living

Gary always loved horses, and Young Living breeds and maintains a string of champion Percherons which are shown regularly. Many of these are also used for work at both the Mona farm and for horse logging at Highland Flats.  Gary used other horses as well including Bandido, the dancing Friesian stallion, and several others which he regularly rode on his many trips to the mountains. He also used the horses in his wild west shows for visitors, and for jousting, one of his favorite sports.

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Gary jousting, photo courtesy Young Living

Gary also dreamed for many years of someday competing in a dogsled race.  This goal was realized in 2017 when he competed in two races in Alaska, finishing both and mushing over 500 miles for days in temperatures of -30° across the frozen Alaska wilderness.

Gary’s adventures in traveling around the world are too numerous to recount, but all of this is well documented and many thousands of members have accompanied him on these journeys and can attest from personal knowledge of the mentors and experts Gary studied with and the places he has been.

It was not always easy.  Not everyone understood Gary, especially not his competitors.  At the time Gary started, interest in aromatherapy was just beginning to be revived by Robert Tisserand’s popular book, The Art of Aromatherapy.  The early history of essential oil use in America had long been forgotten.  Once common for both medicinal use and home remedies, a number of essential oils, plants and seeds were brought to America by early settlers. Other medicinal uses of local plants were learned from Native Americans.  Many essential oils were readily available at drugstores and regularly used by the general public for both topical and internal applications.

Even the federal government for years had farms and distilleries for producing essential oils to study their medicinal benefits. However, with the establishment of the FDA in 1906, and the growing demands of the flavor and fragrance industries, the market for personal use of pure essential oils was largely forgotten, and synthetic or restructured oils were generally more profitable. Many early aromatherapists inspired by Tisserand’s book wanted to feel their services and products were unique. They resented this farm boy from Idaho who made claims about traveling the world, and studying with experts and growing and distilling his own oils to make them available for the general public. They resented his insistence on quality standards and testing, which many of them could not afford.

Some groups even devoted remarkable amounts of time, energy and discussion to shutting down Young Living. Efforts were made by a few to spread information that would damage the reputation of Young Living, or Gary himself and put a stop to his teaching. Led by some of the same original individuals, a few such groups persist. These attacks were hurtful to Gary, but he never allowed them to deter his vision, which was never anything more than wanting to help people and to learn and understand how to use the benefits of essential oils for wellness. Gary was never driven by gaining profit, he simply wanted to learn and to share the excitement of what he learned with others.  The Multi-level Marketing business model was chosen simply as a way to share the oils with more people, and to help people develop lasting friendships and relationships in the pursuit of their wellness goals. In fact, Young Living was never a real threat to small aromatherapy businesses as it fills a completely different niche, and there is plenty of room for both. What it did do was raise interest and awareness of essential oils for all essential oil companies in general, as well as helping raise awareness of the need for purity and quality.

Young Living grew and prospered because of Gary’s tireless energy and unfailing demand for quality. Everyone who stayed around him for any length of time was inspired to do the same. Rather than sitting back to enjoy his profits, Gary poured them right back into the company, building more farms, distilleries, laboratories, and insisting on the latest and most technologically advanced testing equipment. Many times he brought Dr. Hervé Casabianca over to calibrate his GC/MS equipment and to train his scientists in using these instruments and learning to accurately interpret the results.

Another side of Gary was his unfailing kindness and extreme generosity.  Two major earthquakes with numerous aftershocks devastated Nepal during 2015, resulting in more than 9000 fatalities and the loss of nearly a million homes. Many businesses and companies and individuals reached out to help – but on visiting Nepal in 2016, Gary was appalled to find the extent of  damage that still existed, and the horrible impacts to families and children in a country desperately struggling to recover. Seeing this, Gary was not satisfied to simply offer donations. He had to help. He personally went to Nepal on many trips, spending literally months of his own time, brought them a brick-making machine, and taught them how to use it. Each trip he brought more Young Living members to help. To date, 112 homes and 2 schools have been rebuilt in Yarsa, Nepal.

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Gary dogsledding, photo courtesy Young Living 2017

Gary’s Alaskan dogsled races last year were not just for fun, but his efforts and endurance in the bitter freezing temperatures were to help raise more money for Nepal, and he succeeded in raising $40,000 more to help build 8 more homes. Through the 9-year-old Young Living Foundation, Gary also helped with many more causes, including raising more than $250,000 for people affected by natural disasters.  Two clinics in Jinja, Uganda, were built, treating more than 400 people a week, through Young Living Foundation Partner Sole Hope. Altogether, through many partners and projects, Gary’s guidance as Chairman of the Board of the Young Living Foundation led to providing more than $6 million in aid to those in need.

Gary will be greatly missed, by his family, friends, and Young Living members everywhere, but he has left a truly remarkable legacy that will continue for years to come.

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Gary at Highland Flats ribbon cutting, 2014, photo by Brenda Tippin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Historic Young Family photos courtesy Family Search

 

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Essential Oil History and the Safety Debate – Part 2, The Peppermint King of Kalamazoo

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Albert May Todd, from:The Todd Family in America by John Edwards Todd, 1920

 

Albert May Todd was born on June 3, 1850 in Joseph County, Michigan, near Nottawa.  He was the youngest of ten children born to  Alfred and Mary Ann Hovey Todd, who were farmers of Scotch ancestry.  The name Todd is derived from the Scottih word tod, meaning fox. This is represented by historic Todd famly crest which bears three fox heads and a fox running away with a goose and the motto “Oportet Vivere”, meaning “one must live (even if he has to steal for it)”.

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Todd Family Crest from: The Todd Family in America by John Edwards Todd, 1920

Later family members chose not to display this somewhat questionable motto and modified it to show  in addition to the three fox heads, simply a fox sitting rather than stealing a goose.

Albert’s father Alfred, was born in Marcellius, New York in 1799, and had moved his family to Michigan in 1835 when he purchased an 80 acre farm near the village of Nottawa.  At that time, the land was still thick, primeval forest which had to be cleared, and only about about 45 acres were suitable for growing crops.  However, the Todds were staunch Presbyterians and industrious farmers and supported their large family entirely with the produce of this little farm, which had to be drawn by horse and wagon sixty miles to the nearest railroad.

During his first few years of school, Albert walked a mile and a half every day to the little red schoolhouse near Nottawa.  Later a school was built on the Todd farm and he attended classes there in between the many chores and farm work that needed to be done.  He attended and graduated from high school in the little town of Sturgis, seven miles from his home.

After this, he joined with his next older brother Oliver, in cultivating and distilling peppermint oil. Peppermint had first been  introduced to St. Joseph County, Michigan by a Mr. Sawyer, who brought roots from Ohio in 1835.  He planted them on the White Pigeon Prairie, selling his operation to Glover & Earle the next year.  They continued for a time but the soil in this area proved not to be well suited for the peppermint crops.

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A.M. Todd Company Advertisement, from: Prices Current, Fuller & Fuller Co., Chicago, 1906-07

Another pair of brothers, Marshall and Orrin Craw, obtained peppermint roots about 1840 and introduced them to the oak openings in the northern part of the Florence township, where they grew quite well.  The peppermint business was then taken to a commercial level by John Smith and Harrison Ranney, two farmers who had gained experience in peppermint growing and distilling in  Wayne County, New York. H.G. Hotchkiss of Lyons, in Wayne County, New York  had taken steps in 1844 to establish a monopoly by paying farmers in New York and Michigan to limit their crops for several years.  After about three years, he had gained such a large fortune, he ceased to enforce it, and bought only from New York farmers.  This encouraged the Michigan farmers to expand production to the extent that by 1850, 100,000 to 150,000 pounds of peppermint were being produced win St. Joseph County alone, which more than all the rest of the crops in the world combined. Mr. Henry Hall of Three Rivers was the largest dealer at that time, with a 900 acre farm and four distilleries.

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Peppermint farm, St. Joseph County. From The Pharmaceuitcal Era, Vol IV, 1890

Young Albert Todd was fascinated by all of this and felt sure he could make a prosperous living.  He borrowed $100, and rented five acres from his father,  in partnership with his brother and established the A.M. Todd Company in 1869 when he was just 19 years old. The Todd brothers made enough money that by 1873, Albert was able to attend Northwestern University in Illinois for a time, where he studied chemistry. However, due to illness he was obliged to discontinue his studies and traveled to Europe to recuperate.

Evidently, the trip served Albert well, and he took advantage of the time to study Eureopean methods of peppermint cultivation and distillation.  Meanwhile, Oliver decided he did not wish to continue in the peppermint business and asked his brother to take it over, so Albert bought him out.  With the knowledge of chemistry he had learned while studying at college, and his observations while traveling in Europe, he set about planning to improve upon these crude methods and develop superior methods for cultivating and distilling the crop.  Albert went heavily in debt, and many laughed as he purchased 1400 acres of black, mucky swamp land for $25,000 to develop his new peppermint enterprise. Extensive work had to be done clearing the land of tangled wood-growth, stumps and roots, and miles of deep drainage ditches had to be dug.  And after all that, the land was still so boggy that the horses had to be fitted with strange, cumbersome, “bog shoes” in order to avoid sinking deeply into the mire.  These round, wooden contraptions about a foot in diameter, resembled snowshoes and were held on with straps.

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A.M. Todd Campania Peppermint Farm, Allegan County Michigan, 1640 acres.                    From Michigan Bureau of Labor Annual Report, 1903

Nevertheless, up to that time, the reputation of Michigan peppermint was not the best, so Albert had his work cut out for him, despite the large production.  Many farmers were not careful about weeding their crops which reduced the quality of the oil.  Adulteration was often practiced by diluting the peppermint oil with one third rectified spirits. Turpentine or pennyroyal was also sometimes used by unscrupulous dealers to extend the oils and increase their profits. The Hotchkiss brand continued to be the gold standard of purity in peppermint oil, and Albert set out to compete with this.

Over the next several years, Albert continued to add to his holdings.  He called his farm Campania, building it to 1640 acres, and keeping about half of it planted in peppermint.  He added huge barns, comfortable houses for himself and his employees with libraries and reading rooms, distilleries, warehouses, ice houses, windmills, and more, turning it into a small village.  Albert treated his employees kindly and fairly, feeling they would do better service, and this practice served him well. He then added a second farm, which he called Mentha, consisting of 2000 acres, and finally a 7000 acre farm farther north which was called the Sylvania Range.  Being thrifty, he made the land work for him, and raised a herd of 500 shorthorn cattle, letting them graze in summer, and feeding them mint hay during the winter months, a diet which they thrived upon.

Altogether, these farms totalled 10,640 acres, making the peppermint farms of A.M. Todd the largest in the world.  Like H.G. Hotchkiss had done, Albert obtained Black Mitcham peppermint root stock from England in 1883, and developed the black peppermint variety which yielded more oil.   Albert also developed refining and redistilling techniques.  His brand of Crystal White double distilled peppermint, which he patented in 1875, became well known and won many prizes.  These included a Gold Medals and diplomas at the United States Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, 1876; the Chicago World’s Fair Exposition, 1893; the Paris World’s Fair Exposition, 1900; the Pan American World’s Fair Exposition in Buffalo, New York, 1901; and the St. Louis World’s Fair Exposition, 1904.

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From The Chemist and Druggist, July 1894

Albert was among the first to develop tests and standards to maintain the quality of his oils.  He also tested and exposed fraudulent oils, including some who attempted to forge his Crystal White peppermint oil. His Mentha farm developed into an entire small community of its own with school, store, and post office.  This rare video from the Kalamazoo Public Library  shows actual footage of the Mentha farm, and the planting, harvesting, and distilling of peppermint oil there.

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From American Druggist, December 1889

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From The Druggist’s Ready Reference, 1887

Meanwhile, Albert ran for Governor of Michigan in 1894 under the Prohibition Party, but was unsuccessful.  He tried in 1895 to fill a vacant seat in Congress during a special election, which was also unsuccessful, but finally won a Congressional seat on the Democratic ticket in 1896, serving until 1898, but failing to win reelection.  Over the years, he made  several trips to Europe, and in addition to carrying out details of his peppermint business, he also collected fine art, rare books, and other artifacts, collecting more than 10,000 pieces of memorabilia.

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Albert M. Todd for Congress. From Wikimedia Commons, U.S. Public Domain

By the time H.G. Hotchkiss died in 1897, Albert was poised to take the lead in the peppermint industry, and he came to be known as “The Peppermint King of Kalamazoo”.   The Hotchkiss brand maintained its stellar reputation and many of the European buyers, as well as pharmaceutical companies and other longstanding customers, chose to stay with it.  However, new  markets for peppermint oil in the flavor industry were expanding rapidly.  William Wrigley Jr. began marketing his famous DoubleMint gum, flavored with peppermint oil, and soon BeechNut, American Chicle, and other companies began selling widely popular gums and candies flavored with peppermint oil.

In 1924, verticillium wilt, a soil-borne fungus was discovered in Michigan crops.  This was followed by a severe frost in late May of 1925 which decimated the peppermint crops.  As production of peppermint oil suffered, prices rose, and by 1925 the price of peppermint oil had gone up from  $4.50 to $32 a pound.  The A. M. Todd company went to work developing disease resistant strains.  Albert died in 1931 at the age of 81, but the A.M. Todd company continued to thrive, passing down through generations of his family until it was sold in 2011 to the Swiss Company, Wild Flavors.   The company continues to operate as a subsidiary of Wild Flavors at its location in Kalamazoo, Michigan, although it no longer grows any peppermint. Most peppermint production has moved west to Oregon and Washington, with Oregon currently the leading producer of peppermint oil, representing 34% of the nation’s crop.

 

 

 


Truth in Advertising – Does Pure Really Mean Pure?

The question has been raised, “At what percent true essential oil can an oil still be labeled as “pure”. In other words, if an adulterated oil can still be labeled as “pure”, does it have to contain any essential oil at all?”  This is a very good question.  Some FDA guidelines on labeling The FDA’s guidelines for Fragrances in Cosmetics provide some general guidance, but still it is vague and doesn’t really provide definitive answers.  For any essential oils intended for use as dietary supplements or food flavorings, multiple ingredients are supposed to be listed on the label, however some ingredients considered as trace are not always listed.  Essential oils intended for topical use are generally considered cosmetics.  However, the FDA allows the words “fragrance” or “flavor” to be used instead of specifying exactly what those are.  And sometimes fragrances or flavors can be synthetic, in fact, when these words are used they most likely do contain synthetics.

As one example, NOW Foods Lavender oil which may be purchased on Amazon for as little as $21.16 for a 4 oz bottle is labeled as 100% pure lavender oil.  So what does that mean?  Some have used this to suggest that companies who sell oils through Multi-level marketing and charge much more for lavender sold in 15 ml bottles are overcharging their customers because NOW sells for so much less and has good reviews. But, not necessarily. Young Living’s Lavender retails for $30.92,  dōTERRA’s lavender retails for $28, and  AMEO’s retails for $31.67, and all have wholesale pricing for members.  Original Swiss Aromatics, which is not an MLM company, sells their genuine and authentic fine lavender at $28.10 for 15 ml, so there is actually not much difference in the pricing of this oil between these companies known or claimed to have high quality oils. They also have different descriptions on their labels such as “Therapeutic Grade”, “Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade”,  “Clinical Grade”, etc., all of which in fact are simply terms to describe each company’s individual quality standards.

There is no independent body which certifies that oils are pure, therapeutic, or clinical grade.  Any oil properly grown, harvested, and distilled without use of chemicals or pesticides, without synthetic chemicals or additives, or without being extended with cheaper oils of other species, and properly tested, will be therapeutic and able to penetrate cells, there is no difference between clinical grade or therapeutic grade if all these conditions have been met.  The growing body of scientific and clinical studies clearly demonstrates this, as oils from different sources have been used for these. However, there are very few companies who actually monitor this entire process and who consistently have trained experts involved with the whole process for every single source.

Companies which post test results of their oils online may seem impressive, but the truth is, the vast majority of consumers do not know how to read these tests.  Also, posting a test result for a particular batch number is really no different than any of the other claims on the label. The consumer who has purchased the oil from that batch number still has to rely on the company’s word that the test displayed really is the actual test done on the bottle of oil they are holding.  The average consumer also cannot accurately judge quality or purity simply by which one smells the nicest.  Unless you have a lot of experience using essential oils for years, and/or had extensive training in essential oils chemistry, your nose will only tell you what you think smells “nice”, you will not be able to break down the complexity of a fragrance or really understand the nuances.   The majority of companies in the U.S. selling essential oils are simply brokers or rebottlers.  They buy the oil from a distiller who tells them it is pure (and very often the distiller is not the grower and it may even have passed through several sources before reaching the company who bottles and sells it under their own label. Or they may buy the raw material and have someone distill it for them.  Even plant materials which have been painstakingly kept from contamination at this stage still may have lost much of their potency by the time they reach a distillery, but are then bottled and sold as “pure”, which may be entirely truthful, but the quality is simply not the same.

Then there are many other companies with prices in between the seemingly expensive brands to low-priced ones. All these oils, as well as many others are labeled “pure”, and we will get more into different companies later on, but for the serious user of essential oils there is actually much more to consider.  If you look at the NOW Foods lavender you will see it says Lavandula officinalis (spp). But it says 100% pure lavender, and the Latin name looks authentic so many people are not even going to pay any attention to that, or know what it means.

Lavender is part of the mint family and in fact there are at least 39 different known species, all of which have differences in their chemical profiles, their properties, and therapeutic uses.  Then on top of that, there can be many more variations as to quality and complexity depending on where and how the lavender was grown, soil and growing conditions for that particular crop, how and when it was harvested, how long and what was done with it between harvest and distillation, how it was distilled, the quality of the equipment used, temperature, pressure, etc, and the knowledge of the persons distilling it.  Then, how it is tested, bottled, sealed, and delivered to the consumer.  There are also other considerations with lavender, for instance whether it is wild, whether it is grown from seed, or from cloned plants.

The name  Lavandula officinalis is sometimes used interchangeably with Lavandula angustifolia, or it is occasionally referred to as Lavandula vera.  However, when the latin name is followed by the letters “spp”, this means multiple species.  All of which are lavender.  So NOW Foods may be truthful when they say 100% pure lavender, and the Lavandula officinalis (spp) is right on the front of the bottle.  But, they also sell “organic” lavender, for as low as $15.69 for 1 oz.  This is still about half the price of the others but certainly far more expensive than their 4 oz bottle, although both claim to be 100% pure lavender and are labeled Lavandula officinalis (spp).  So, you don’t really know what species of lavender are in these bottles, or even if they came from a single crop.  They tell you it is steam distilled from the flower, and they do conduct some testing. Depending  on what different people want, the NOW lavender might be adequate, but it most definitely is not the same and really does not provide evidence that the others are overpriced.

While multiple ingredients are supposed to be listed on the labels, strictly speaking, “pure” seems to be a term that has not really been standardized or defined by the FDA as yet.  The FDA is currently asking for public comments on use of the term “natural”.  So in short, “pure”, may not always mean “pure”, and the question of purity may not really be all you want to find out. An article by Valparaiso University Law School Assisant Law Professor Nicole Negowetti provides a good overview of the general issue.

Next:  The Research of Dr. Jean Valnet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To  learn more about different therapeutic grade essential oils and how they may help support a healthy lifestyle, please visit The Oil Well.

For more information on the leading essential oil companies, their history, testing, and quality standards, check out the 45 page Young Living/DoTerra Report.

 

 

 

If this information has been helpful, you may make a small donation to help defray the costs of research.  Thank you!
These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and this information is for educational purposes only and not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.

 


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Forgotten – Essential Oils and the US Government’s Little Known Role – Essential Oils During the Past Century Part III

What was happening in America with essential oils during the time when the Gattefossé brothers were discovering their therapeutic benefits?  The first Pharmacopeia in America was published by the Medical Society of Massachusetts in 1808, followed by  the very first United States Pharmacopeia, published in 1820.  The idea of a National Pharmacopeia was first proposed when Dr. Lyman Spalding  submitted the idea to the Medical Society of the County of New York.  The founding U.S. Pharmacopeial convention was held in Washington D.C. for the purpose of creating a system of standards and a National Formulary.  Essential oils were included in these works.

At the time René-Maurice Gattefossé applied lavender oil to the severe burns he suffered in a lab explosion, a number of essential oils  had been in regular use by U.S. doctors for more than a hundred years.  At that time, the United States Pharmacopeia was revised every ten years. During the first hundred years oils were included as individual pure volatile oils with directions for steam distillation, as important components for medicated waters, medicated spirits, liniments, ointments and other compounds.  About 10 oils were included in the 1808 Pharmacopeia of Massachusetts.  A few of the less common oils would come and go but overall the number of oils climbed over the years, peaking in 1890 with around 44 oils mentioned.  However, by this time, synthetic and artificial forms of wintergreen were included, and the 1900 version included several more synthetic forms and isolated components of volatile oils. By 1910 the number of individual pure distilled oils had tapered off to about 35 while synthetic and artificial versions and isolated components continued to increase. Later, the publications of the United States Pharmacopeia and the National Formulary were joined into one volume and published annually.

In 1900, Congress transferred 400 acres of the historic Arlington estate in Virginia to the Secretary of Agriculture for use as a general experimental farm. The Pentagon is now located on this site. This became one of several sites where the U.S. Government conducted what they referred to as “drug plant investigations”, which would continue for more than 50 years, managed by the Bureau of Plant Industry which was established in 1901.  The U.S. Government was in fact growing medicinal plants for research purposes, and among The Bureau of Plant Industry’s other projects studying various crops, farming methods, plant diseases and so forth, the project for drug plant investigations specifically included a number of experimental stations, ranging from botanical gardens to small farms used for the cultivation of aromatic plants, which they steam distilled to produce essential oils. Some were researched for perfume, fragrance, and food flavorings, while others were recognized by the government for their medicinal and therapeutic properties. Several government reports and bulletins were published mentioning details of cultivating aromatic plants for producing essential oils, and the methods and equipment for distilling them.

In 1906, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was signed into law by President Theodore Roosevelt with the Pure Foods and Drugs Act, which prohibited interstate commerce in foods or drugs which were misbranded or adulterated. While the law was intended to protect the consumer from unnecessary and potentially harmful additives to foods and drugs, the FDA sometimes had their own way of regulating this.  One of the early problems they sought to solve began in 1907 with the certification of food colors. Merchants had begun a practice of injecting foods with dyes to enhance their appearance and make them more appealing to the consumer, and to cover up defects.  Dyes were also added to drugs.  Some of these dyes were quite harmful and so the FDA, instead of forbidding the practice of adding these chemical dyes, they decided they would screen them all and certify which ones could be used.  In 1928 they certified more than 600,000 pounds of dyes permitted for use in foods and drugs. (The Arlington Experiment Farm, U.S. Department of Agriculture Handbook for Visitors, 1928). This was thought to be a great improvement because the certification rules were so strict.

Dyes were then also added to cosmetics and the practice of using FDA certified dyes continues today.  A huge list of these dyes which the FDA has removed from the list or added further restrictions due to safety issues and problems discovered after they had been in use for some time may be found on the FDA’s Color Additive Status List.  The FDA collects substantial fees for color additive certification which are regulated under Title 21 Code of Federal Regulations Section 80.10  They get paid by the pound for these certifications and just in the quarter from Oct 1- Dec 31 2015 certified more than 6 million pounds of dyes added to foods, drugs, and cosmetics.  In recent years, the safety of dyes remaining on the FDA’s approved list has come into question. The Global Healing CenterCenter for Science in the Public Interest,  Dr. Oz and Dr. Mercola are just a few who warn of the dangers of several dyes the FDA still allows.

The more extensive Food, Drugs and Cosmetics Act was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1938. This law required FDA approval before any new drug could be brought to market, and also prohibited false therapeutic claims.  Through the years, the FDA has developed a very broad interpretation of this law which includes prohibiting therapeutic claims that are true, and by defining any random product as a drug if you intend to use it for something they consider a disease.  This also includes a long list of words which could be associated with various diseases.   For instance, if you use something to help with inflammation or joint pain, in the eyes of the FDA that product is likely to be considered to have become a drug.  In 2010 for example, the FDA sent a warning letter to Diamond Foods declaring that their walnuts had become drugs due to therapeutic claims they had on their website based on extensive scientific research.  The FDA collects substantial Application, Product, and Establishment Fees for each new drug. In addition, Product and Establishment Fees are assessed annually.  In 2014, the most recent year for which a financial report is available, the FDA collected more than $796 million in prescription drug user fees. 45 new drugs were approved by the FDA for 2015.  FDA approved drugs, used as prescribed, are, according to their own website the 4th leading cause of death in America. 

Meanwhile, in 1939, the work of the Arlington Experimental farm was transferred to the Research Station at Beltsville, Maryland.  By 1952, the Bureau of Plant Industry had a 14,000 acre Agricultural Research Center at this location with 2100 employees, of which more than 900 were scientists. Experiments on growing aromatic medicinal plants and distilling their essential oils were still being conducted at this time.  The next year, 1953, the Bureau of Plant Industry became part of the Agricultural Research Service, (ARS) which continues to the present.    Both the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Agricultural Library are filled with peer reviewed clinical studies which have been done on various medicinal and therapeutic uses of essential oils.  Some of these studies are done by ARS scientists.  The interest in scientific research on essential oils and the growing body of evidence that they do have valuable therapeutic uses continues to expand despite the FDA’s proclamation that only a drug (approved by them, and at great expense paid to them) can be used to prevent, treat, cure, or mitigate a disease.

Unfortunately, the essential oil research and experiments conducted by the U.S. Government were little known and mostly buried in obscure government reports and bulletins which few average citizens had access to, or took the time to wade through them if they did.  With the development of the pharmaceutical industry, the major focus became isolating active compounds of various essential oils believed to be responsible for medicinal effects, and creating synthetic versions which could be approved  by the FDA as new drugs.  Synthetic versions were also often used for food additives and flavorings, as well as for perfumes and fragrances.  Thus, despite the government’s role, the essential oil industry in the U.S. was following a very different path than the one in France influenced by the research René-Maurice Gattefossé.   Pure essential oils were very scarce in the U.S.  Their therapeutic properties were largely forgotten, and the  development of aromatherapy would take many decades before finding its way to the U.S.

Next:  The Research of Dr. Jean Valnet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To  learn more about different therapeutic grade essential oils and how they may help support a healthy lifestyle, please visit The Oil Well.

For more information on the leading essential oil companies, their history, testing, and quality standards, check out the 45 page Young Living/DoTerra report.

 

 

 

If this information has been helpful, you may make a small donation to help defray the costs of research.  Thank you!
These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and this information is for educational purposes only and not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.

 


Essential Oils – Forgotten Wisdom or Simply a Fad? An Overview of Essential Oils During the Past Century Part I

On the surface, this question is easy to answer. Essential oils are here to stay. Their history goes back thousands of years and they are still here because they have never been quite forgotten.

According to a recent study published by Zion Research, the global essential oils market is poised for rapid growth and expected to reach $9.8 billion during the next four years (by 2020), increased from an estimated $5.5 billion in 2014. Another study conducted by Grand View Research confirms the trend, projecting the market to reach $11.67 billion by 2022.

Essential oils have been used to support health and wellness around the world for thousands of years, and were also an important part of Biblical tradition. The high demand of essential oils for the flavor and fragrance industries during the last century resulted in many companies marketing a wide range of oils.  With no standardization, many inexpensive oils claiming to be pure are actually extended or adulterated with synthetic chemicals or cheap substitutes. Consumers have been confused by different marketing terms such as pure, organic, therapeutic grade, certified pure therapeutic grade, or even clinical grade.  In the United States there is no authoritative independent body at this time which grades or certifies the quality of essential oils.  These are all marketing terms, defined by the companies who sell them.  Oils from one company labeled as therapeutic grade are not necessarily the same as oils labeled therapeutic grade by a different company.  Oils labeled “certified” therapeutic grade simply means that company certifies (attests, assures, states it is true) that their oils are therapeutic grade. Clinical grade is yet another marketing term which implies these oils are superior because they have clinical studies, doctors use them, etc.  But again, there is no grading system. Other oils labeled as pure, organic or therapeutic may have just as many or more clinical studies, used by doctors, etc.  For anyone seriously interested in using essential oils, especially for therapeutic purposes, it is important to learn as much as you can about essential oils, and the suppliers from which you obtain them.  Increasing concerns about essential oil quality have led to higher standards and more testing.

In this series, we will attempt to focus on the history of essential oils during the past century, the various pioneers, researchers, doctors, scientists, and some of the top essential oils companies leading up to the present.  As essential oils continue to grow in popularity, it is certain they are here to stay.  Coming next, The Real Story of René-Maurice Gattefossé.

To  learn more about different therapeutic grade essential oils and how they may help support a healthy lifestyle, please visit The Oil Well.

For more information on the leading essential oil companies, their history, testing, and quality standards, check out the 45 page Young Living/DoTerra report.

If this information has been helpful, you may make a small donation to help defray the costs of research.  Thank you!

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and this information is for educational purposes only and not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.