oilwellessentials4health

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.

Gary and Mary Young Highland Flats_20140215 _1450

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.

Gary Young bandido med2

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.

Gary joustingmed

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.

Gary dogsledding Iditarod trial med

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 ingestion debate – is Frankincense oil the same as turpentine?

Recently, a discussion was posted on a social media page comparing the GCMS for a high quality frankincense oil with a GCMS for turpentine paint thinner from Home Depot as a chemist’s perspective on whether or not essential oils should be ingested. It was stated that while the point is not that turpentine is exactly the same thing as frankincense, but rather that they are the same class of molecules (terpenes) with many of the same molecules in common, a-pinene being the dominant component of both, and both distilled from tree resin and therefore have solvent properties. This example was given to caution people against putting 10 drops of an essential oil with a dietary supplement label in your water and drinking it down multiple times per day.

The information which follows is not intended to be an argument about whether you should or should not ingest essential oils, but about sifting the information out there which might influence your choices.

Ok, first of all, there are no essential oils with dietary supplement labels sold by any company which the suggested use on the label directs one to add 10 drops to water multiple times per day. In fact there are none which give a suggested dosage on the label of 10 drops at all, much less added to water multiple times per day, so this is an exaggeration to say the least. It may be true there are some individuals who recommend adding 10 drops of an essential oil to your drinking water and doing this multiple times per day. The unspoken implication here is that typical recommendations for water consumption are 8-10 8 oz glasses per day so that could be 80-100 drops of essential oil per day. There are 100 drops of oil in a 5 ml bottle. One company which offers Frankincense oil as a dietary supplement is priced at $29.75 for 5 ml wholesale and $39.14 retail. The suggested use is 1-2 drops, up to three times per day, not 10 drops multiple times per day equaling possibly an entire 5 ml bottle a day.

Secondly, it needs to be understood that there are a whole range of dietary supplements out there, and different people take them for different reasons. However, no one takes the maximum dose of every single dietary supplement they might decide to try, every single day for the rest of their life.  Much less some highly inflated dose that is drastically different from what the label recommends. Especially when the cost of this ridiculously inflated dose could be $30 or more per day. No one is doing that, and even if they wanted to, it would be cost prohibitive. Besides the very obvious fact that 100 drops a day would be a toxic dose for almost any oil, especially if continued for multiple days indefinitely.

Now lets examine the logic that ingesting frankincense oil is equivalent to ingesting turpentine because both happen to be high in terpene molecules. Following a similar logic we could argue that house cats are potentially as dangerous as lions and cougars because they are all members of the family Felidae and share many characteristics. They are all carnivores with fur, four paws and a tail, and they all have sharp teeth and claws. They all growl when they are mad. Neither is it just size that makes one potentially more dangerous, as there are many species of wild cats similar in size and appearance to house cats which are quite vicious.

Ok, so how about the argument that you should not ingest solvents? That sounds like a bad idea, right? However, a solvent is merely the liquid in which a solute is dissolved to form a solution. WATER is a solvent and we all drink that and need to.

Now lets consider a seemingly harmless substance regularly consumed by most Americans. Did you know that according to the USDA, the average American consumes 150-170 POUNDS of sugar per year? Just imagine if you took 30 or more 5 lb bags of sugar and stack them in the corner of your kitchen on New Year’s Day and declare to yourself that you are going to eat all of that by the end of the year. Sugar causes many more health issues than essential oils and these issues are well documented.

In many social media groups and blog posts you hear horror stories of people having holes burned in their esophagus, kidney and liver destroyed etc etc. Often people “know” this so and it is “proven” that essential oils caused these issues because they heard it from their best friend whose aunt’s doctor had a patient who suffered these consequences of essential oil ingestion. In some cases people say it is their own first hand story of what happened to them and they know it was the oils and their doctor agreed it was the oils that caused their issues.

However, it is nearly impossible to find documentation of medical reports or published peer-reviewed studies to confirm these reports, while at the same time, such information abounds for many prescription drugs, foods, and other products. Key information such as age and previous health history such as being a cancer survivor (no one is cured from cancer, they are only said to be in remission if the cancer goes away); family history of kidney or liver disease, medication history, or a host of other issues are often not taken into consideration when someone posts a claim stating they know their issue was caused by essential oils. Also missing is key information on which oil or oils were used, brand, quality, dosage, duration, and other factors which might be pertinent. Instead you see statements like “”lemon oil will dissolve a styrofoam cup! Imagine what it would do to your insides!”” (Never mind that our intestines are not made of styrofoam).

According to analysis conducted by Transparency Market Research, the global essential oil market is expected to reach $24.79 billion by 2022. According to Grandview Research, the essential oil market in the US is expected to reach $7.34 billion by 2024 while the US population is projected to reach 334.5 million by 2020. Although current and projected essential oil use includes a wide range of quality and purity, it is not difficult to see that use is certainly widespread enough that if essential oils really were causing a fraction of the health issues claimed in these Facebook groups and blog posts, real proof and documentation that these adverse events were occurring would not be so difficult to find.

A lot of very misleading information is posted on these threads, particularly when understanding what it means to say essential oils are concentrated, and unfortunately, people are drawn in by it. One blog proclaims that a single drop of lemon essential oil is the equivalent of eating 20 lemons! This is incorrect. Dr. Jean Valnet, a medical doctor who practiced aromatherapy for more than 30 years and who was considered one of the leading authorities in the world on essential oils and their therapeutic use, stated that about 3000 lemons were required to distil one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of essential oil. This works out to about 50 lemons per 15 ml bottle, or per 300 drops; 5 lemons per 30 drops, or 1 lemon per 6 drops. In other words consuming a drop of lemon oil is nothing like eating 20 whole lemons, it is like adding one small slice of lemon to your water or tea, a fairly common practice.

And while some may argue that essential oils added to foods are trace amounts measured in parts per million, the truth is most are proprietary formulas and don’t really state how much is in them. Many essential oils have been ingested in foods and home remedies for hundreds of years, well before the term “aromatherapy” was coined. That is not to say that one should ingest essential oils without investing in the training and/or research to learn about the oils you are using and why you might ingest them. What is right for one person may not be right for another.  However, exaggerated safety claims promote drama, not education.


The Research of Dr Jean Valnet – Essential Oils During the Past Century, Part IV

Meanwhile, as the U.S. Government was quietly growing and distilling essential oils to research their medicinal benefits, and the FDA was taking steps to ensure that only patentable, synthetic drugs approved by them could ever be used to treat any illness, Gattefossé’s work was not entirely forgotten in France.

Jean Valnet was born July 26, 1920 in what is now the city of Châlons-en-Champagne, France (formerly known as Châlons-sur-Marne, the name was changed in 1998).  As a boy he had opportunity to observe the healing power of plants on many occasions, used by adults who seemed to be aware of the medicinal properties of many of the local plants surrounding them, and who seemed to accept them in a matter of fact way without really understanding how they worked.  Jean Valnet wanted to know more, and tucked this observations away in his enquiring young mind for future reference.

 

He served in combat during World War II (1940-45) and began to study medicine at the Military Academy of the Arrow, at the School of the Military Department of Health, and the Medical College of Lyon. From 1944-1945 he was Assistant Chief of Surgical Services for Evacuation Hospital 412, and he earned his Doctor of Medicine degree in 1945, as well as Diplomas in Forensic Medicine, Psychiatry, Microbiology, Hygiene, and Colonial Medicine.  As a soldier, he earned many honors.  He was an OfficerCroix de Guerre 1939-1945 of the Legion of Honor and held the Croix de Guerre  during the years 1939-1945.  He earned six Cross TOE (Theatre of External Operations) citations and the honors he held included ” Cross of the Fighter,” “Cross Volunteer Fighter ,” “Cross of Resistance Fighter Volunteer ” and ” Medal of the Free French .”

Following his graduation in 1945, he was appointed Lieutenant and served as Assistant Surgeon for Evacuation hospitals 412 and 501 in Germany.  He also served as doctor for the School of Application of the Infantry, and the prestigious Special Military School of St. Cyr, which is the foremost military academy in France.

This academy had originally been founded in 1802 by Napoléon Bonaparte at Fontainebleu near Paris, using the historic buildings of the Maison Royale de Saint-Louis   The Maison Royale de Saint-Louis was originally founded in 1685 by Louis XIV for impoverished daughters of noblemen who had died for France. Several other moves of the school followed, and in 1808, the cadets eventually settled west of Paris in Saint-Cyr.

 

In 1948 he was promoted to the rank of Captain, and served as Surgeon of the Advanced Surgical Unit at Tonkin, the leading surgical unit in this location, from 1950 – 1953.  In 1954, Valnet earned a Bronze medal for his scientific work.  He found consistent results and great success in using many essential oils and aromatic solutions in dressing the wounds during this time.   Later, he served as chief physician to the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the French armed forces, including the Chief of the Secretary of State for War, Staff of the Army, and Office of the Secretary of the Army.  Dr. Valnet also earned the academic decoration of being appointed Commanding Officer  of the ” National Order of Academic Palms ” at the age of 36 for his exceptional scientific research and services to Higher Education.  He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 1958 and served as commanding doctor and physician for Emergency Services. Other awards included the Golden Civic Star and  Silver Medal of Physical Education.  Valnet was also Officer of the Franco-British Alliance, Commander of the League for Protection of Children, and Commander for the National Order of the Ivory Coast as well as a member of numerous medical and cultural organizations.

Dr. Valnet retired from the military in 1959 and continued his medical practice at his Paris surgery in the Avenue Kléber, continuing to advise his patients that a healthy diet and phyto-aromatherapy were important in maintaining wellness.  He chaired the first Symposium of Medical Aromatherapy in Paris in 1960, and his first reference work, titled “Aromatherapy : the treatment of ailments by Plant Essences” was published in 1964.  This was followed by a second book, “The treatment of ailments with vegetables, fruits and cereals” in 1967.  He wrote “Doctor Nature” in 1971, and “Phytotherapy : the treatment of ailments by Plants” in 1972.  These works were based on Dr. Valnet’s clinical observations, and spurred him to continued research in studying the anti-infectious properties of essential oils.  In collaboration with Dr. M. Girault of Dijon, he coined the term “aromatogramme” to describe a method using essential oils to test antimicrobial
susceptibility.  Valnet also foresaw the dangers of overusing antibiotics.

Dr. Valnet founded the first association for the research and study of phyto‐aromatherapy in 1971, and from 1976 until his death in 1995, he organized a a major annual international phyto‐aromatherapy conference which was widely attended by medical doctors, research scientists, and academics. In 1981, Dr. Valnet also founded the college of phytoaromatherapy and field‐based medicine in the French language. As a result of Dr. Valnet’s extensive research, he is generally considered by many as the  “father of modern‐day phyto‐aromatherapy”.

The forward thinking ideas of Dr. Valnet were well ahead of his time.  In his book, the Practice of Aromatherapy, published in 1980 as a culmination of his research and clinical observations, he wrote, “Normal preventive medicine, which consists in giving healthy people drugs and injections of products whose future effects are unpredictable, is an aberration.  Bringing about change by non-toxic means is the only efficacious course, among which aromatic plants and their essences have been, are, and will remain in the front rank.”  Dr. Valnet was the first to record the specific properties, indications, and dosages of essential oils useful in medical practice.  His work is credited for being the foundation of two great trends, which are the clinical and scientific approach which is regularly used by doctors in France, and more general popular trend of aromatherapy geared towards wellness and a healthy lifestyle.

Dr. Valnet formulated his own line of 44 specifically recommended essential oils, and in 1985 selected Cosbionat Laboratory to produce his famous preparations. Cosbionat is located in the beautiful Loire Valley of France, on the fringes of the Vendômoise forest.  The laboratory was originally founded in 1981 by Marie-Thé Tiphaigne and her late husband Jackie Tiphaigne, who had followed Dr. Valnet’s teachings for 13 years.Dr. Valnet continued to review and update his rearch until his death in 1995, after which the Tiphaigne’s continued to market his exclusive line of essential oils. Following the passing of her husband, Marie-Thé Tiphaigne still continues the work begun by Dr. Valnet.  The oils are carefully sourced from long-time organic growers across five continents and steam distilled at low pressure. Citrus oils are cold pressed.  Each batch is then tested against certified benchmarks for gas chromatagraphy, density, optical rotation, refractive index, and sensory testing of color, smell, and taste.  Additional tests are conducted for environmental contaminants such as pesticides and heavy metals.

 

 

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.
 
© 2016, Brenda L. Tippin.  Please do not copy without permission

					
		
	


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.

 


2 Comments

The Fearmongers – Essential Oils Safety Part 2

Essential oil safety seems to be a huge topic with widely varying answers, and with a rapidly growing interest among those who seriously wish to use them for therapeutic purposes, it is a valid question.  However, it does not need to be nearly so confusing, and certainly does not need to deter people from enjoying the benefits of high quality therapeutic grade oils. It is important to understand the different schools of thought in the application of essential oils.  The German model relies primarily on inhalation as a way to receive the benefits of essential oils.  The British model takes a very conservative approach of using very diluted oils for massage.  They have a long list of oils which they believe should NEVER be used for any reason, and generally frown upon applying the oils neat (undiluted) or taken orally unless under the direction of a licensed healthcare professional. The French model, however, embraces application of essential oils through both neat (undiluted) and diluted topical application, internal use through ingestion and suppositories, and inhaling or diffusing the oils.

Most Aromatherapists in the U.S. are trained according to the British model, and the prominent National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) relies heavily on this school of thought.  Generally, they do not recognize therapeutic grade oils but tend to adopt safety precautions that do not distinguish between the many classes and grades of oils available, and make the assumption that the general public is likely to come to great harm using essential oils if they do not adhere to this very conservative philosophy.    Much of the fear-mongering results when these ideas are posted widely on various blogs and forums as broad generalizations and promoted as being widely accepted by leading authorities.  The inherent implication is that any other school of thought is automatically wrong regardless of reasoning.  Unfortunately this very narrow approach has little basis in fact and is very confusing for those who are simply and honestly trying to learn what essential oils may have to offer. One often repeated theme is advising people to purchase only from small dealers and not from MLMs or large corporations due to integrity or quality concerns.

Here is what Dr. Daniel Pénoël, M.D. one of the foremost authorities on the therapeutic use of essential oils has to say about Young Living, the world’s leading essential oils company which also happens to be MLM:

“Many companies have jumped onto the “aromatic bandwagon” solely for commercial reasons.  They simply do not know the meaning of “genuine” when it is implied to essential oils.  They market products that are made solely for what I call “recreational fragrancing….” 
     Gary Young, the founder and president of Young Living Essential Oils, understands the huge difference ….  His goal has been to create a means for producing therapeutic-grade essential oils-oils of the very highest quality-on a very large-scale.  While in most cases emphasis on quantity means decreasing quality, this is NOT the case with Young Living!
     To be able to certify completely the high-grade of his oils, Gary Young has also taken the ultimate step: He has developed his own farms and his own distillations techniques to guarantee the therapeutic quality he seeks.  He has become a true pioneer in developing these operations in the United States.  I wish everyone could see firsthand the Young Living aromatic farms.  From the nurseries, the fields, the distilleries, the lab, and the production department, it is an incredible and unforgettable experience!  Everything Rose-Marie and I wanted to see was shown to us, without concealing anything or any place.  For example, we saw the Bulgarian Rose essential oil with its special wax seal, the hallmark of a genuine essential oil superb quality.
     As always, I brought my own therapeutic-grade essential oils for the seminar, but I had no problem using the Young Living oils as well.  I found them to be top quality, definitely deserving the term, “therapeutic grade.”  Young Living was the first company to import the new Australian essential oil called “Rosalina” (Melaleuca ericifolia) to North America.  It was imported from one of the highest-grade, organic producers in Australia and sold out in just two days-a testament to its superior quality.”  Dr. Daniel Pénoël, M.D

Another common theme in fearmongering is that all representatives of MLM essential oil companies recklessly recommend, advocate and prescribe unsafe practices and uses of essential oils for the sole purpose of trying to sell the oils or sign up distributors.  It is interesting that many of these generalizations often come from small private aromatherapy practitioners who stand to gain customers of their own products and services by frightening them away from the MLM companies.  Sadly, these kind of practices are harmful for all essential oil companies, and for everyone who wishes to enjoy essential oils.

In fact, Gary Young of Young Living was the first health company leader willing to actively work with the FDA to achieve full compliance.  Young Living was audited by the FDA in January of 2015 and was the only health company in 7 years to receive a grade of 100% compliance for the company website and materials.  Young Living is actively working to make its members aware of what they can and cannot say while sharing their products to remain in compliance with FDA rules.

The truth is that a wide range exists in both MLM and large and small companies of experts truly knowledgeable in the many uses of essential oils.  Whether the company is large or small, MLM or not, really is not the defining factor.  It is also not accurate to portray that independent distributors who practice applying certain oils undiluted or ingesting them orally are doing so out of blatant ignorance and/or greedy motive, or that all or even the majority of respected authorities frown on such practices.  Such a philosophy completely ignores the French model of teaching about essential oils, which has been in existence much longer than the British model has, and is sustained by a large body of current and ongoing scientific research which has worldwide respect.

Aromatherapists aligned with NAHA and the International Federation of Aromatherapists (IFA) continue to warn loudly about undiluted application or oral ingestion and imply that anyone advocating or daring to do this without the explicit guidance of a licensed healthcare professional is engaging in something highly dangerous. While it is true that essential oils can be very potent and powerful when properly grown and distilled for therapeutic purposes, they are not drugs.  If an essential oil is on the FDA GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe) List, this means they have a very long history of safe use when used as intended, going back more than 50 years.

 

Influential author and educator Robert Tisserand is often widely regarded as the father of modern aromatherapy, and to him we are certainly indebted for the English translations of Gattefossé’s Aromatherapy, the first aromatherapy book written by Dr. René-Maurice Gattefossé  in 1937, as well as Dr. Jean Valnet’s 1964 book, The Practice of Aromatherapy, which Tisserand also translated.  A native of Great Britain, Tisserand began practicing spiritual healing on his friends at the age of 17, and was fascinated the next year when his mother returned from Paris with an autographed copy of Valnet’s book.  He began selling essential oils out of his bedroom apartment four years later, and founded his essential oils company in 1974.  He still serves as a consultant for this company, now known as Tisserand Aromatherapy. His 1977 book, The Art of Aromatherapy, became an international best seller.  Later he become increasingly concerned with essential oils safety and his most recent updated version of Essential Oil Safety:  A Guide For Health Care Professionals is widely considered the go to book for answers.  Although Tisserand himself is neither a physician nor a chemist, and in fact does not claim any degree on his website, his intensive research and years of personal experience with the use of essential oils have gained him a worldwide reputation.  He has won many awards and presented at numerous conferences.  Tisserand, who came to the U.S. in 2000,  generally represents the more conservative British view, however even he notes in the first edition of his Essential Oil Safety, “We are aware that a book such as this could have the effect of presenting essential oils as generally dangerous substances – this is certainly not our intention. On the contrary, there are several instances where we have shown that supposed dangers do not in fact exist.  The majority of essential oils turn out to be non-hazardous as they are used in aromatherapy.”   Many aromatherapists have placed undue emphasis on Tisserand’s safety statistics without fully understand the context.  He notes, for example, that the text is largely drawn from the toxicology reports from the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials.  In other words, the safety issues apply primarily to oils of fragrance grade.  The testing was also mainly done using the LD50 levels for laboratory mice or rats.  This means that the test rodents are given increasingly large doses until half of the ones tested die – that dose is considered to be LD50.  These doses, incidentally, are generally much larger even than a human would use (consider a human weighing maybe 150x as much as a large laboratory rat) let alone a dose that might be appropriate for something as small as a rat or a mouse.  Tisserand states, “Toxicologists increasingly acknowledge that giving excessive doses of a substance to a genetically in-bred mouse living in a laboratory may not have great relevance to the human situation.”

Yet, numerous postings from the aromatherapy community continually refer to cases of poisoning and fatality from self-dosing of essential oil, yet none of them ever cite the source  where the records of all these so-called poisonings and fatalities from essential oils may be found.    If one searches for these, it is very difficult to find anything.  One however is a study published in the Feb 2001 Paediatrics & Child Health Journal .  This simply reviewed charts of calls to the Ontario Regional Poison Information Center, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto between Dec 1995 – March 1997.   Reading through the article, it is evident that virtually all of these cases referred to very young children accidentally ingesting various cold remedy products such as cough syrup or vapor-rub, composed of synthetic or lab-created ingredients or isolated chemical components of essential oils.  It really does not refer to even fragrance grade aromatherapy oils, much less pure unadulterated natural oils of therapeutic quality.  Most of these involved “camphorated” products or cold remedies  with menthol and eucalyptus – note that all of these are synthetic, laboratory engineered products which, even if they contain any real essential oil it is combined with many other synthetic chemicals.  Even so, of 244 calls made by parents and caregivers, only 29 callers reported the child actually showing any symptoms while at home, nevertheless a total of 76 children were referred to an acute care facility. None of these 76 children died and all cases resolved spontaneously.  Only two children briefly experienced seizures, one a 14 month old boy from ingesting an unknown quantity of 20% camphorated oil and a 19 month old girl from ingesting 50 ml  of Vick’s VaporRub (an amount comparable to more than 3 large 15 ml bottles of essential oil), but these also fully recovered without any lasting effects.

Tisserand notes that virtually all cases of serious poisoning from essential oils result from ingesting undiluted oils in quantity much higher than therapeutic doses.   Of the few cases he is able to cite, most refer to over the counter preparations such as cold remedy products, yet the essential oil is invariably blamed as the culprit even though it is invariably synthetic or lab created and combined with many other synthetic chemicals.  For example, Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) which contains 98% Methyl salicylate and thus is often pointed to as one of the most toxic of oils, began to be widely adulterated and created synthetically more than a hundred years ago.

Dr David Stewart, PhD, author of more than 200 publications including the excellent book, The Chemistry of Essential Oils Made Simple,  is also a Registered Aromatherapist (RA) with the nationally recognized Aromatherapy Registration Council (ARC), which is endorsed by the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapists (NAHA), of which he is a member.  He has also served on advisory committees to the American Public Health Association (APHA) and the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM). He has testified as an expert on health matters before state legislative committees, U.S. congressional committees, medical licensing boards and courts of law throughout the U.S. as well as in Canada.  Dr. Stewart earned his PhD in Geophysics, which employs techniques  and knowledge  of chemistry, mathematics, and  physics in studying nature of the earth and its environment and understanding the complexity of dynamic behaviors.  He has won many awards and presented lectures around the world and has appeared on television in 44 countries.  Dr. Stewart provides an excellent understanding of the chemical differences between natural and synthetically created oils, as well as explaining the important relationship of numerous minor trace components in the whole pure oil which laboratory chemists cannot duplicate.  While it is true that all synthetic or laboratory manipulated forms of Wintergreen oil or Methyl Salicylate are highly toxic, the whole pure oil properly distilled for therapeutic effect, and used correctly is not.  Also, as Dr. Stewart explains, the true pure oils are easily metabolized by the body and do not cause harmful cumulative effects in the way synthetic substances do.

That said, it is important to understand that blanket generalizations are almost always misleading.   The British model generally states that ALL oils should ALWAYS be diluted and NO oils should EVER  be ingested or applied neat.  This belief is so firmly adhered to among those who follow this model that it is widely reported that MLM companies advocate blanket advice to ingest or apply neat any oil you want whenever you please  just because they may have encountered a representative of an MLM has provided information on a particular instance where a particular oil might be used neat or ingested.  This simply is not a fair nor accurate statement.  

The Essential Oils Desk Reference  (EODR) published by Life Science Publishing for instance is a massive work detailing specific information on the therapeutic oils offered by Young Living.  This includes safety precautions, recommendations for dilution, and the FDA GRAS list and guidelines for when and how certain oils might be used as a dietary supplement. It is an excellent and valuable resource for anyone genuinely interested in learning about essential oils,  however, followers of the British model will generally not even consider it, believing oral ingestion or neat applications should not be advocated under any circumstance. NAHA members and followers also state that Raindrop Therapy, developed by Gary Young in the 1980s and which calls for the neat application of specific oils dropped on the spine  undiluted in keeping with the French model, is highly dangerous.  The Raindrop practice does call for neat use of certain oils for which dilution is normally recommended in other applications, but it is necessary to view this in the context of its particular usage rather than automatically dismissing it as “wrong” or “dangerous” because it deviates from the British model. 

In order to perform the Raindrop Technique on others, one must become a Certified Raindrop Technique Specialist which involves a minimum of 72 hours of intensive training including formal classes.  Board Certified Raindrop Specialists must undergo 164 hours of training.  Additionally, for those not already having some type of certification as a healthcare professional which would license them to legally practice massage, additional training and licensing to become a Licensed Spiritual Healer is required.  Those who practice Raindrop must agree to use only Young Living essential oils for this purpose to ensure that oils adulterated with potentially harmful chemicals are not used.  Young Living does more quality testing of their essential oils than any other company, conducted at both their own laboratories and confirmed by third-party labs, and they maintain a strict “Seed to Seal” quality commitment, monitoring the entire planting, growth, harvest, distillation, and bottling phases regardless whether the oils are grown at their own farms or by some of their worldwide partners.  

It interesting that so much passion is stirred up by this topic among aromatherapists of the British model who insist such practices are completely unsafe,  when toxicity of many commonly used cosmetics and skincare products is far more widespread.  An article in The Huffington Post for example, reports over 10,000 toxic ingredients typically found in favorite beauty products, many of which are described in this Guide to Less Toxic Products.  In a new study, Environmental Defense found several favorite makeup brands contain toxic heavy metals such as mercury, arsenic and lead which are not listed on the labeling.

It is also interesting that if consumer safety is the true and genuine concern, that such effort is being made to frighten and discourage people away from exploring therapeutic uses of essential oils.   In the paper Death by Medicine by Gary Null, PhD; Carolyn Dean MD, ND; Martin Feldman, MD; Debora Rasio, MD; and Dorothy Smith, PhD, shows the number of in hospital patients having adverse reactions to prescribed drugs is 2.2 million per year, and further, the total number of deaths caused by conventional medicine is 783,936 per year – which makes the American medical system the leading cause of death and injury in the U.S. 

Essential oils can be used very safely with a little care and common sense.   Since different people have different levels of sensitivity, caution is always advised to learn how your body may respond to different oils.  It is important to seek relevant safety and usage information specific to a particular oil and the company you are purchasing it.  Even if an oil is pure, there may be different species and sometimes different chemotypes of the same species resulting in major differences of the chemical constituents.  Adulterated, Extended, Synthetically derived,  or “nature-identical” oils do NOT behave the same or have the same safety considerations as a genuine pure oil properly grown and distilled for maximum therapeutic benefit.  And, just because an online store provides a link to download the GC/MS or other quality test for a particular oil is not necessarily any assurance that it is an actual test of the particular oil you are buying.  Most quality oils are distilled in small batches and tests can differ widely according to batch, source, growing conditions, distillation parameters and a variety of other factors so these would have to be updated far more frequently than would be practical to be an authentic representation of the results for a particular oil you receive in most cases.  For those who have a health condition, and/or questions about safely using an oil for a particular circumstance, consulting one’s healthcare professional is certainly recommended.  Essential oils are not drugs although they are very powerful and can have many beneficial therapeutic applications when carefully produced for this purpose.

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 you like this report and would like to make a small donation to help defray the costs of time and research, you may click the donate button here:

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


Essential Oils and the FDA

Essential oils are volatile, fragrant substances, derived from roots, bark,  stems, leaves, flowers, buds, seeds and other aerial plant parts.  Food, according to Webster’s dictionary, is defined as “material consisting essentially of protein, carbohydrate, and fat used in the body of an organism to sustain growth, repair, and vital processes and to furnish energy.”    A drug, according to Webster is, ” a substance used as a medication or in the preparation of medication.”  The Food and Drug administration (FDA) goes by the definition of the  Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act,  which is  (1) :  a substance recognized in an official pharmacopoeia or formulary (2) :  a substance intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease (3) :  a substance other than food intended to affect the structure or function of the body (4) :  a substance intended for use as a component of a medicine but not a device or a component, part, or accessory of a device.  The FDA proclaims its responsibility is to protect the public health by regulating the safety of foods, drugs, cosmetics, biological products and medical devices.  This is admirable, but a huge task.  The lines get blurred because the FDA decides things are drugs not by whether they are drugs but how they are marketed and what the “intended use” is.

For example, the FDA says in regard to essential oils, which are generally considered as cosmetics, “This principle also holds true for “essential oils.” For example, a fragrance marketed for promoting attractiveness is a cosmetic. But a fragrance marketed with certain claims, such as assertions that the scent will help the consumer sleep or quit smoking, meets the definition of a drug because of its intended use. Similarly, a massage oil that is simply intended to lubricate the skin and impart fragrance is a cosmetic, but if the product is intended to treat diseases or conditions, such as relieving arthritis  pain, it’s considered a drug.”

The problem with all of this is that in order to protect the consumer , the FDA must make methodical, makes arbitrary decisions, the effect of which may also limit peoples’ ability to educate and inform themselves, and severely limit their access to natural health options in favor of promoting synthetic patented pharmaceuticals which are big business.

According to Jeffrey Dach, MD, there is plenty of scientific research supporting the health benefits of eating cherries, but the FDA considers cherries to be unapproved drugs, and accordingly sent threatening letters to a number of fruit companies warning them not to mention any health benefits of cherries or they would pursue legal action.  In 2010, Diamond Foods received an FDA Warning letter concluding that walnuts are drugs because of links to scientific studies and proven research Diamond had listed on their web page about some of the benefits of walnuts.  This letter states, “Based on claims made on your firm’s website, we have determined that your walnut products are promoted for conditions that cause them to be drugs because these products are intended for use in the prevention, mitigation, and treatment of disease.”     At the same time the FDA advocates a Heart Healthy Diet and links to the American Heart Association’s recommendations for Healthy Diet Goals which includes four servings of nuts per week.  There appears to be no documented evidence that a single person has ever died because they ate walnuts or cherries believing them to be good for their health.  However, a study in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Vol 284, No 4, July 26th 2000, authored by Dr Barbara Starfield, MD, MPH, of the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health reported 106,000 deaths per year.  This was  actually a reprint, as the study was first published in 1996.  In case one thinks this is old information, the FDA’s own records of reported Adverse Drug Events (ADEs) admits to 98,518 deaths and 573,111 serious outcomes  (Serious outcomes include death, hospitalization, life-threatening, disability, congenital anomaly and/or other serious outcome) for 2011.

According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, 25% of Americans are now taking Statin Drugs to lower their cholesterol despite over 900 studies proving the adverse effects of statin drugs.    Many statins such as Zocor and Lipitor cannot be taken at all with grapefruit juice – not even three days later – because the reaction, which inhibits a substance in your small intestine that helps break down medications, could cause too much of the drug’s active ingredient to enter your bloodstream with potentially lethal effects.  Yet even though the drugs may be labeled with some warnings, many are not aware of the seriousness or the reason for them.  In fact, a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal mentions that grapefruit-drug interactions have been on the increase, as many as 6 new drugs per year and over 85 total drugs may cause interactions. A study on the popular drug Avandia, prescribed for Type II diabetes, showed a 30 to 40% increased risk of heart attack.  Yet the FDA allows this and other drugs with similar well documented harmful effects to be continue to be marketed while instead endeavoring to suppress knowledge of potential health benefits of natural substances such as essential oils, or foods such as walnuts or cherries with claims they are drugs.

Many essential oils are on the FDA Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) list, or as FDA approved food additives and flavoring agents.  According to the FDA, this means “a substance is generally recognized, among qualified experts, as having been adequately shown to be safe under the conditions of its intended use, or unless the use of the substance is otherwise excluded from the definition of a food additive.”    The Code of Federal Regulations, 21 CFR 170.30 (b) also allows a substance used in food before 1958, through experience based on common use in food to be defined as GRAS.

As Aromatherapy products, essential oils are generally regulated by the FDA as cosmetics unless specific health claims are made which would cause the FDA to view a particular oil as a drug.  The cosmetic title of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act has not been significantly amended in more than 70 years, and consists of only one page as compared to 112 pages regulating foods and drugs.  It is important to note that cosmetic products are not required to list all the ingredients, particularly those considered trade secrets and fragrance.  “Fragrance” in the ingredients list on a label usually indicates some or all ingredients are synthetic.

An essential oil may be labeled as “pure”, “organic”, “wildcrafted, or “therapeutic”.  These terms mean little unless you know the company, know the source, and have a clear understanding of what they mean by these descriptions.  They do not tell you, for instance, whether expert botanists have been hired to correctly identify the correct species and seed selection.  They say nothing of soil conditions, whether the seeds were planted at the optimal time,  were free of disease, had the needed water and weather conditions during growth, and were harvested at the right time of day.  There are many variables, and they are different for each oil.  There is no standardization in the US for essential oils, and neither the FDA or any other official organization in the US which certifies whether an essential oil is pure or has therapeutic properties.  Neither does AFNOR (Association Francaise de Normalization), a standardization system of the French government with a membership of some 3000 companies, or The ISO (International Organization for Standardization), a worldwide federation of standardization bodies from 130 countries of which AFNOR is one member, representing France.  These misconceptions are easily perpetuated when information is copied on the internet from one site to another, even when the original company is not making such claims, or have defined the terms they are using, but copied information is taken out of context.  Young Living, for example, the world’s leading and the world’s longest running producer of high quality therapeutic grade oils, was the originator of the term “therapeutic grade” in describing their own oils which were defined as “Young Living Therapeutic Grade” or “YLTG”.  When they began producing essential oils for this purpose, there were very few essential oils available in America except fragrance grade, most of which were, and still are, extended or adulterated for lower cost production.  Other companies, seeing a high demand for therapeutic grade essential oils have since sought to join the market.

Another myth  that many of these companies are passing on to the customers is to create the impression that any average person can discern the purity of an oil by smelling it. There is absolutely no scientific evidence to support this theory.  There are many tasteless and odorless chemicals that can be, and frequently are, used to extend and adulterate essential oils, and other artificial means of enhancing the fragrance which will not show up on any but the most sophisticated testing equipment.  FDA labeling requirements again do not adequately represent this as the structure of an essential oil is such that even very tiny amounts of trace components, whether real or synthetic, will affect both the purity of an oil and any therapeutic action it may have.

For example, an oil could be labeled “100% pure Frankincense” and it may be all Frankincense but could be adulterated or extended with multiple species, or it could be improperly distilled.

If one is truly interested in therapeutic properties of essential oils,  it is important to know the company, and find one which adheres to the highest standards and state of the art testing.  
To  learn more about different therapeutic grade essential oils and how they may 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 click the donate button to contribute a small amount towards the cost 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.