Friday, June 28, 2013

My Review of DoTerra Essential Oils

I've been getting a lot of questions from people recently on my view of a fairly new company called DoTerra.  So I decided I will post my thoughts and opionons about this company and their oils.

DoTerra Essential Oils

Until about 6 months ago I had never used DoTerra's oils, even though I had been hearing about the company for a few years.   DoTerra started when a few people who used to work at Young Living (another large oil company) branched out because they felt they could produce higher quality oils than were being manufactured at Young Living.  The company started in 2008, and has grown by leaps and bounds since then.  I in  no way claim to know everything about this company, or it's oils, but I will will share with you my thoughts both pro's and con's and you can weigh them all out for yourself.

 The Pro's.

This company is doing a pretty good job of providing educational material.  Both from the books they have put out, to the videos posted online from them and their distributors.  The only reg flags there are  the occasionally strewn in marketing hype, and pushing more internal use, and improperly diluted use, but other than that most of what I find appears to be good and solid.  I wouldn't recommend their educational material for someone just starting out because it would be very difficult to determine what is safe, unsafe, true, or just marketing hype, etc.  But for someone who has a bit of experience with oils, and can sift through a bit of the over use it could be an easy to use recourse.

They also focus a lot on the quality of their oils, including where the plants are grown, what species of the plant is distilled, and how they are distilled.  They also seen to have a fairly good group of tests that are preformed on each batch of oils to insure quality.  Now wether they have indeed "set the new standard" in essential oils is yet to be seen.  But none the less, they do seem to care a lot about quality.

Their oils smell amazing.  In fact, so amazing that it set up some red flags with me.  Numerous reviews online stated something to the effect of "DoTerra oils smell so much better than any other oils I've ever used!  This tells me that their quality is way better than most of the other oils on the market."  As I have discussed in other blogs, smelling good can be a bad thing as it can mean chemical fragrances and additives were mixed in with the oils.  Oils should smell full, complex, earthy, and sometimes almost dirty.  After hearing about them so much I decided I wanted to try out their oils for myself, and when I received my started kit, the lavender and lemon smelled very comparable to other oils I have used, but like the online reviews said, the peppermint smelled MUCH better!  This made me do a bit more digging.  There is usually a logical explanation to everything, and I was wary that the oil more than likely contained some vanilla, or synthetic vanillin.  Having been involved in aromatherapy for years, and smelling countless essential oils as well as fragrance oils, the delicious aroma coming from the peppermint bottle was a red flag, but one I hoped to put to rest with some more research.  I did find out that some distributors re-distill their peppermint oil.  This means that after the first distill, the plant material is discarded but the oil is re-distilled to remove some of the unwanted constituents, and primarily to result in a product which is higher in menthol.  DoTerra does not do this, so that accounted for the lighter aroma, but not for the sweet peppermint candy scent.  Sadly, a recent third party testing revealed that there was in fact a synthetic component ethyl vanillin present.  The amount of the chemical was very low 0.07%, so low in fact that the testing DoTerra does did not detect it, but their testing only tests for constituents above 0.1% so their test results would not have detected this even if they had been looking.  The third party testing, done in France tested for even trace elements.  Although the synthetic compound was only a trace amount, Robbert Tisserand, and world renowned expert on essential oils said that this small amount was more than enough to account for the "better" fragrance of the DoTerra oil.  Ethyl Vanillin is an extremely strong fragrance, and requires very minute amounts for the desired effect.  I do want to interject here that I do not believe that DoTerra is responsible for this pollution of the oil.  Another peppermint tested from Heritage Farm also contained the chemical, and according to the chemist these two oils were chemically identical and positively came from the same distributor, which would indicate a pollution farther up the line.  

I have heard and seen very good reviews about owners and upper management.  Sincerity, and a true desire to offer quality products, and to help others seems to be their motivation.

The Cons:

Pricing.  Because of their MLM business structure, prices are higher than other companies with a more simple business structure.  While MLM companies can provide great business opportunities that allow people to earn some extra income, to do this, they are not able to offer the best value to the consumers.  Also, I'm not sure why their prices are so high on some of their oils (like peppermint) when they are mixing all the distills together thus creating a more "diluted" product, that should bring their costs down, not up.  Other companies are selling a pure first distill which is usually recognized as being higher in medicinal properties,  at lower costs than DoTerra.  And while DoTerra's quality controls and testing procedures they have put in place to insure high quality oils are wonderful, contrary to how they promote themselves, their procedures are not very different from many other companies who are offering their oils and much more affordable prices.

Hyped Up Claims:  I expect companies to want to promote their products as the "best" and the "greatest" but there are a few ways that DoTerra has crossed from the realm of "good marketing" into "false advertisement" in my opinion.  Claims that fall under this category include the following:

"Our oils are the purest, safest, most effective oils available anywhere in the world." 

 Really?  I get saying they are pure, safe and effective, but you cross the line when you claim no one else on earth could have created a  better oil than you.  Especially considering this is from a company that is only 4 years old.  There is no way in four years you can be certain that there is no other oil on earth that is as good as yours.  This would take millions of dollars worth of testing every other product on the market today, which I know they have not done.

"Synthetic oils cause side effects, natural ones don't."

Well this is just not true at all.  There are many essential oils that cause very significant side effects, some good some bad.  In fact some essential oils are quite deadly even in small amounts.  I'd call that quite a significant "side effect" wouldn't you?  Dont' make up false statements just to make people feel good about using your products.

"Every plant we use is harvested at the "perfect moment" to ensure the highest medicinal properties."

While this may be me being too picky, statements like this bother me.  There is no way that thousands of acres of land over the entire globe are all being harvested at ANY "exact moment".  I think oils should speak for themselves rather than needed hyped up terminology to help them along.  And it just makes me suspicious about what other truth they are "padding" to make their products look superior.  Also, they claim an awful lot of knowledge into their suppliers and how every single plant is harvested and processed, and distilled that I find very had to swallow.  How can a company that is only 4 years old have developed all the connections for all of the millions of acres it takes to grow all these plants all over the globe, closely monitor every part of the growing process, and harvesting, and distilling process, and also have developed the worlds best system of testing for all these oils, and developing their own blends all from the ground up.  Maybe that is just the cynic in me, but I find it quite impossible to believe.  I could get behind them offering maybe a half a dozen oils that they claimed to be so superior and attention to every detail was paid.... but this I find a little hard to swallow.

"A pure essential oil should smell "crystal clean"

Again, this is not true.  Most of the "crystal clean" smelling oils are synthetic.  True pure oils should have complex notes and many of them often smell kind of "dirty."

"Only use CPTG" essential oils internally or externally"

CPTG, which is a trademarked term invented by DoTerra (which means certified pure therapeutic grade), that they use to describe the standard they have invented for their oils.  While this is a wonderful way for them to describe their process, and quality, it implies there is some sort of outside governing body that inspects and certifies oils based on some widely accepted standard, which there is not.   Stating that you should not us an oil without the "CPTG" label on it eliminates all oils since the term is trademarked and no other company could use this title even if their standards were exactly the same as DoTerra.  To me a company should just admit they want you to use their ONLY oils instead of trying to seem unbiased and just recommend you use a certain "grade" of oil, when that grade was invented and trademarked by them.   In many of their their video's they show a pie graph with the different types of essential oils on the market, and show CPTG as a tiny percentage supposedly because of the superior purity and quality.  What they don't tell you is only a tiny percentage of the market is CPTG because it is a term they invented and no one else is allowed to use it.  This is deceptive advertising in my opinion.  Also, as I mentioned above, the DoTerra oil and the oil from Heritage Farm both came from the same supplier.  As I have written about in previous articles, all essential oils come from only a handful of suppliers, regardless of what many of the companies would like you to believe.  Claiming that your oils are far superior to every other oil when they actually come from the exact same place as other companies oils is also a bit deceptive in my opinion.  Of course it is a great marketing strategy, and one that works extremely well.  Many, many people buy their oils because they are scared into thinking that all the other oils on the market are polluted, and DoTerra offers the only truly guaranteed pure oils.  But this just isn't the case.  Research, scientists, and lab testing disprove this readily, however, many people just simply don't have access to this information and find themselves sucked into believing the hype.  

The last thing is how many oils they recommend using "neat" or without diluting them in a carrier oil.  The success they are having with these recommendations and the lack of complaints I am finding or hearing about from skin irritations leads me to believe that their oils are "weaker" than other oils on the market.  I often apply peppermint oil to my scalp mixed with shampoo for migraines, and this typically causes a significant cooling effect.  But when applying DoTerra's peppermint, the cooling effect was very minimal, almost imperceptible, as if I had diluted it significantly before adding it to the shampoo.  Again, I know this is subjective, but I use peppermint for my migraines regularly, and I have never experienced a peppermint this weak.  It gave me no relief whatsoever for my migraines any of the times I used it.  I know others may site that it helped their headaches, but I have a gene that causes me to be very drug resistant, and I have to fight very hard to keep my pain controlled as many pain meds don't help.  So I have used many many different medications, and essential oils for my migraine pain, and DoTerra's peppermint has been the weakest oil I have ever used to date, including extremely "cheap" oils that cost over 4 times less than their peppermint which is supposed to be so much higher quality.  Also, aside from whether their oils are weaker, recommending neat usage has no benefit except to the company because it makes you buy more.  Neat usage can lead to many problems such as skin irritation, sensitivities, and in some cases quite severe reactions.  Scientific studies have shown that in in most cases essential oils actually affect the human body the MOST positively when they are diluted to between 1% and 2%.  That means 1-2 drops of essential oil to 98-99 drops of a carrier oil such as olive oil or coconut oil.  Dilution is not simply to prevent irritation, it's actually how your body best processes the oil.  There is simply no reason for applying an oil straight.  In some situations, such as for pain, a stronger dilution is recommended, but still not neat (or undiluted) applications.  Also, diffusing oils for hours on end is not recommended.  After 20 min the body's ability to take in the oils via the lungs is reduced by over 1/2.  This is your body's way of telling you that is long enough, and also, diffusing longer than a 1/2 hour at a time simply just wastes your oils and causes you to have to spend money faster, which is something most of us would like to avoid doing!

I could keep writing both pro's and con's but I think I will leave it at that.

So my conclusion?  I think they are a good new company that most likely has some good oils, (at least from most of what I have found, and personally talking to a chemist that has tested a number of their oils) although some of them seem "weaker" (I hate to use that term, but I don't know how else to put it.) than other companies I have used over the years, and that one batch of oil did test as having a synthetic compound in it.   I think they offer some good educational materials, although some of the promotional hype about their oils needs to be taken with a grain of salt, as well as their suggestions for over use, and applying oils neat.  Because of their business structure they are not able to offer the consumer the best quality for their dollar, and this causes their prices to be higher than many other companies, but they could also be a very good choice for those looking to make a business opportunity out of this company!

And that's this Friday's review!

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  1. The answer to my question might be somewhere else on your blog, but what brand of oils is your favorite or do you recommend the most?

  2. Thanks for this!!! Great points. Can you share the scientific study regarding the 1 and 2%?

  3. Sorry you feel this way. They are the best I have ever used. Would love to see your evidence for an oil smelling good means they are synthetic. Oh, there isn't any because smell is 100% subjective. I could love it you could hate it. So glad that you use oils. They are wonderful! No matter which you use, glad you are committed to natural health. Empowering, isn't it?

  4. Wish you would comment with your favorite brand of oils. That would be really helpful to all your readers!

  5. I wouldn't base a judgement of the peppermint oil on ONE test from an unknown third party and ONE "world renowned expert's" opinion. I'd like to see more proof than that. I toured a peppermint distillery recently, and the smell there and the bottle of peppermint oil that they handed out smells exactly like doTERRA's peppermint oil. It doesn't smell like the peppermint oil my mom had from the herb store. Whatever that is worth to anyone else, it did make ME more confident in the purity of doTERRA. :)

  6. I would also love a link to the study about diluting oils to 1-2%. I'm preparing info for an oils safety class in June & hadn't ran across anything like that yet. Thanks!

  7. I have been approached by countless MLM "deals" and bought into a few. The loyalty to the product and/or organization is amazing. Acai juice was marketed as a cure all by Monavie and when I pointed out to my sister (who works at the world headquarters of Amway) that Acai was available at much cheaper prices, she reacted like I was taking away her first born child!! She told me in no uncertain terms that Monavie was a special secret formula that nobody but nobody could duplicate........she now feels rather stupid if I bring it up.
    People, please use common sense when getting pitched by an MLMer. If the product is that good, why hasn't a Proctor and Gamble type company bought it for Billions and wouldn't a product that incredible be at the least News Worthy? You would have already heard about it! C'mon ....Use the most exotic instrument in the world.......your brain!

  8. Great post! Thank you! I would like to know what brand of oils you like? Also what is the link to your store? Have a wonderful day!

  9. Great Article! I love essential oils and even make my own (the CORRECT way for therapeutic grade oil, used in the French method). I found DoTerra because I was looking for a way to get my hands on more variety of oils, oils that I simply do not have the ability to make due to the sheer amount of plant matter you need to create a tiny amount of the volatile oils (essential oils).
    Do Terra's hype detours me and makes me question the claims of purity of the oils. There really is a shortage of quality oils on the market, though. You only have to have 10% of the plant oil in bottle to sell it legally as "pure essential oil". You are also not required to put the method of extraction/distillation (how you made the oil) on the packaging or really what is in the concoction. That is why some of the oils are so cheap! The method makes so much difference as to quality!
    That is like cutting cocaine. (I have actually never done drugs, but am aware of cutting practices). If there is only 10% cocaine in a batch....people will still buy it as cocaine. If you do drugs you don't want to take baby laxatives. you want the pure shit! But if the pure shit is not on the market, then what do you do? you buy the shit shit.
    Do Terra's claims are attractive in that they are not cutting their oils and they tell you how the oils are made. If those claims are true that I can overlook the other things simply because of the quality. But if they are not....
    and like I said, some of their marketing claims that are obviously not true make me question....

  10. I loved Doterra products and still use some but they should be used with caution when taken internally. One year ago I took DDR Prime at night with apparently not enough food (it does say on the label take with food) and it burned my esophagus while I was sleeping and woke me up that night with severe acid reflux which I'd never had. It has affected my life tremendously. I've spent a great deal of money (thousands) on medications and tests trying help this problem that I know was caused by the oils. We even bought an adjustable bed so that I could sleep upright. I'm miserable every day. So all this to say they should have much bigger warning labels on the oils that they say to take internally. It is not completely safe, there are risks.

    1. Use a teaspoon of bicarb soda a day dissolved in hot water until yor reflux stops.

  11. I have been using doterra for 2 years and absolutely love the oils I avoid the Sales and marketing hype which quite honestly doesn't serve DO-Terra - However they do offer a good oil next to Young Living is a little cheaper

  12. Peppermint oil burns... I put it on my temples and... can't complain that it isn't strong enough.

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