Are Young Living Essential Oils a Scam?

Young Living Essential Oils, developed by D. Gary Young, are the focus of a multi-level marketing program that have brought essential oil products to the mainstream. The company’s latest claim, that its oils can kill the Ebola virus, has had distributor websites shut down by the FDA.

Earlier this week, the FDA sent letters to Young Living and its spin-off/competitor doTerra over misrepresentation by its distributors on the healing and preventative properties of their essential oil products. In the case of Young Living, the FDA listed three of its distributor sites that claimed Young Living essential oils could prevent or cure the deadly Ebola virus.

The website reportedly wrote “[T]he Ebola virus cannot survive in the presence of a therapeutic grade Cinnamon Bark and Oregano essential oil.” 

The website wrote “Thieves [a proprietary Young Living blend] oil can be . . . applied topically on the skin to help the body fight off infection . . . If Ebola was going around in my area . . . I would apply it to my feet and armpits 2x/day or more and take it in capsules at least 2x/day for preventive purposes,” and “If I were exposed to Ebola or had reason to believe I could be sick with it, I would use some of these oils every 10 minutes for a few hours, then cut back to every hour for the rest of the first day. Then I would use them every 2 waking hours of the day for at least a week, or longer if it was known I was sick.”

A doTerra distributor wrote “Many Essential Oils are highly Anti-viral. I list here a few of them those (sic) oils that could help prevent your contracting the Ebola virus . . ..” on a Twitter account credited to “MrsSkinnyMedic.”

Both doTerra and Young Living were cited for recommending essential oils “for conditions that cause them to be drugs under section 201(g)(1)(B) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act) [21 U.S.C. § 321(g)(1)(B)]. The therapeutic claims establish that these products are drugs because they are intended for use in the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease.”

Essential oils are special; they are pure plant and flower essences with a long history of curative properties. And what’s more delightful than the pure aromatic essence of a rose flower to make you feel calm, or the exhilarating fresh scent of eucalyptus leaves when you’ve got a stuffy nose? These are two common essential oils, potent tools of the plant kingdom, relied on and revered for ages by many cultures around the world. But they are not drugs. And while we may experience strong benefits of these oils, the FDA says it is irresponsible and dangerous to suggest that they can be used to defeat a deadly virus like Ebola.

Young Living distributor poster
Young Living distributor poster

But it’s not just Ebola. Distributors for Young Living and doTerra have claimed their oils can cure or prevent “Parkinson’s disease, autism, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, insomnia, heart disease, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), dementia, and multiple sclerosis,” according to the FDA letter, without providing any scientific evidence to back up these claims.

It’s not just the Ebola virus that Young Living distributors routinely rely on to gain customers. Scare tactics sell product, and the company’s legion of sales representatives and their sales pitches have been compared to how Natural News promotes disinformation about health issues and government activity.

According to the Young Living website, “Gary established the standard now known as Young Living Therapeutic Grade™, a philosophy and a guarantee that Young Living will only sell 100% pure, natural, uncut oils that maintain their vital therapeutic potency.” And on this premise, he built the business that brings in more than $100 million in annual revenues. Much of that comes from the membership program and people signing up to become a “distributor” of the product.

But Young Living essential oils aren’t a magic cure-all. They’re not even certified organic. Neither are doTerra’s, yet both companies charge more for their products than organic brands do for offerings of a higher quality (the lack of pesticides and herbicides). On the Young Living website, it states that Gary “developed his first organic herb farming and distillation operation,” which would lead consumers to believe the oils are organic. But, the company also states that “Young Living cannot place the word ‘organic’ on our labels because we occasionally import some oils from different countries and most of these countries do not have organic standards that match the US standards.”

There are a number of respected, quality brands of essential oils; many are available at health food stores, Whole Foods Market, or online. At their simplest, essential oils are synthetic chemical-free alternatives to perfumes or deodorants. And there is some research to back up health claims on specific essential oils. In most cases, what you’re able to find at health food stores are therapeutic grade products, like those made by Simplers Botanicals, Aura Cacia, Now, or Mountain Rose Herbs.

Essential oils can be part of a healthy lifestyle. But even the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) acknowledges the unethical and potentially dangerous behavior of brands like Young Living and doTerra. According to NAHA, “NAHA is aware of several Multi-level marketing companies who disseminate irresponsible and misinformation into the aromatherapy market place.”

For more information

Gary Young somolia

Truth about Gary Young

Is Gary Young an MD?

Gary Young Fraud

Gary Young Arrest


The Real Story on Young Living and Gary Young

For the truth about Young Living essential oils and what their sales reps are saying in an effort to sell essential oils, I went to their own websites and literature. Sadly, too much of what they say is either ridiculous, has no scientific basis, is absolutely dangerous or an outright fabrication.

I don’t blame the sales reps totally because for the most part they are just repeating what they’ve been taught by their upline and the company’s literature. I do hold them responsible for not doing independent research into essential oils and aromatherapy.

The Truth About Young Living: Gary Young

Gary Young is the founder and revered head of Young Living who has an army of high-priced lawyers ready to take on any besmirching of the king’s reputation. However, with some persistent digging I’ve been able to find a few stories that deserve a look:

  • The Real Story of Gary Young and Young Living Essential Oils: “insisted on delivering his first wife’s baby underwater…left the healthy baby under water for an hour…the healthy infant drowned… arrested in California in 1988 for a variety of charges related to the sale of ineffective and worthless medical treatments…

Despite the massive public relations and reputation cleanup that’s been done on D Gary Young, or Gary D Young, or Gary Young, with a lot of digging and persistence one can find the truth about Young Living and its founder. He’s a con artist with no scientific or medical training who inflates his credentials with bogus diplomas and outright lies, with a history of health fraud and more than one death laid at his door.

The Truth About Young Living: Straight From the Horse’s Mouth

What dangerous advice is being disseminated by those followers of Gary Young and Young Living Essential Oils? Rather than have those rabid devotees to YL deny and lie, I’ve decided to go right to the source(s), complete with links.

Of course, there’s always the chance that once exposed those pages will be deleted, but I’ll take that risk. I figure it’s more important to expose the lies than to be concerned about a broken link down the road.

The Truth About Young Living: Safe to Ingest

All over the place, people are being told by Young Living representatives that it is safe to ingest essential oils…well, their essential oils. This is a very dangerous practice and I sure hope Young Living’s liability insurance is up to date, because sooner or later they’re going to need it.

From the website of Young Living independent distributor #73621

    • Using the oils internally offers a way to increase the potency of the oils.”
  • “There are many ways to use essential oils internally.

Suggested internal consumption methods:

    • Put 1-5 drops of oil into an empty capsule with a little olive oil, recap and swallow with water.
    • Add 1-2 drops to an 8 oz. glass of water or rice milk.
    • Put 1-2 drops onto a piece of bread or add to your meals when cooking, or make a dipping oil – 1 drop per 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
    • Add 1-2 drops onto a teaspoon of Young Living Blue Agave and swallow.
    • Drop directly onto the tongue and swallow. Exercise extreme caution when using this method. Many essential oils are very strong and should be tested by pouring a single drop onto a spoon and tasting a small portion to determine the amount of essential oil to be used. “
    • “…add a drop of oil to a glass of water or a teaspoon of honey.”
    • “…capsules full of oil, 2-3 times a day – to eliminate bacteria and infection.”
  • “…put a drop directly under your tongue…Peppermint with freshen your breath”

Other reckless methods of use:

    • “Vaginal Retention Implant… Place 10-20 drops of essential oil into a tablespoon of carrier oil… use a small syringe to implant the mixture into the vagina…”
  • “Enemas and rectal implants are the most efficient ways to deliver essential oils to the urinary tract and reproductive organs… Mix 20-35 drops of essential oil in a teaspoon of carrier oil.”

 “Before taking GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe by the FDA) essential oils internally, always dilute with an oil soluble liquid like honey, olive oil or goat/cow milk.”


“GRAS” is an acronym for the phrase Generally Recognized As Safe. Under sections 201(s) and 409 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act), any substance that is intentionally added to food is a food additive, that is subject to premarket review and approval by FDA, unless the 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. Food and Drug Administration Official Website

GRAS does NOT apply to essential oils

Straight from the Young Living website

    • For dietary, aromatic, or topical use. When using as a supplement, dilute one drop in 4 fl. oz. of liquid such as goat’s or rice milk.
    • Add a drop of peppermint essential oil to herbal tea to help aid normal digestion.
    • Place 2 drops of peppermint essential oil on the tongue…
  • Lavender: When using as a supplement, put one drop in a capsule or in 4 fl. oz. of rice or goat’s milk.

That’s only three website, one the official Young Living website, found on the very first page of search results when I typed in “young living ingest essential oils”.

You want more proof? Search yourself.

The Truth About Young Living: Safe to Apply Neat to the Skin

Again, Young Living goes against the standard practices of certified aromatherapists, the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy, and renowned expert like Robert Tisserand to promote a potentially harmful practice. They recite the mantra that because their oils are so pure they are completely safe to apply topically to the skin without being diluted.

Once again, if you want the truth about Young Living, here are some links you can follow to read for yourself:

  • Peppermint Essential oil – “Massage several drops of peppermint essential oil on the abdomen…” and “Rub one drop of peppermint essential oil on the temples, forehead, over the sinuses…and on the back of the neck to relieve head pressure.”

For the most part I found that on the official website the only oils I found that they say don’t needs to be diluted prior to applying to the skin is Lavender and Peppermint.

But what about their sales reps?

“…tip the oil bottle and place 2–3 drops in the palm of your hand or directly on the desired application area.”

 “Dilution is not required. Suitable for use on all but the most sensitive skin…” then lists 30 essential oils that can be applied neat; interesting that many of those that they recommend be used straight are also some of the priciest, like rose, sandalwood, jasmine, ylang ylang, etc.

    • “…rub another drop of oil (peppermint) under the nose to help improve concentration and alertness.”
  • Apply peppermint essential oil to the back of the neck and shoulders throughout the day to keep energy up.”

 “On the inside of your upper arm, place one drop of oil to see if any redness develops. If so, apply a vegetable oil base to dilute the oil before reapplying.”

Simply take a drop or two of oil and put it directly on your skin. Normally, you want to use the oils directly where the issue is.”

The Truth About Young Living: Safe for Pets

As one whose children have always had fur, this is the most egregious of all the bad information being spread by Young Living. Not only do they recommend using the essential oils undiluted on animals, but they recommend using them on cats!

Cats lack the enzymes necessary to process essential oils. It can even be deadly to diffuse essential oils in an unventilated room or from which a feline cannot escape.

This blatant disregard for the safe use of essential oils is really the one that pisses me off the most! When we have pets we are responsible to never do anything that would harm them.

Truth about Gary Young

Is Gary Young an MD?

Gary Young Fraud

The Truth about Gary Young, Founder/CEO of Young Living

Recently, I started looking into essential oils for my fam. I had just gotten the babe to sleep and had curled up with some peppermint tea when I made the fateful Google search — “Young Living Founder and CEO Gary Young.” I was surprised by the number of negative articles that popped up. At first I dismissed the claims as outlandish and tried to distract myself with an article on frankincense oil. I mean, surely, this ‘esteemed specialist’ can’t only have a high school diploma, right?! But I couldn’t get rid of the pit in my stomach. In fact, I ended up spending the next month digging through court records, government inquiries, and expert testimonies. I was finally forced to admit that Gary Young is not a man to be trusted. Indeed, he has blatantly lied about his education, his certifications, and even his honors in order to increase his credibility and profit. Young Living Essential Oils has clearly tried to bury Gary Young’s past — particularly records of his multiple arrests.[1] It is my hope that sharing these documents will prevent you and your family from being hurt.


Throughout his career, Gary Young has asserted that he is a “lifelong student.”[2] On his personal website, it states that “Between 1982 and 1985, Gary attended Bernadean University and earned a doctorate in naturopathy.” So Gary Young attended university for three years, right? Wrong! Bernadean, is nothing but a mail-order diploma mill that was never approved or accredited to offer any courses or degrees and was eventually exposed as a fraud by the Nevada Supreme Court.[3] Yikes! Even after the “university” was closed, Gary Young continued to publicize his “degree” on the Young Living website and in his self-funded publications.[4]

If you are unfamiliar with the phenomenon of diploma mills in the 1980s check out this startling New York Times piece by Laufey V. Bustany (who holds a Master of Science degree in nutrition from Rutgers University and is a registered dietician). In the article, Bustany asserts, “Diploma mills [were] producing charlatans at an unprecedented rate. Not only do these organizations abuse the public’s trust in professional degrees, but also entice students into “a partnership of fraud.” Gary Young definitely qualifies as one of the “charlatans” of which Bustany warns.

Remarkably, the Bernadean University episode was not the first time Gary Young claimed a false degree. Prior to establishing Young Living Essential Oils, Gary Young ran a “clinic” in Rosarita Beach, Mexico. The clinic’s literature listed him as a graduate of the American Institute of Physioregenerology. But Mike Maher — the Spokane resident who founded and operated the institute — reported that Gary Young had never even come close to graduating. Indeed, Gary Young attended only a few classes, completed only a third of the homework, and owed $1,800 in tuition. Gary Young was forced to admit that he never secured a diploma from the institute and that his brochures simply had a “typographical error.”[5] I’m so sure!

What exactly was Gary Young providing in his Tijuana clinic? He claimed that “a three-week stay in his clinic and $6,000 will bring a patient into remission. A cure can be effected for $10,000. He claims a 90% cure rate for lupus and says that only 63 have died out of the last 1,000 patients he has treated during the last four years.”[6] The clinic also offered iridology, live cell analysis, and “blood crystallization,” which he claimed could detect degenerative diseases five to eight years before they caused symptoms. The L.A. Times ran an undercover, scathing report on Gary Young’s clinic. It is too hilarious to not include here word-for-word:

Some diagnostic methods used by Tijuana clinics that cater mainly to Americans appear as bizarre as the treatments offered.

Upon request, the Rosarita Beach Clinic, run by naturopath Don Gary Young, sends a prospective patient a kit with sharp pins and two glass slides. The patient is directed to puncture the little finger of each hand and make five blood spots on each slide, one for the left hand and one for the right. The slides are then mailed along with $60 to the clinic for diagnosis.

A Times reporter prepared two slides, using blood from a healthy 7-year-old, 20-pound tabby cat named Boomer that belongs to Glendale veterinarian Ahmed Kalek. The slides were presented at the clinic by the reporter who identified himself as a prospective patient.

Sharon Reynolds, “health educator” at the clinic, who also casts horoscopes for patients at $50 each, examined the slides under a microscope that projects an image on a television monitor. She said she found evidence of “aggressive cancer” in the cells as well as liver problems.

The cancer, she said, had been in the reporter’s system for four or five years.

“You must have suspected something,” she said, gazing up with sorrowful eyes.

The reporter said he had not suspected anything and suggested that another “blood crystallization” test be conducted that day. This time his own blood was used and Reynolds found signs of “latent” cancer but no evidence of “aggressive” cancer. She said that liver dysfunction was still evident as well as pancreas and thyroid problems.

She suggested another test be done in the near future and said in her report:

“Elevated level of toxicity must be reduced in order to promote assimilation, increase oxygenation and prevent degeneration. We recommend a supervised program of cleansing, detox and rebuilding.”

The detoxification program at the clinic, which consists of colonics, a special diet and various nostrums, costs $2,000 per week, payable in advance. An at-home program is also available for $90 plus about $400 worth of vitamins and supplements that Young sells through his vitamin company in California.

The Times mailed a third set of slides for the follow-up test suggested by Reynolds. This time blood from a chicken in a Chinatown poultry shop was used.

Red cells in chicken blood are oval-shaped and have no nuclei — distinctly different from the round non-nucleated red cells in the blood of mammals when viewed under a microscope, experts say.

Nevertheless, the Rosarita Beach Clinic diagnosed the chicken blood as if it were from a human.

“There is inflammation in the liver,” the clinic’s report said. “Your blood is indicating the possibility of a pre-lymphomic (sic) condition. It appears as though you’ve recently undergone a high level of upset in your life which has weakened your immune response considerably.”

It closed with the earlier prescription for detoxification, word for word.

Dr. Faramarz Naeim, head of hematopathology at the UCLA Medical Center, was asked by The Times to look at the cat and human blood slides as well as a chicken blood slide similar to the one sent to the clinic.

Naeim, who was told nothing about the blood, immediately asked about one slide:

“Is this human blood? It looks like chicken blood.”

Naeim also said that blood slides used for valid diagnostic purposes must be thinly smeared and stained so that individual cells can be clearly seen under a microscope. Naeim and other blood analysts point out that information from such examinations is limited and is normally used in conjunction with other medical data in reaching a diagnosis.

‘Just Drops of Clotted Blood’

The blood on the slides prepared for the Rosarita Beach Clinic was not smeared or stained and the cells are lumped together.

“They are just drops of clotted blood,” he said.

Of the clinic’s written diagnoses, he said:

“This is just garbage. It just contains words and terminology without making much sense. . . . It’s crazy.”

Sharon Reynolds, Rosarita Beach Clinic health educator, later defended her analysis of the chicken blood in a telephone interview.

“I have never seen chicken blood before, so I wouldn’t know,” she said. “If that had been human blood that would have been an accurate analysis of the blood.

“This is not a test where we see things in any way that a (conventional) blood test sees them,” she continued. “I analyzed it in good faith. . . . As warm-blooded animals apparently we have things in common.”

As for Boomer the cat, Reynolds insisted that, “It was not a healthy cat. That cat probably has leukemia. . . . If the cat is acting healthy, the cat could be a carrier of leukemia.”

Mary Nightingale, assistant to veterinarian Kalek, said Boomer was tested for leukemia after the clinic diagnosis and was found to be neither afflicted with nor carrying the disease.

Sometimes, the “blood crystallization” analysis is used at the clinic to test the blood of a patient’s family members and, if a disease is allegedly found, the family member might also be treated.[7]

More alarmingly, still, Gary Young also treated cancer patients with laetrile. Laetrile has been exposed as a potentially lethal treatment which causes the body to create cyanide in toxic amounts.[8]

Licenses & Certifications

Gary Young has never been licensed to practice naturopathy — but this hasn’t stopped him from claiming otherwise. From 1983–1993, Gary Young was arrested three times for practicing medicine without a license, served 60 days in jail, and even plead guilty on at least one of the counts.

For example, in March 1983, Young was arrested in Spokane for practicing medicine without a license when he offered to provide an undercover agent with prenatal services and to treat her mother for cancer. (He again claimed falsely to be a graduate of The American Institute of Physioregenerology). The prosecuting attorney’s statement of charges in the case said:

UNLAWFUL PRACTICE OF MEDICINE committed as follows: That the defendant, Donald Gary Young, in Spokane County, Washington, on or about February 24, 1983, then and there being, did then and there offer or undertake to diagnose, advise or prescribe for a human physical condition, or offer to penetrate the tissue of another human being, by means as follows: offering to deliver a baby of another person; by offering to treat another person for cancer and to detect the presence of cancer in another by. means of a blood sample which he would draw and by a blood test which he would interpret; and by offering to determine the nutritional needs of another person during pregnancy by drawing blood and interpreting the results of a blood test; the defendant at such time not having a valid unrevoked license to practice medicine.

Young pled guilty to the unlawful practice of medicine and was sentenced to a year of probation. In the plea document he “explained” that he “was engaged in consulting [sic] people in alternative cancer therapy [sic] and offering dietary help in order to give people a program that would work.”

Despite Gary Young’s multiple arrests, in April 2002, he still maintained that he was a licensed N.D. A physician who telephoned Young Living was told that Young was formally approved to practice naturopathy in Utah. The physician knew that the Utah Division of Professional Licensing (USOPL) website lists the numbers of all licensed naturopaths and asked the Young Living employee for Young’s license number. The employee said it could not be given out. After the physician complained to the UDOPL, Young Living removed the title N.D. and references to Young as a naturopath from its website, but this misleading information is still posted on a biography website that can be accessed from Gary Young’s personal blog.[9]

Ironically, Gary Young would have no reason to acquire a license because in Utah it is illegal for a licensed naturopath to “own, directly or indirectly, a retail store, wholesaler, distributor, manufacturer, or facility of any other kind located in this state that is engaged in the sale, dispensing, delivery, distribution, or manufacture of homeopathic remedies, dietary supplements, or natural medicines.”

Gary Young has also claimed that he is the only certified aromacologist in the United States — receiving his formal training from the Royal Masonic Hospital in London. But the Royal Masonic Hospital has refuted that they don’t even know who Gary Young is.


Gary Young’s “honors” are also boldface lies. In 1985, he boasted that he received the Humanitarian Award from the State Medical Examiner’s Office of Baja, California (one of six ever awarded) for his research and successful treatment of degenerative disease. The State Medical Examiner’s Office has flatly denied this claim. Gary Young has also asserted that he studied essential oil chemistry and was invited to give lectures at Anadolu University in Turkey — you guessed it, false.


Perhaps you are still trying to internally defend Gary Young. I know the feeling. You may be telling yourself, “Gary Young may have had a colorful past but he is still an authority on essential oils, right?” Wrong. Several actual experts in the field of essential oils — all on the JEOR (Journal of Essential Oil Research) editorial panel — have formally responded to the transcript of Young’s tape “The Missing Link” which has been posted widely on the Internet. This tape is his manifesto on essential oil’s healing powers. The experts concurred that his ideas are pure junk science. Robert P. Adams of Baylor University wrote, “Pure garbage. Nothing else.” And Rodney Croteau of Washington State University declared, “Mr. Young’s writings are among the most unscientific and intellectually unsound that I have ever read. There is no doubt that Mr. Young is a genuine quack.”

Gary Young somolia

Truth about Gary Young

Is Gary Young an MD?

Gary Young Fraud

Gary Young Arrest