Posted by Christine Pack and Cathy Mathews
[NOTE and UPDATE: As of 9-22-14, Gary Young, president of Young Living Essential Oils, has been warned by the FDA that he must stop his distributors from diagnosing illness and prescribing essential oils as medicine for treating cancer and preventing Ebola contamination, among many other things, without being medically licensed to do so. The FDA letter, which falls under the category of "Inspections, Compliance, Enforcement, and Criminal Investigations" can be read in its entirety here. ]
For those Christians who haven't heard, essential oils are big business. Big, big business. Make no mistake: essential oils are the hottest thing going since yoga invaded the church a decade ago. One of the largest and most well known of these essential oils companies is Young Living. Young Living sells its products through Multi-Level Marketing (MLM), a pyramid form of selling that works through networking. (Other MLM companies that might be familiar to some readers are Amway, Juice Plus, Pampered Chef, Herbalife and Mary Kay.)
If you happen to be one of the few that hasn't yet heard about essential oils, just wait. One day soon your Facebook inbox will blow up with invitations to this or that essential oils home party. If you choose to attend one of these parties, you might learn some useful tips for making nice-smelling homemade cleaning products or cosmetics with essential oils, but you might also be exposed to some very unbiblical concepts about sin, sanctification and illness.
Before I go any further, let me first state clearly that we are not
concerned with the use of essential oils in foods, cosmetics and cleansers, because those uses do not generally have spiritual implications.*
We also view essential oils to be, in and of themselves, spiritually neutral. By that, we mean that we believe Christians can
use them with a clean conscience and a right understanding of man, nature, God, physical vs. spiritual healing, etc. BUT, we do also want to warn that some EO companies and distributors (Young Living, in particular, which was founded by a professing Christian named Gary Young) use, sell, promote, and teach about EOs using New Age/New Thought concepts and spirituality, specifically in the areas of sin, sanctification and illness, and concepts that are clearly counter to what the Bible teaches on these things.
The area of alternative treatments, in general, is a tricky one to navigate, as we don't have any desire to throw out all alternative treatments as being bad or unbiblical. What we do want to do is give clear warnings about the dangers that we do see about how some alternative products are marketed, since many of our readers will probably come into contact with some of this thinking, given that alternative treatments, on the whole, have become mainstreamed not only in the culture at large, but also, within the Christian community (and particularly the Christian homeschooling community).
Having said all that, our primary concerns are as follows:
(1) We are concerned when essential oils (or other alternative treatments) are marketed as having spiritual benefits that should only be ascribed to God;
(2) We desire to warn about Young Living essential oils being marketed with unbiblical concepts;
(3) We desire to give clear warnings that the alternative treatment industry, on the whole, is almost entirely unregulated, and to educate others about what the implications of this are; and
(4) We are concerned when Christians choose to partner with, promote and sell products in tandem with companies that are undergirded with New Age/New Thought beliefs (i.e., being "unequally yoked").
Although our primary
concerns, as noted, are spiritual in nature and not physical, at the same time I suspect that runaway allergies and sensitives among heavy essential oil users will start showing up over the next decade, and this is why: just because the oils are "natural," and come from oranges, lavender, roses, etc. (and not out of a lab) doesn't mean that they are in their natural state as God made them.
Essential oils are highly concentrated. I used lots of essential oils while in the New Age, for almost a decade, and guess what? I am sensitive and/or allergic to most of them now, at least the ones I used on a regular basis. Also, today's EO users use the oils far more than I ever did as a New Ager: diffusers running all day, homemade counter spray, homemade laundry detergent, homemade dishwashing soap, homemade cosmetics, and more, all scented with EOs. Allergies develop through repeated exposure to something. Well, that's a lot of exposure right there.
EOs MARKETED AS HAVING SPIRITUAL BENEFIT THAT BELONGS ONLY TO GOD
Below are some Young Living essential oils product descriptions which reveal the usage of New Age/New Thought concepts and statements for the marketing of the YL Oils:
White Angelica: Promotes feelings of protection and security, and can be used to guard against negative energy.
Balsam Fir: may be used to balance moods, promote a sense of well being and increase spirituality.
Douglas Fir: Used by Native Americans to enhance spirituality.
Juniper: promotes spirituality and encourages self esteem. Traditionally taken internally for purification and cleansing.
Ylang Ylang: traditionally used to balance the mind and emotions, this oil may also help control negative feelings such as frustration and anger.
Abundance: Was used by the ancients to attract prosperity and magnify joy and peace.
Aroma Life: used to energize your life force and promote heart vitality.
Australian Blue: will uplift the spirit and purify the body. This oil is taken from a plant that is revered in aboriginal culture.
Dream Catcher: is designed to harness the power of positive dreams and guard against clouded vision, helping you realize your desires and stay on the path to fulfillment.
(You can view all Young Living essential oil product descriptions by going to this link)
The quotes below come directly from the CEO of Young Living, Gary Young, and have direct bearing on his views and marketing strategies for his essential oils. (HT: Chuck and Julie Cohen) My commentary and notes are in blue following the comments by Young.
Blog entries by Gary Young:
Surrender Negativity and Unconscious Manipulation – 10-18-12
“Disease is nothing more than manipulation, because disease creates control and gives you power over everyone around you. So then surrender, create the energy of giving it up, surrender that attachment; surrender that control.”
MY NOTE: this is not the biblical view of disease, which is that disease is a result of the Fall. Young's view is more in keeping with Taoism.
The Transforming Power of Frankincense – 4-26-12
“As you are diffusing Transformation, it will stimulate the receptors in the limbic system and will open up the pineal gland. You will start to have feelings and thoughts, and maybe you will even see in a dream state ideas or visions of what can happen in your life.”
MY NOTE: We're not taught anywhere in scripture to attempt to manipulate energy centers ["energy centers" AKA "chakras".....an occult Hindu concept] in the body [whether that's through yoga, meditation, acupuncture, application of essential oils, etc., etc.] in order to have dreams or visions about the future for our lives. In fact, this goes directly against what God says in Deut 29:29 "The hidden things belong to the Lord." All that God wants us to know, He reveals plainly to us.......chasing after hidden knowledge is akin to witchcraft, and God detests it.
Five Secrets to Having More Energy and Vitality, Part III - 12-12-11
“As we continue through the Five Secrets for More Energy series, we come to the third chakra, otherwise known as the fire chakra. This energy center is located at the solar plexus and corresponds to our passion for life and our will, drive, and ability to express anger. When our fire chakra energy is low, blocked, or depleted, we may experience depression or boredom and lose touch with our purpose and passion.
In our culture, expressing anger is a touchy subject. Performing polarity yoga combined with Young Living essential oils may help you unleash anger and help you reconnect to your passion. Remember: According to energy medicine principles, if your energy is not moving, it gets stuck and stagnant—which leads to imbalances and possible illness. The secret to having more energy is to keep the energy you do have moving!”
MY NOTE: So many problems here.......First of all, these are blatant teachings of the Hindu/occult concept of the chakra system. Also, this is not the biblical model for how someone is to deal with anger/sin. Anger doesn't just get fixed by someone's "energy" being manipulated or "balanced." For the Christian, besetting sins should be acknowledged, repented of, and prayed over, while making conscious efforts to put off the deeds of the flesh and put on the deeds of the Spirit. And finally, his teaching that having imbalances of energy can lead to illness is a Taoist concept, not a Christian one. Christians don't see all of creation living in a perfect and whole harmony, with occasional energy imbalances that need to be righted through various means (yoga, acupuncture, reiki, meditation, oils, etc., etc.). That is the Taoist view. The Christian view on the other hand, is that when Adam and Eve fell, ALL of the earth was cursed. "For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now." (Rom 8:22)
In addition to these quotes from Young Living founder Gary Young, Young also cites a book called Healing Oils in the Bible.
The author of this book, David Stewart, seems to equate all biblical references to "oil" with essential oils. But this idea that oils used during biblical times were essential oils is not accurate. In fact, there is no documented historical evidence for usage of essential oils during biblical times. This is because the procedure for making essential oils had not yet been invented, and would not be created for another 800 years or so. Oils and oil usage are
referenced a number of times in the Bible, but these are references to regular, pressed oils (like olive oil) or infused oils, not essential oils. For an excellent analysis of the problems with Stewart's book, please see our recently published article, A Critique of David Stewart's "Healing Oils of the Bible."
This article was written by Sola Sisters contributing writer Marcia Montenegro. Marcia, a former professional astrologer, is the creator of the Christian Answers For the New Age
website, is seminary trained, and is also a contributing writer to Rose Publishing
, a resource very familiar to many homeschooling Christians. (Please also note that Stewart has written an article [Are Chakras New Age?
] affirming an eastern [and unbiblical] view of the body known as the chakra system.)
For a more in-depth analysis of the unbiblical concepts used in the marketing of Young Living essential oils, please see Chuck and Julie Cohen's excellent article, Aromatherapy: Biblical Path to Healing or Demonic Deception?
YOUNG LIVING ESSENTIAL OILS MARKETED WITH UNBIBLICAL CONCEPTS
Here is just one example of Young Living essential oils being marketed with unbiblical concepts. This is a Young Living essential oil blend called "Abundance," which is marketed with the idea that with this oil, the user can activate what is known as the "Law of Attraction." This is not a biblical concept. It is more in alignment with New Thought, which is what Oprah Winfrey believes. Professing Christians who are Word of Faith also believe this concept, but it is still an unbiblical concept. (You can read more about the "Law of Attraction" here, and why it is unbiblical.
The way in which the above oil blend is marketed with unbiblical concepts is only one of many examples from the Young Living website. To see this for yourself, please visit the Young Living website - Young Living Essential Oil Singles can be viewed here
, Young Living Essential Oil Blends can be viewed here
. Below are a few more screenshots of products with product descriptions.
"You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord's table and the table of demons." (1 Cor 10:21)
THE UNREGULATED NATURE OF THE ALTERNATIVE TREATMENT INDUSTRY
From the article entitled The Truth About Nutrition Supplements
(Fitness Magazine, Oct 2009):
"According to a 2002 Harris Poll, more than half of us believe that a government agency like the Food and Drug Administration is keeping a watchful eye on the $20 billion supplement industry......It's not. The federal regulators who would normally be all over poor-quality supplements had their hands tied by a piece of legislation signed into law by President Clinton in 1994 called the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA). The bill was intended to make dietary supplements -- including vitamins, minerals, and herbs -- more widely available by classifying them not as drugs, like aspirin or ibuprofen, but as foods. In practice, that means supplements not only don't have to do what they promise (such as protect against disease) but don't even have to be safe.........The results have been predictable: In 2004 alone, more than 24,000 "toxic exposures" to supplements were reported, while other research showed that some supplements contain potentially dangerous contaminants such as lead, mercury, pesticides, mold, and bacteria.........No wonder some consumer advocates say that this regulatory loophole has helped create a marketplace that fails to protect consumers from contaminated, adulterated and, in some cases, deadly supplements."
A recent program (Safety and Regulation of Dietary Supplements
) on the secular radio station NPR (National Public Radio) also highlighted the growing concern among even the lost that the alternative treatment industry (which includes essential oils) is a largely unregulated arena. I highly recommend for anyone wanting to use, or already using, natural supplements to listen to this program. It was mentioned during the show that testing done by a group called Consumer Labs found that, on many occasions, what was on the outside label of bottles of natural/herbal supplements did NOT accurately portray what was contained within. The reason for this is because there are very few regulatory practices put into place for ensuring quality/accuracy in alternative/"natural"/herbal supplements. What this means is that a person can buy a bottle of an herbal supplement, and be getting something other than what is labeled on the front of the bottle. It could be 100% of the herb, could be 90/10 - herb/filler, or 10/90 - herb/filler, or could be all filler. Same thing with essential oils: a bottle labeled "100% Essential Oil" could be 100% of the oil you are expecting, OR, it could be comprised of 90% carrier oil (like linseed oil, almond oil or olive oil) with only 10% of the essential oil. Again.......it's an unregulated industry.
Just like there are sinful men involved in the FDA, sinful men who act selfishly and make wrong decisions, there are also sinful men involved in the alternative treatment industry. But the sinful men involved in the alternative treatment industry are entirely unregulated, meaning they do not have to meet any scientific or federal standards for the claims they make about their supplements. Both sides are flawed, but at least the FDA has some measure of accountability due to regulatory requirements.
I literally spent thousands on supplements during my decade as a New Ager without knowing that these herbal/natural supplements were (and still are) unregulated. And not only can the substance within not match up with the label, distributors of natural/herbal supplements are not held to the same standards that those in the pharmaceutical industry are held to, in terms of claiming benefits for a supplement that haven't been scientifically verified. And while the common belief is that herbals are only benign, and can only help (and never harm), this is not necessarily true. There is a reason why your doctor often asks you to list not only all medications you are taking, but also all over-the-counter vitamins, mineral and herbal supplements you are taking as well: some supplements can interfere with your prescribed medicines, and some can even work in tandem with your prescribed medicines to cause harm. For more on this, please see the following articles:
- Dietary And Herbal Supplements Could Interfere With Prescription Drugs (Medical News Today)
- Herbal Supplements May Not Mix With Heart Medicines (Mayo Clinic)
- 5 Risky Herbal Supplements: Even Though They're Natural, Some Herbal Supplements Can Be Dangerous (Web MD)
- Warning: Herbal Supplements Don't Always Go Well With Heart Drugs (U.S. News and World Report)
Those selling oils and herbs and other supplements shouldn't automatically get a pass because they are selling "natural" items. Herbs and oils are not somehow more holy than pharmaceuticals (and even though I get that there are problems with the pharmaceutical industry, including over-diagnosis of many medications, that's another topic for another day). The alternative treatment realm is an industry that makes profits in the billions. And yes, that's right up there with Big Pharma.
CHRISTIANS BEING UNEQUALLY YOKED
"Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?" (2 Cor 6:14)
Why would a Christian knowingly sell a product that is marketed with New Age/New Thought/panentheistic concepts, and which could introduce a Christian purchaser to spiritual beliefs that are unbiblical? The obvious answer is that, a true, Bible-believing Christian probably wouldn't, IF, that is, they knew the product they were selling was marketed in that way. Obviously, we are not calling into question anyone's salvation here. Our purpose in writing this article is to give warnings to our brothers and sisters about the unbiblical concepts YL oils are marketed with, and a warning for other believers who may be innocent in this area, and do not have an understanding of what New Age/New Thought concepts are, and how they present themselves. The fact is, demonic deceptions (which New Age/New Thought beliefs are) don't announce themselves boldly or waltz in waving a flag, or wearing a label. They are subtle. Hence the warning to our brothers and sisters.
In the first section, we demonstrated the unbiblical concepts with which Young Living oils are marketed. One of our most pressing concerns about essential oils in general, and Young Living essential oils in particular, is when Christians choose to join with, promote and sell products in partnership with companies that are undergirded with New Age/New Thought beliefs (i.e., being "unequally yoked"). We would therefore strongly urge all Christians to think long and hard before yoking with a company that markets its products with promises of spiritual benefit that should only be ascribed to our Lord.
With this in mind, we've heard the counter-argument to this position that goes something like this:
I am not going to Young Living for my theology, only for essential oils. I don't go to them for theology. How is this not a Romans 14 issue? Or a meat sacrificed to idols issue? Also, I spend money at Target, Amazon, Starbucks, and all these companies support evil and give their money to things like Planned Parenthood and Gay Pride rallies. But my disagreement with the spiritual views of the CEOs of Target, Amazon and Starbucks doesn't stop me from purchasing from them, so why does it matter what the spiritual views of the owner of Young Living are?
Our response to this counter-argument is this: Young Living markets its oils with spiritual concepts (theology), that's the problem. So you're getting theology from them, whether you want it from them or not. Buying gardening tools or books or coffee from secular, gay-affirming corporations like Target, Amazon and Starbucks is not at all the same as buying essential oils from Young Living, or even beyond that, partnering with them to sell products that promise specific spiritual benefits that come only from God. Gardening tools and books and coffee are neutral products, as oils are, and if it stopped there, we could all pack up and go home. But it doesn't stop there. The EOs at Young Living are marketed as providing spiritual benefits, spiritual benefits that should come ONLY from God, and those who partner with Young Living to sell the EOs are responsible for bringing these unbiblical spiritual views to their clients.
One more note: while Gary Young, the founder of Young Living, does
occasionally use scripture and reference the Bible, this does not mean that he is a true believer. We should remember that Oprah and Joel Osteen and Kenneth Copeland and others use Scripture and claim to be Christian, but are far from it. Young's views on sin, sanctification and illness do NOT line up with the Biblical views of sin, sanctification and illness, and in fact, are far more in alignment with eastern and New Thought views. (For more on what New Thought is, please see the article - New Thought: A Warning To Christians
We have made a number of posts about essential oils (and alternative treatments, in general) to our Sola Sisters Facebook page, and it has not escaped our notice that these threads have been among the friskiest of the posts we've made to date, in terms of Christians taking exception to some of our statements. Please understand that our intent in writing about this topic is not to incite our brothers or sisters, nor is it to cause division, nor is it to cause others to stumble. Our reasons for contending so earnestly on the topic of essential oils for the last few months now is that this kind of deception, I am convinced, is spiritual at the core. We need to remember that "Satan is a hungry lion, prowling the earth seeking whom he may devour," (1 Peter 5:8)
and that his desire is to "steal, kill and destroy," (John 10:10).
I don't think Satan is particularly finicky about the deceptions he chooses: if they work to deceive people and shorten their lives, well then, he's all for them and will continue to use them. Remember, Satan hates all human beings because we are made in the image of God.....that's why he wants to destroy us.
Spiritual deceptions are real, and they're not just the Word of Faith kind that are often more easily discerned. The mind not only can be easily deceived, once it is deceived, that deception can have a very, very strong hold on the deceived person. As noted above, I (Christine) literally spent thousands on bogus natural/alternatives "cures" while in the New Age, including aromatherapy, reiki, homeopathy, eating green/organic/sustainable, etc. I had an entire lifestyle built around eating and living in a certain way. Looking back, of course, I can see why (as a New Ager) I bought into all that I did and lived that way, and I can see how strong the deception was. But now, I am seeing many, many, many Christians getting caught up in the same kind of beliefs and mindset that I had as a New Ager. It's almost surreal to see it happening. I'm not saying we should all just be gluttonous and foolish and not try to make wise decisions about our health and eating and lifestyle, but I am seeing the same sort of "lifestyle righteousness" that gripped me and so many of my New Age friends, and amongst believers, of all people. Believers, for whom this world is not a final resting place, and for whom this world is just a present age passing away.
We are commanded in Scripture to "take EVERY thought captive in obedience to Christ," and to "test ALL things" (my emphasis). So I hope that my sisters (and brothers) who enjoy essential oils aren't taking offense at my desire to "test all things".... chiefly, in holding up some of the unbiblical concepts and ideas conveyed through some of these essential oils websites.
In summary, we pray that our fellow Christians will be on alert for unbiblical concepts being introduced in the alternative treatment realm, specifically in the area of essential oils. Most alternative treatment products are unregulated, and some can even cause harm when used. We also think that it is important for Christians to do their due diligence and biblically think through all partnerships they enter into, being on alert for unbiblical concepts that they might unwittingly be a partner to transmitting to others.
"For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Cor 10:3-5)
"Examine all things; hold fast to what is good. Stay away from every form of evil." (1 Thess 5:21-22)
Essential Oils Revisited
Aromatherapy: Biblical Path to Healing or Demonic Deception?
(Chuck and Julie Cohen)
A Critique of David Stewart's Healing Oils of the Bible
The FDA Warns Young Living, doTERRA Essential Oils Companies To Stop Making Unsubstantiated Claims That The Oils Can Treat Cancer, Protect Against Ebola
(Food and Drug Administration, 9-22-2014)
How To Use Essential Oils: A Step-By-Step Guide
(satire, warning: some mild language)
A Warning for Christians About New Thought
Natural = Better?
Alternative Medicine: A Mind Blowing Magical Mystery Tour
(Free, online e-book exposing the unsubstantiated claims [both currently and historically] made about many "natural" remedies)
Wellness: The New Age Trojan Horse In Healthcare
(Sola Sisters/Marcia Montenegro)
Update: Ingrid Schlueter Interviews Marcia Montenegro and Christine Pack (Crosstalk at VCY America 4/26/11) to Discuss The Wellness Article - you may listen here
The Unregulated Nature of the Alternative Treatment Industry: Does the Label On The Outside Tell The Truth About What's Inside?
The Truth About Nutritional Supplements
(Fitness Magazine, 10-01-2009)
Safety and Regulation of Dietary Supplements
(NPR radio interview, 7-16-2014)
Dietary And Herbal Supplements Could Interfere With Prescription Drugs
(Medical News Today)
Herbal Supplements May Not Mix With Heart Medicines
5 Risky Herbal Supplements: Even Though They're Natural, Some Herbal Supplements Can Be Dangerous
Warning: Herbal Supplements Don't Always Go Well With Heart Drugs
(U.S. News and World Report)
The Value and Importance of Scientific Studies
The Biblical Worldview Is The Foundation of Modern Science
The Scientific Method and Why It Matters
Warnings About Homeopathy
Warnings About Essential Oil Toxicity
Essential Oil Safety: Documented Side Effects, Injuries, and Deaths from Essential Oil Ingestion
Eucalyptus Oil and Essential Oils Poisoning
(The Royal Children's Hospital - Melbourne, AU)
Can Aromatherapy Oils Poison You? How Tiny Particles 'May Damage Liver and Kidneys'
(Daily Mail, UK)
Hidden Dangers of Essential Oils: The Frightening Truth About Natural Remedies Such as Olbas Oil Which Can Cause Heart Problems, Convulsions and Eye Ulcers
(Daily Mail, UK)
Warning About Peppermint Oil Overdose
(New York Times)
Shannon: Haddad and Winchester's Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose, 4th ed.
Toxic Effects of Essential Oils - Addresses Oils Taken Orally and Externally
(The Research Pedia)
Sola Sisters Facebook Wall Threads - Essential Oils
Sola Sisters Facebook wall - February 23, 2014
Sola Sisters Facebook wall - April 24, 2014
Sola Sisters Facebook wall -April 26, 2014
Sola Sisters Facebook wall - June 28, 2014 (general warning about essential oils)
Sola Sisters Facebook wall - June 30, 2014 (critique of essential oils/YL by Chuck and Julie Cohen)
Sola Sisters Facebook wall - July 11, 2014 (should Christians partner with companies who market their products with unbiblical spiritual concepts?)
Sola Sisters Facebook wall - July 28, 2014 (discussion re: Sola Sisters' concerns about YL/alternative)
Sola Sisters Facebook wall - Aug 4, 2014 (pressure from church leaders, including pastors' wives, to purchase essential oils)
Sola Sisters Facebook wall - Aug 3, 2014 (warning re: essential oils marketed w/New Age worldview)
Sola Sisters Facebook wall - Aug 3, 2014 (subtlety of New Age concepts, and how they are presented)
Sola Sisters Facebook wall - Aug 4, 2014 (pressure from church leaders, including pastors' wives, to purchase essential oils)
Sola Sisters Facebook wall - Sep 26, 2014 (FDA writes a warning letter to Young Living, doTerra essential oils companies)
Sola Sisters Facebook wall - Sep 27, 2014 (essential oils not so "natural")
Sola Sisters Facebook wall - Sep 28, 2014 (documented cases, and warnings about essential oil toxicity)
Sola Sisters Facebook wall - Sep 28, 2014 (discussion re: claims by essential oils distributors that essential oils cannot cause allergies)
Sola Sisters Facebook wall - Sep 28, 2014 (discussion re: the dangers of essential oil ingestion)
Sola Sisters Facebook wall - Sep 29, 2014 (challenging claims by essential oils distributors that adverse reactions are simply the body "detoxifying")
Sola Sisters Facebook wall - Jan 2, 2015 (warning about essential oil induced seizures in children)
Sola Sisters Facebook wall - Aug 14, 2014 (news article warning about essential oils)
John Ankerberg Resources and Articles