Showing posts with label young living. Show all posts
Showing posts with label young living. Show all posts

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Christian and Essential Oils: A Few Thoughts [UPDATED]

Posted by Christine Pack and Cathy Mathews

photo credit: Plume Natural Perfumery via photopin cc
[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.


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" 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?


Abundance essential oil blend, from theYoung Living website
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 hereYoung Living Essential Oil Blends can be viewed here. Below are a few more screenshots of products with product descriptions.

Aroma Life essential oil blend, from the Young Living website

Dream Catcher essential oil blend, from the Young Living website
Forgiveness essential oil blend, from the Young Living website

Release essential oil blend, from the Young Living website
White Angelica essential oil blend, from the Young Living website

"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) 


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."
photo credit: veo_ via photopin cc
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.'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.

"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)

 Additional Resources 

Essential Oils Revisited (Sola Sisters)

Aromatherapy: Biblical Path to Healing or Demonic Deception? (Chuck and Julie Cohen)

A Critique of David Stewart's Healing Oils of the Bible (Marcia Montenegro)

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 (Marcia Montenegro)

Natural = Better? (Sola Sisters)

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

Are We All Syncretists Now? A Conversation About Evangelical Christianity and Alternative Medicine with Historian Candy Gunther Brown (Dr. Al Mohler) (Please note that there is an MP3 download as well as a transcript available of this interview)

True Spirituality, Health and Science: Where Do We Draw The Lines? (Marcia Montenegro)

Hospitals: A New Dark Age? (CANA)

No Scientific Evidence For "Chi" or "Qi"
 (NYU Langone Medical Center)

 Warnings About Alternative Treatments 

Alternative Medicine: A Mind Blowing Magical Mystery Tour  (Online e-book exposing the unsubstantiated claims [both currently and historically] made about many "natural" remedies.....I highly recommend this eye-opening, FREE ebook)

The Unregulated Nature of the Alternative Treatment Industry: Does the Label On The Outside Tell The Truth About What's Inside? (Sola Sisters)

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 (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)

 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 (Hub Pages)

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)

Danger for Cats: Essential Oils (Articulate Animals Blog)

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 - 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)

 John Ankerberg Resources and Articles 

A Critique of David Stewart's "Healing Oils of the Bible"

Article by Marcia Montenegro (Christians Answers For The New Age)
But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil. 1 Thess. 5:21, 22 
"But I say to you that something greater than the temple is here.” Matt. 12:6 
And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. Phil 1: 9-11
(Note: The following article is an examination of some of the spiritual views in the book Healing Oils of the Bible by David Stewart, along with some other issues, but it is not a commentary on the use or components of essential oils or their medical efficacy.)

Healing Oils of the Bible by David Stewart, is a book whose title and content suggest it is compatible with a biblical and Christian worldview.  However, in less than five minutes, by randomly reading a few pages, I was able to tell that a very non-biblical worldview is present in at least the pages I read. Further reading revealed more of the same. Yet there are several endorsements from Christians at the front of the book.

Several problems surface in the book, other than blatant non-Christian beliefs, including an adulation of nature, a dangerous anti-medical view, and a misuse and misapplication of Bible Scripture. Additionally, Stewart endorses a book by Pastor Henry Wright, a book which has been criticized for its misuse of Scripture. (I am also aware of the consternation Wright’s book has caused among many Christian ministries).


It is undoubtedly true that some of the properties of the oils have the effects claimed by Stewart, and it is true that essential oils can help minor problems. However, Stewart not only expresses hostility to any type of pharmaceutical treatment and to doctors, but he gives medical advice in this book, yet he is not a medical doctor!

Stewart had one semester in medical school. His undergraduate degree is in mathematics and physics, while his graduate degree (the PhD in the “Dr.” title, which I am not using since it is misleading) is for geophysics (theoretical seismology), which has to do with earthquake study. This hardly qualifies him to give medical advice, yet he generously dispenses such advice, even suggesting that the use of two essential oil products “can create an environment that makes it difficult for cancer cells to survive” (283), and the use of another will straighten the spine and add up to an inch or more in height within an hour (80)! Such outrageous claims should cause any reader to take his other advice with a large shaker of salt.

If readers can be convinced that essential oils have healing power from God and that modern medicine and doctors are not from God, then the essential oils business this book services will garner more customers in the Christian community. Stewart pushes this thinking by constant attacks on the medical profession and pharmaceuticals. Oils are always from God and manmade medicines are not. This idea greets the reader in the first chapter, startlingly titled, “God: The First Aromatherapist.” This view about what is and is not from God is not only false, but is mostly based on fallacious logic combined with New Age views about nature.

Mishandling of scriptural passages abound in this book. One is the convoluted attempt to apply First Corinthians 14:33 to the use of modern drugs. Another is citing Heb. 6:18 (that states God cannot lie) as meaning that essential oils are “full of truth” (47). The latter example is also a logical fallacy called begging the question because Stewart gives no biblical evidence that essential oils (which did not exist in Bible times anyway) were meant as medicine for today, so his assertion is baseless. In yet another instance, Stewart equates rejection of Jesus with disbelief in essential oils (82). This idea, if accepted, would certainly make those advocating oils feel righteous, but it is an insult to Jesus Christ. There are too many examples like this to discuss.

Stewart gives a reluctant nod to physicians, saying there are times one may need them, but prayer should be involved. While prayer is certainly a good thing, it is not a sin to see a doctor, or to see a doctor without prayer. Modern medicine is based on the objective data and laws that God put in place when he created our bodies. Stewart has an unbiblical view of prayer which is the root of this advice, to be explained later.

While medicine, like anything else, can be misused and errors occur, the data itself about our bodies that has been discovered and observed is a gift from God to help us know how our bodies work. The anti-medical bias in the book sets up a false dilemma between essential oils and “natural” products and modern medical treatments.

Before examining the spirituality in the book, three misleading assumptions need mention.


 Three Underlying Assumptions 

The book is based on the belief that essentials oils were used in biblical times, but this is not true. Oils were either olive oils or infused oils, not the oils processed today as essential oils.
“The oils referred to in the Bible are infused oils, not essential oils. The Bible also refers to incense – which is also a completely different product than an essential oil…. And those four Thieves blend you also may have read about? They ALSO were not using essential oils!...The story goes something like this, four thieves in France protected themselves from the black plague with cloves, rosemary, and other aromatics while robbing victims of the black plague, but who never got sick. “When captured, they were offered a lighter sentence in exchange for their secret recipe.” 
This “Thieves oil blend” usually includes Clove, Cinnamon Bark, Rosemary, Lemon and Eucalyptus. This story is historical fiction. The thieves were probably using a botanical vinegar and not essential oils” (online source
“The process of steam distillation was at least eight centuries away from refinement and popular use. Healing oils and unguents of the biblical age were infused oils, made largely from macerating plant matter in olive oil, palm oil, or tallow.” (online source
“[T]here is no evidence of distillation taking place during biblical times. Many modern authors incorrectly refer to essential oil use during this time of history. When old, translated material refers to a healing oil, for example, many have erroneously assumed this is an essential oil. It is thought that aromatic oils were made by infusion, which we now refer to as infused oils” (online source
Yet Stewart continues to allude to “essential oils” of the Bible. This in itself is enough to discredit most of the book.

Secondly, it is difficult knowing what exact plants in the Bible correspond to plants we know today (this is also true for names of animals).
“Myriad translations of the Bible have contributed significantly to plant mis-identifications as well as the fact that the science of botany is rather new in the development of human knowledge and consistent botanical nomenclature was not established yet when so many translations were written.” (online source
In fact, Stewart himself admits this difficulty with plant identification on page 98 and elsewhere of the book. Despite this, references to plants such as hyssop continue although the word translated as “hyssop” is thought by some scholars to indicate marjoram or the caper plant (online source, see also here).

Third, there is the assumption that because certain oils were used in Bible times there is something sacred or special about them, and we should be using them now as our main medicine. Plants and oils were used then because that is what they had. Anointing with oil in the Old Testament is usually symbolic, often of the Holy Spirit. There is nothing inherently sacred or supernaturally healing in oils, as Stewart clearly believes. Nor does it mean that oils are superior to medicine we have today. However, this is Stewart’s clear assumption. There is a spiritual reason for this, as we shall see.

Even if the above problems did not exist, the profound non-Christian spiritual views in the book are so prevalent that they alone are a sufficient reason to warn against this work.


The overwhelming worldview in the book is a mixture of Vitalism and Gnostic esotericism, all of which are part of New Thought and New Age spirituality.

 Vitalism: Life Force, Divine Intelligence, and Panentheism 

On the very first page of the Introduction, “Healing Versus the Practice of Medicine,” we find this statement:
“These oils are the vital fluids of the plants that are their life blood…..Essential oils contain life force, intelligence, and vibrational energy that imbues them with healing power that works for people.”
The “life force” and “intelligence” of plants are concepts from Vitalism, an ancient pagan philosophy with a long history that includes the animal magnetism of hypnotist Anton Mesmer (a pioneer of New Thought), and which revived in the 19th century with Samuel Hahnemann, founder of the energy-based method Homeopathy.  The basic view is that there is an invisible energy or life force which can be channeled, captured, or manipulated for healing.

Contemporary forms of this are New Age energy healing modalities such as Reiki, Therapeutic Touch, and any alleged healing treating the body’s energy field or chakras (invisible wheels of energy in the body connected to spiritual awakening, according to Hinduism).

While treating his pastor’s pneumonia using his famed “raindrop technique,” Stewart writes that, as he did so, he told the patient:
“by dropping these oils a few inches about the skin, they are falling through your electromagnetic field and will start administering therapy to you before they even hit your body” (emphasis added, 214).
How will oils “administer therapy” before hitting one’s body? This can only happen if one believes in an energy field surrounding the body, what is called “the subtle body” in the New Age. This “body” has no visible or objective data supporting it because it is a pagan spiritual view very much related to the New Age. It is not based on rational thinking, facts, or a Christian outlook.

Stewart’s acceptance of New Age views of energy are blatantly sprinkled throughout the book. Oils were “gently extracted” in Bible times, claims Stewart, “to preserve their life force and therapeutic constituents” (177).

God’s word in speaking creation into existence, according to Stewart, imbued nature with a special vibration: “Word is a vibration, a frequency, a consciousness, an expression of energy” (Introduction, xvii). By speaking plants into existence, God “imbued them with his word and his intelligence” and this, of course, included the oils (ibid).

Astonishingly, Stewart tells readers that demons “don’t like essential oils” because the “high vibrations” and “high energies” of oils “put there by God are too much to take and make them want to leave” (89). Not only is this a Vitalist, New Thought view, but it also reveals elevating natural substances to a higher level than how God created them. This view of nature is the same as the magical environmentalism in the New Age. There are further references to the “vibrations” of the oils so this is not a random remark.

To believe that plants contain God’s intelligence and a consciousness is Panentheism, the claim that God is contained in creation and creation is in God. God speaking creation into existence did not in any way meld any part of God with creation, but that is what this view asserts.

Therefore, man-made or synthetic products are “dead” since they do not contain “the life force, the intelligence, and the vibrational energy found in healing oils” (xvi) and so will have “no healing quality” (187).

I had this same view when I was a New Ager, that synthetic materials would be “dead” and have a negative “energy.” This is why we clothed our son only in cotton or “natural” materials, and did not use plastic dishes or tableware, believing that it would “kill” the “energy” in the food we ate.

Compounding this unbiblical view, Stewart claims that since essential oils are products of God’s word, they will respond to our thoughts and words! “Essential oils magnify intent” so we can “mentally or verbally direct them to places in the body that need therapy” and “the oils respond to your thoughts and understand.” Not only do we have that very New Age proclamation, but “when we pray over oils, their frequencies increase” (93).

Here is a worldview that a non-thinking extraction from a plant can understand and respond to our thoughts and words; and that prayer, rather than an appeal to the Lord of the universe, works by increasing the “frequencies” of the oils.

Only man is made in God’s image; plants are part of God’s creation but they do not possess the ability to respond to thoughts and words. Such a belief system is not only New Age but occultic, and is contrary to every principle of God’s word about God, man and creation.

 New Thought and Divine Intelligence 

This “intelligence” of plants and nature is common to New Age philosophy because it is a component of it. An example is Deepak Chopra’s view of God as a “divine intelligence” permeating creation. This is a view also from New Thought, a movement claiming to be Christian but which denies all the essentials of the Christian faith. New Thought gave rise to Unity, Christian Science, and the Church of Religious Science (the teachings of the latter church’s co-founder, Ernest Holmes, influenced Norman Vincent Peale and Robert Schuller as well as many Christians).

Expressing this view about intelligence, a New Thought luminary, Abel Leighton Allen, writes in his book, The Message of New Thought:
“The adherents of New Thought conceive of a universal mind or divine intelligence pervading and permeating the universe, manifesting in all forms of creation; that there is also a unity of life and that each individual is a part of that intelligence and that universal life and spirit. The visible forms of nature are the expressions of that divine life and intelligence, and the same life and intelligence that seek expression in the bud, the grass blade, the flower, the bird and animal, are also seeking expression in man.”
“The highest conception of religion as taught by New Thought is to unfold and develop the soul into harmonious relations with divine intelligence, and thus come into spiritual unity with God.” (online source
Why is it so essential to have this life force and vibration from the plants via (supposedly) essential oils? Stewart tells us:
“One of the most important modalities of the oils is their ability to lift our bodily frequencies to levels where disease cannot exist” (33). 
If you have not been involved in or studied the New Age, this statement might seem strange. But in the New Age, this makes sense because the body is seen as existing on vibrational levels, and the “higher” the level one reaches, the more “pure” and healthy one becomes. Here Stewart claims that the oils will help raise the vibrations of the body to higher levels.

The concept of spiritual levels is in the New Age and the occult and could be classified under Gnostic esotericism, the foundation of such thinking.

 Gnostic Esotericism 

Stewart extolls something he calls the “the seven levels of heaven,” a “secret teaching” of the Jews, which is the name for his 7th Heaven Kit of oils. Stewart explains what this term means:
“In order to reach God, one ascends through seven ‘levels’ or ‘rings’ of consciousness (or spiritual awareness) with the top, or seventh level, being total awareness of or complete communion with God, himself” (273). 
Why is this teaching not in the Bible? Stewart’s conclusion is that the Bible’s authors did not share this because it could be “shared only with persons of sufficient spiritual development” (273).

Stewart then tries to support this view from the Second Corinthians 12 passage where Paul writes about going to (or his vision of) the “third heaven” as well as the repeated use of “seven” in the book of Revelation.

Did Jesus teach the 7th heaven concept? Stewart writes that we cannot know but claims that Jesus did teach secrets and “esoteric” and “hidden” matters via parables, allegories, and “symbols” (275). While parables veiled the meaning from those who refused to recognize Jesus as the Messiah, Jesus never taught esoterica, which is a hallmark of occultism. Esoterica is intended only for a few who are initiated into a secret group or body of beliefs, such as the Gnostic beliefs which attacked the teachings of Jesus and denied his nature.

Jesus himself said: "I have spoken openly to the world; I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together; and I spoke nothing in secret” (John 18:20).

This erroneous occult concept is compounded in the discussion of the seven oil blends in the 7th Heaven Kit (where the assertion that Paul’s term “third heaven” supports seven levels of heaven is repeated). Claims for all of these include a promotion of New Age views.

The most egregious are Awaken, which is to “awaken our spiritual awareness and consciousness of our true inner selves” to bring an “inner knowing to reach one’s highest potential” (277), and White Angelica, whose oils allegedly were used to increase the intensity and size of the “aura (electric field) around the body)” as well as claiming that “its frequency neutralizes negative energy” (278).

The information on the 7th Heaven Kit is to be passed on in sales situations, so this New Age occultism is being promoted to even more people than those who read the book. This is deeply disturbing.

So what was Paul’s “third heaven?” Is this a “level” of heaven? The “third heaven” referred to the location of God:
Paul was suddenly snatched up into the third heaven which, transcending the first (earth’s atmosphere; Deut. 11:11; 1 Kings 8:35; Isa. 55:10) and second (interplanetary and interstellar space; Gen. 15:5; Ps. 8:3; Isa. 13:10) heavens, is the abode of God (1 Kings 8:30; Ps. 33:13–14; Matt. 6:9). (online source)
Also see What Does It Mean When the Bible Refers to Third Heaven 


As mentioned, there are numerous misuses of Scripture but two examples especially highlight this.

God told the Israelites to strike the lintels and doorposts in Egypt with hyssop during the last plague because the fragrance of hyssop supposedly “was a part of the ritual to cause the evil spirit of death to pass over” them (209).

But there was no “evil spirit of death!” The Lord himself announced that He would pass over them:
“The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt” (Ex. 12:13; also vv. 23, 27).
How can Stewart ignore the clear data in the passage and tell his readers that it was “an evil spirit of death” that was passing over Egypt? It is difficult to know what to conclude from such a gross error except that one should be skeptical about Stewart’s information about and conclusions from biblical passages.

When David begs forgiveness from God in the anguished Psalm 51, he states in verse 7: “Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” Stewart writes that the hyssop oil “directed by our sincere intent” can actually “create a clean heart and restore a right spirit in ourselves” and “can blot out our transgressions” (both statements are quotes from Ps. 51) as well as “erase the sinful tendencies (negative emotions) stored in cellular memory, thus releasing and cleansing the root cause of wrong action” (210).

Note that Stewart points to the hyssop oil as the agent of healing and forgiveness. This is an audacious assertion. Verse 7 in Psalm 51 is a parallelism where the purifying with hyssop is referring to and representing God’s washing of David through forgiveness. Secondly, no substance can do what Stewart is stating the hyssop did. Furthermore, what does “directed by our sincere intent” mean? That we are actually in charge of creating a clean heart and restoring a right spirit through our intention? New Thought-New Age author and speaker, Wayne Dyer, would agree (ironically, Dyer has been a speaker at Young Living conventions, the company for which this book was written). And finally, note that Stewart equates sinful tendencies with “negative emotions.” These views are perfectly consistent with New Thought and New Age beliefs.

The hyssop in Psalm 51 is possibly alluding to the cleansing of the leper in Leviticus 14, but it is not the hyssop that heals the leper, but God who forgives and heals based on the sacrifices delineated in the rest of that chapter. “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Heb. 9:22). This is a picture, as all sacrifices were, of the blood that would be shed by Christ in the atonement as payment for the penalty of sins. Hyssop in Psalm 51 is clearly a picture of God’s forgiveness based on mercy and grace due to David’s repentance.

By ascribing healing and forgiveness power to a plant, Stewart undermines God’s majesty and power and gives magical abilities to a plant. If it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to remove sin (Heb. 10:4), how can our intention and the oil of plant do so?


Contrary to Panentheism, God’s word makes it clear that God is holy and distinct from creation: Gen. 1, 2; Job 38:4-41; Is. 44:6, 24-25; Is. 45: 11, 12, 18, 22; and Is. 46: 9-11. There is no “intelligence” from God or his word that permeates plants or creation, as asserted by Stewart.

We are to use reason and the rational mind:  Ps. 16:7; Prov. 1:2-5, 18:15, 22:17; Is. 1:18; Matt. 22:37; Acts 17:17, 18:4, 19; Rom. 12:3; 1 Cor. 14:15; and Phil. 4:8. The Bible is in words, and language is based on logic and reason, all of which come from God’s character. Modern medicine has resulted through discovering and testing the laws that regulate our bodies, laws put in place by God, as well as discovery of substances to treat illness. The body functions in ways that can be determined so that treatments can be assessed. While doctors and scientists can misinterpret, make mistakes, or be greedy, these flaws have nothing to do with the objective data and laws created by God.

Science and the Christian faith are not in conflict. In fact, the ability to think and reason that God has given man has enabled him to come up with solutions to illnesses people used to die from in large numbers. This is due to God’s order in the world and the reasoning function in man’s mind.

The filter for a Christian is God’s word when one encounters teachings or a book that cites the Bible and uses it to support a philosophy. We must be on guard for mishandling of God’s word and spiritual views that conflict with it. It does not matter how popular the book or author are, how many other Christians recommend it, or how appealing it is.
Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment. John 7:24


A Commentary on Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts (Panentheism) 

A Summary and Critique of James Redfield’s The Celestine Prophecy (energy views)

Wayne Dyer: The Wisdom of the New Spirituality (New Spirituality views)

Anointing with oil (biblical commentary)

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)

Regarding the Greek word pharmakeia, translated as sorcery and witchcraft in some passages, as being equivalent to modern day pharmaceuticals and medicines, see biblical commentary on Galatians 5:20.

See also Sorcery in the Bible, Pharmakeia and Modern Medicine: Any Connection?