Are Essential Oils a Scam? ~ A Skeptic Looks at Thieves® Oil

I thought essential oils were a scam. Then I got really sick and got to put them to the test. Did the Thieves Oil perform? Find out what happened next.

I’m not one to trust in alternative remedies easily.

Really, I’m not. However, when one is really sick and mainstream medicine isn’t helping, one starts looking elsewhere. With all that we’ve been through with autism, adrenal fatigue, heavy metals, and more, I’ve been in and out of doctor’s offices.  I’ve tried, among other things:

  • chiropractic
  • homeopathy
  • kinesiology
  • ionic foot bath (just once)
  • acupressure
  • tons of supplements (no – I haven’t weighed them.  But if I did I’m scared if it would be close.)
  • Nutritional Balancing.  Our current plan that I’m really pleased with.  See more in this adrenal fatigue – and this one too.

Anyway, we’ve tried a lot on our road to healing.  I’ve been really careful not to mortgage the farm (er – our house) in trying to heal my son’s autism, but it’s been tempting at times.

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Looking back at that list, I guess it’s pretty hard to think that I’m a skeptic, right?

But really I am.

We’ve tried a lot, but we really did put a lot of thought into all of these “healing options” and most of them we aren’t doing anymore.

Either haven’t worked, or we’ve found something that’s worked better or cheaper.

Well, the latest object of my skepticism is….you guessed it.  Essential Oils.

I’d heard about essential oils a number of times over the years.

People would tell me how great essential oils were and I’d think, “Yeah, right.”

“You’re just trying to get me into another one of those network marketing things.”

And frankly, putting oil on your body and healing anything sounded, well, basically loaded with woo woo foo foo to me.

Well, it seemed that over and over someone would be telling me about essential oils. Especially the antibacterial blends, often called “Thieves” or “Four Thieves” or something like that.

Those blends and the oils in them are supposed to be antiviral, antibacterial.

“Yeah, right. Sure,” this skeptic thought.

I thought essential oils were a scam. Then I got really sick and got to put them to the test. Did the Thieves Oil perform? Find out what happened next.

I Got Sick

Anyway, about 10 months ago, I got sick.

Really sick.

I had a bad cold that I just couldn’t shake. For a long time.

I had fluid in my ear and then my nose – and then both. Three weeks or more passed.  I started asking friends for advice and feared that the dreaded antibiotic would be in my future. One natural-minded friend suggested I try one of these multi-level-marketing company anti-bacterial blends.

“I always use that when I feel something coming on.  It’s great!”, she said.

“So, do you sell the oils?”  I asked.


OK then.  Someone recommending it who wasn’t selling it. Now I was seriously curious.

I went on a hunt to get some without spending the huge retail price for a bottle.

I got a small sample from a local woman, but it wasn’t nearly enough to deal with my problem. So I called the original person who had told me about Young Living and she sent me a larger sample, enough to get me through a few days.

Three days after I started taking the oil (I took 5 drops, followed by a “gulp” of water, up to 5 times per day) –I was better.

Good stuff.

Since then, this oil blend, or similar blends from other companies have helped myself and others with:

Fingernail Infection

I used to be really prone to these – getting an infection just after something jabbed me under my fingernail (for one of them about 5 years ago, I ended up needing antibiotics since it got really nasty).  I hadn’t gotten them for awhile, but did about 5 months ago.

Colloidal silver and peroxide wouldn’t do anything, so I thought about the “Thieves oil-type” blend.

I stuck a little of the oil (straight / neat – I wanted it to be strong and didn’t care if it stung) on another clean fingernail, pushed it into the injured area – and a few days and several treatments later, the infection was gone.

Herpes Sores 

One night, while we were out, my son complained that his lip was sore.  He said he’d gotten bumped.  When we got home, however, there were 6-7 obvious herpes sores, filled with pus (sorry to be so descriptive.)

After doing research on oils and herpes sores, I ended up trying Thieves again, this time mixed 1:1 with olive oil.

The next day, here is what his lip looked like. (I wish I’d thought to take a photo the first day.  Sigh.)

Herpes Cold Sores

There was no sign of the sores within 3 days.

Cystic Acne

I used to have a rough time with acne in my 20s but hadn’t really struggled with any skin issues but rosacea since then.  Suddenly, this past month, I started getting some small breakouts.  None of them really bothered me, however, until I got a large cystic breakout next to my cheek.

I used the anti-bacterial blend mixed 1:1 with oil and overnight the cyst had shrunk noticeably.  Within 3 days it was gone.

Another reader shared that she’s used one of these blends on some underarm cysts / sores and they’ve vanished.

Sinus Infection

A local reader who is prone to sinus issues had a bad sinus infection again.  She ended up trying the Immune Strength blend from my favorite essential oils company, and all signs of the infection were gone overnight.

Persistent Illness with Fever

Another local reader’s son had a bad fever for several days that was had become worrisome.  She’d gotten an Rx for an antibiotic but really didn’t want to fill it (see my story about avoiding antibiotics).  She ended up trying an anti-bacterial essential oils blend along with an herbal supplement and said that the next day her son woke up and he was his old self again.

The “Thieves Oil Story”

Thieves-type oils were apparently developed from historical information about four thieves in France who would rob victims of the Black Plague (get it–stealing things off of dead bodies.  Ick.)

They’d protect themselves from the plague with a secret recipe of natural ingredients including cloves and rosemary. The thieves were captured and given a lighter sentence in exchange for their recipe. And it really works.

Essential Oils can be a very valid part of your natural medicine cabinet. I’ll fill you in on more in my next post on essential oils where I’ll talk about Peppermint, Wintergreen and other oils and my experience with them. And I really don’t mean this to be a commercial.  I am just so floored by my experience with them that I feel compelled to share (some things are just too good to keep to yourself!)

Money Stuff

So – how do essential oils fit into a “financially concerned” household?  You can buy these blends pre-blended for convenience and the essential oils company that I recommend has a blend called Immune Strength that is more reasonably priced than the MLM brands.  You can go here to see how I ended up choosing this company.  It’s a series, so you can read what you like – some of the comments got pretty dicey though.

And when someone gets sick, we don’t go through a whole bottle.  It’s a whole lot cheaper than the gas (whoa – $4 per gallon?!) and copay and maybe an antibiotic on top of it.  And we all know there is more than up-front finances involved with antibiotics and other meds, right?

Additionally, you can make your own anti-bacterial essential oils blend and save a bunch of money that way.

Interested in learning more about using essential oils for healthy living?  This book looks like a GREAT resource:

Essential Oils Natural Remedies Book

Please share your thoughts on and questions about essential oils.

This post is for entertainment purposes only and is not to be used as medical advice as I am not a physician, nor do I pretend to be one. Please consult with your physician prior to using any kind of natural remedy or supplement.  Thank you.


    Speak Your Mind


  1. I to have went to oils in helping with my not going to go into depth with the many ways oils have helped me. I am going to say this..everyone needs to be there own advocate when it comes to your health. Do your own research. A word of caution when using oils..if it has a date on it dont use it..its got chmicals in it (u dont want that, you are trying to get away from chemicals) ONLY use oils that are 100% pure!!

  2. I just purchased the thieves and orange oil to use with my toothpaste (my friend swears by them both) I haven’t used them yet, because I’m nervous about mix them with some medicine I take
    (I sometimes take a anti -anxiety medicine) I can’t find any info on mixing the two.. But I did a homebirth and my mid-wife used peppermint oil on my lower back for the contrations and I feel it helped alot!

    • Hi there. I am not sure that using an essential oil as a toothpaste is a concern regarding meds. Is that what you are concerned about? I think med interactions go for internal use. Here is a good article on the topic:

      I hope that helps?

    • jamie winter says:

      I also had anxiety I use only Young Living Oils. I use Peace & calming, Valor and many more they are awesome. I no longer take any anxiety meds, allergy meds or sleep meds. These oils have no effect on your meds. I use that same combo on my Thieves Tooth paste.

      • patricia lynch says:

        Just starting with Young Living oils but am impressed

        how do you use Peace and Valor for anxiety. Got some as gift but havent tried them for anxiety.

  3. Thank you for your reply, that was what I was concerned about, but your right it’s just if you use the oils internally. Thank you for your help:)

    • Hi again. I just wanted to clarify that I think it’s important to use pure oils no matter what. If you are putting things in your mouth that would could be absorbed into the bloodstream, or if you are diffusing and the adulterants would be breathed. Purity is everything. Take care. On the other hand, of course if things can be absorbed into the blood stream, maybe you should be cautious about interactions but I think it’s not as big of a deal. Of course, I am not a medical professional so please consult w/ your physician.

  4. I absolutely LOVE the thieves oil blend. I also use it for cystic acne, or any cuts/scrapes. It heals them up amazingly fast. Recently I even had a bruised toenail that refused to heal. It had been discolored and purple for almost 6 months. I started applying the Thieves oil nightly, and now the toenail has started growing again and the bruising is going away. Had no idea you could take it internally! Great to know. Oh and I also dabbed it on a canker sore that developed after I bit the side of my mouth – gone by the next day. This stuff is truly amazing. The Young Living is so expensive. I just look for various Thieves oils to buy on Ebay, or I buy all 5 of the essential oils separately and mix a batch myself at home. But yep, tried and true – this essential oil blend works wonders!

    • So many love Thieves – I have a DIY blend here and the NAN / RMO blend is less expensive as well:

    • Brenda Tippin says:

      For those who enjoy Thieves, Young Living just introduced an all new line of 27 oils called Vitality, which are labeled for dietary use. These are the same pure high quality oils they have always offered, but specially labeled so consumers can quickly recognize oils that are safe for internal consumption. Also I have heard FDA is further tightening restrictions and do not want labels to say an oil is both for topical and internal use.Anyway, these are 5 ml size bottles, including Thieves and several other popular ones so you can now purchase this size at much less cost. Even a 5 ml bottle will last a very long time as one drop goes a long way so it is a good value for high quality oils..

  5. Curious, did this heal your son’s genetic disorder that is autism?

  6. I’m really confused. I signed up with YL on the weekend….haven’t received my kit yet. But the info on the net…mostly negative on this company ?? Some interesting testimonials… on eo’s for sure….but now I’m having 2nd thoughts about YL and the opportunity. Hmmmmm

  7. Sounds like you’re shilling for the essential oils business. I have a degree in biochemistry and spent seven years conducting research at a major medical school in the northeast, so I know a bit about the science of this stuff. And there is no science to this stuff. Either you have allowed yourself to “believe” that it was working or you are being paid to write a testimonial.

    • Hi there. Well, I certainly am not “shilling”.

      The definition of a “shill” is:

      an accomplice of a hawker, gambler, or swindler who acts as an enthusiastic customer to entice or encourage others.

      I am not acting. I like essential oils. A lot. I think they are a part of natural healing but not for everything in every circumstance.

      As for your claim that there is no science, I am curious about that.

      Here are some studies on oils.

      Eucalyptus: many studies cited here:

      May I ask if you dispute these studies? There are many more – this is just a sampling. Thanks.

    • Karina,
      You could have 6 degrees and I can tell you as a person with Acute Intermittent Porphyria, this stuff has saved my life! Yes, the mind is a powerful thing that is for sure, but I am allergic to every class of anti biotics. I can take 2 and one is by IV, and even that one I can only take for 3 days before I break out in blisters and start throwing up like the exorcist. These oils help with pain, insomnia, anxiety, infection and everything in between for me. As a person with your “intelligence” can google and figure out, the less medications, the better for someone in my position. I am so grateful for the quality of life that these oils have given me.

  8. Hi Adrienne,
    I just found a new company of essential oils here close to where I live, Maple, Ontario. They claim their oils are pure and organic but I don’t know for sure. It surely would be good as they are so close to me. I am with YL, but I also buy from Native Americans after reading your blog more than one year ago. This company is called Botanic Planet Canada Inc, do you know it? Could you do a review on them? Thank you so much.

    • Never heard of them. Sorry. I did call and they will not give a GC/MS test unless I order the oils first. I wanted to see what kind of certification they have. RMO will give it to you before ordering and I believe they are working on having it on the site.

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