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.

UPDATE – Before reading this post, please note that I am no longer using Young Living Oils.  I moved on for various reasons. You can read more starting with this post, or skip ahead to the final post here. You can see my DIY Antibacterial Essential Oils Blend here.

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.

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. Are essential oils a scam?

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.

Again, please note that I am no longer using Young Living Oils.  I moved on for various reasons. You can read more starting with this post, or skip ahead to the final post here. You can see my DIY Antibacterial Essential Oils Blend here.

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

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. Do you or did you think essential oils are a scam?

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.

These comments do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Whole New Mom.


    Speak Your Mind


  1. Check out Ananda Apothecary As well. Great oils and education!!! They have been favorite.

  2. I’m sorry, none of this is convincing – though I hardly expected to receive an impartial review from someone who writes for a blog that has “Whole New” in the title (gag). And just because your friend didn’t sell YL doesn’t mean she was impartial. People are often dishonest (not just with others, but with themselves) about how effective an alternative treatment they’ve chosen is – because when you choose an alternative treatment, you get push back. I’m no even against alternative medicine (in fact, I use essential oils occasionally – though I no longer use YL, because their company is incredibly shady, their certification is self-made, their products only work as advertised for those who are incredibly susceptible to placebo effect, and its founder has downright lied time and time again about his credentials). But you get the side-eye from family and friends for using things like essential oils… and the “I told you so” stakes are very high. If your “treatment” turns out to have really been nothing but woo, then you lose face in front of your entire family. Money isn’t the only motivator to lie and exaggerate – even to ourselves.

    I’ve been in churches full of people who swear that this or that alternative treatment (including essential oils) have made their lives so much better… and every time, I’m struck by the fact that “Hmm… they really do’t seem like they’re over their cold. At all. They don’t seem any better than before they discovered this magical panacea. They don’t seem to be as healthy as they think they are.” In fact, in several cases, the person seemed, well, visibly MORE sickly. Visibly WORSE. I haven’t seen essential oils in particular make anyone worse for the wear, but I’ve never seen their claims to optimum health actually match up with what I was seeing before me.

    All that to say: I’ve used thieves, purchased directly from an authorized vendor. And I’ve used other brands’ version of Thieves. Many times, for both bad and mild viruses. It has done absolutely nothing besides provided some comfort (who doesn’t like oil being rubbed on their feet when they’re sick?). What you experienced (if you’re truly being honest with yourself about what you experienced) was a coincidence. Thieves can be helpful for killing some germs on a doorknob. Drinking hot water with a drop of it in it can temporarily (like, for ten minutes) give you some marginal sinus relief – and that probably has more to do with the hot water. Thieves isn’t going to knock out the virus in your body at all. If you are a TRUE sceptic, don’t fall for the YL scam any more than you would fall for any Big Pharma scam.

    • Hi Jordan. Sorry that my blog’s name makes you gag.

      I am sorry also, but I disagree about my friend who wasn’t selling YL. She would very likely be more impartial than someone who stands to make a profit. Not necessarily but likely.

      Yes, you are right about getting odd looks from many for using alternative treatments.

      I am being honest about my experience w/ the Thieves oil, but I don’t use YL anymore. I was healed. I was very sick, in fact I still have copies of the emails to my practitioner about how sick I was. It wasn’t temporary marginal sinus relief. I couldn’t breathe and was having issues sleeping as a result and then my nose opened up for good.

      There are scientific studies about the effectiveness of oils against certain pathogens so they do work. There is a lot of oversell going on but they do work.

      Perhaps you didn’t notice that I am not w/ YL anymore? Does that change your opinion of my post?

    • Jordan,

      Don’t know if you’ll see this or not, but you owe yourself a deeper look.

      There is abundant science that supports the benefits of EOs.

      I hope you can keep an open mind as you continue to seek information.

    • Just read you comments about therapeutic oils and simply come to the conclusion that you appear to be a negative individual that does initial research to support your negativity. My best advice is to continue your present path and manner of thinking.

      I’m an RN and have no claim to fame other than having a 104.2 oral temperature go down to 100.2 inside of 22 minutes. How? My wife touched my forehead with Peppermint oil and diffused the same oil in our bedroom. Scam? You tell me, Jordan.

      Oh, and I have been off of one of my blood pressure medications for 1.5 years simply by applying Aroma Life, Peace and Calming and (occasionally) Stress Away daily. Scam? You tell me, Jordan.

      Either you are a pharmacy rep (as once was) or just truly a superficial, negative person. God loves you anyway, Jordan.

  3. I use Young Living Essential Oils and live them!!!

  4. I’m a newbie (and a skeptic) when it comes to essential oils. I don’t sell them and NEVER will. (And I never buy from MLM companies) I read Facebook posts by an expert (Robert Tisserand) and he does not recommend ingesting oils because of the risk of internal damage and developing a sensitivity to the oil. He also recommends diluting oils with a carrier oil so you only have 10% of the essential oil in the blend (for example, one drop of essential oil to every 10 drops of carrier oil). This is not only safer, but it will save you money because you’re not over-using or wasting it. Very rarely is there ever a good reason to use the oils ‘neat’.

  5. First of all, essential oils require longevity. They are not usually a one time application. Yes, sometimes they can be applied and work quickly, but typically they require consistent use, and slowly improve the problem. People have been using oils for thousands of years, as these oils have been around longer than any type of Big Pharma medication.

    The thing that makes oils amazing really isn’t their Healing properties, it’s their amazing (zero side effects zero negative impact on other organs) no side effect risk factor. Healing Is sometime slow, but it’s the healthy way to heal. Each specific oil as a certain healing property ( some have multiple uses), but they work by increasing the elements in your body that need to be increased, or decreasing what needs to be decreased. No other medication has this “how u need it when you need it” factor.

    As for young living specifically, I agree, but there are many other good solid 100% pure brands. I recommend Doterra.

  6. catrena buck says:

    I had heard about young living oils from my cousin who started using it herself several years ago. She tried and tried to get me to use them due to my illnesses. I have crohns and many other issues. Not until I went to her place 2 yrs ago did I see for myself they really work. I get these sores on my face from having crohns disease and she had me use some oils on it what would generally take 3 months to get rid of and the scares it leaves I awoke the next day and they were almost gone. I couldn’t believe it! Within few day’s they were completely gone and did not leave a scare. So you bet I bought the kit. I used them for my migraines and no hospital trip did I have to make. I was really thinking it wouldn’t help my crohns though so I didn’t buy the oils for it. Until I almost died this past spring from complications with a surgery for my crohns disease. I spent 2 months in and out of ICU and had 3 emergency surgeries. I came home with ileostomy bag and went into major depression. My husband and mom told me (neither of them believed in the oils at the time) But they said order the one’s you need and try. Doctor’s were telling me they couldn’t help me with my crohns anymore. I had a ileostomy reversal and was able to go out of state and visit family. I got the one’s for my crohns as well as ninxgi red and I have started using them daily. Let me tell you, I am feeling so much better and I have got to stop some of the pharmaceutical meds and just use my oils. I feel like my mind has awakened from a coma. I didn’t realize how bad I was feeling. I’m still on this journey and I know I will get the report from doctor’s saying I no longer have crohns one day. So far I’m not having issues with crohns flares. I truly believe in these oils. I don’t sell them and other than my first order I haven’t bought any through myself being a member, I have been buying them from my cousin. I am going to start getting them myself though, it’s just been easier for me who isnt real good with computer’s to get them from her since she has them on hand. I tell many friends all about them, I’m so excited for how they are changing my life and how well I feel! I want other’s going through any issue’s to be able to use these products (many are biblical) to get the help they deserve. I have had many hospital stays, surgeries etc. Over the past 20years and to be where I am right now is amazing. I can’t wait to be able to give a testimony on how I’m crohns free (which doctor’s have no cure for) one day. If you could have seen me a yr ago even 3 month’s ago, you would be shocked to see the difference today. My Neurologist hasn’t put me back on my migraine meds since the oils work for it. My grandma who is almost 86 was told in Nov. She had stage 4 lymphoma and we started her on oils as soon as we found out, she also did chemo but docs were in shock a few months ago because it was almost gone. I know it was not chemo but it was the oils and God who her. She is also diabetic and the ningxi red and oils have leveled it out and for first time since she’s been diagnosed with diabetes she has awesome blood sugar counts. Thank you for posting and sharing. I thought I would let you hear how it’s changed our lives. This is a product that sells itself..

    • what oils are you using for Crohn’s. I have UC and would like to know more about options. Thanks

    • Phyllis Byers says:

      I use YL. They mainly have helped me sleep and keep my children from getting sick or staying as sick as long. My son uses Peppermint and Thieves to help with smelly shoes and feet. My upline was extremely skeptical and it was a while before she started using the oils. She has MS, but no longer has lesions on her spine. She rarely gets sick anymore, and she is a Kindergarten teacher. Her students got sick 70% less than the other Kindergarten classes at her school. The school nurse went and asked her how that happened. The nurse now diffuses Thieves in her office everyday and the other Kindergarten teachers now do it also. Clary Sage has helped my daughter with her cramps. I believe. Although I sell YL, I don’t ever put down another company. As long as the oils are pure and are helpful to you, then use the company that is best for your body. Just be sure to use them!

  7. Ivan Venner says:

    I am currently at an essential oils meeting/ Bible Study. I am a devote Christian and find the pretence with which some are launching these products as the answer to our problems here on earth borderline on false teaching. Using the Holy Scripture to persuade listeners to buy a certain product because it has healing affects, pretty much goes against everything Jesus teaches us. The Blood of Jesus Christ is all I need, and the last I heard it was a free gift.

    • Hi Ivan. I’m not sure what you are referring to. Maybe you can clarify? I don’t have a problem with using things other than God for healing – is that what you are referring to? Many things have healing effects and I don’t think that is contradictory to the Scriptures. Let me know what you mean, please.

      • I think I know what he’s talking about. He said it was a bible study but also an essential oils meeting. Sometimes people use the Bible to give their diet or product a little more authority than it would have otherwise. Two examples off of the top of my head are the Daniel diet and the Ezekiel diet. Daniel and Ezekiel weren’t trying to promote those diets, they had an entirely different purpose and focus. Just so when you try to promote essential oils using a Bible study, it can seem kind of fishy (especially if you are selling them, but even if not).

        • I agree with you. There is merit in looking at dietary issues in the Bible, but you have to look at the context and not read more into it than what is there. Thanks!

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