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

Young Living Essential Oils

**UPDATE – 2013.  Before you continue with this post, please note I no longer recommend Young Living Oils. Come Read Which Essential Oils Company is Best? to see what company I recommend now.**

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.

Specifically Young Living Essential Oils.

I’ve heard about these oils a number of times over the years.

People would tell me how great Young Living’s oils were and I’d think, “Yeah, right.

You’re just trying to get me into another one of those network marketing things.” Well, it seemed that over and over someone would be telling me about Young Living essential oils. Especially the Thieves blend.  It’s supposed to be antiviral, antibacterial – “Yeah, right.” this skeptic thought.

Anyway, about 10 months ago, I got sick.

Really sick.

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

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 the dreaded antibiotic. One natural-minded friend suggested I get some Thieves oil.

“I always use that when I feel something coming on.  It’s great!”, she said. “So, do you sell Young Living too?”  I asked. “No.”

I went on a hunt to get some since finally, a person who didn’t stand to gain from my purchase was recommending it.

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

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. I ended up signing up with Young Living pretty soon after that.

**NOTE:   Since the original posting, I’ve been sorting through a bunch of essential oils companies to see Which Company has the Best Oils. I am no longer a Young Living rep., nor do I recommend them. Read the whole series to find out why.

Since then, the Thieves oil has cured a bunch of ailments for both myself and others whom I’ve shared it 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.  I stuck a little (straight – 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 on Lips

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 Thieves 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 the Thieves 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 Thieves orally, 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 the Thieves orally, along with an herbal supplement and said that the next day her son woke up and he was his old self again.

The Thieves Story

Thieves oil was 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. This particular blend by YL has apparently been university tested and shown to be effective against airborne bacteria, however…..

(UPDATE – April 2013):  I ended up looking into this claim more.  It appears to me that the testing was just on Eucalyptus and I never received a response back from Young Living about this.)  Anyway, I’m now a skeptic turned believer.

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? Well, my cost for a 250 drop bottle of Thieves is $31.75 (well, less if I get freebies and discounts offered to distributors that month.

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? Oh – and by the way, I know that there is some “bad press” about Young Living on the web.

I’ve checked that out too and still am working on it to see what I think.

NEW INFORMATION:   After I had been using essential oils for awhile, I ended up evaluating a BUNCH of oils companies as a whole lot more information surfaced.  Come and find out which company is “best.” You can jump ahead to the final post here.  I ended up not being so thrilled with the freebies and discounts that I mentioned above.  Read more in this post – Young Living and doTERRA Review).

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.

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  1. rad {expletive deleted by blog owner} says:

    You are uneducated about oils. Young Living didn’t make you happy etc etc so you are out to get them. Well, guess what? They’re bigger than you’ll ever be

    • I don’t understand the logic of your comment. It is only full of insults. Typically when someone doesn’t have an argument to make they just hurl insults. Do you have something you would like to discuss? Thanks.

  2. I am not really sure what the purpose of your article is?? You seem to think that Thieves is a great product but you continue to say that you don’t like Young Living and not sure why.. This does not come across as information that we should pay attention to. It sounds angry for a reason we cannot decifer. Clarify if you can. Thanks

  3. Hugh Betcha :) says:

    Your article is very confusing and reads like a bad infomercial. I love them, I hate them, I love them but not ‘them’, here’s why I loved them, here’s why I don’t love them anymore, etc etc. Wow, talk about a roller coaster of thoughts. Please tell me you don’t write for a living? The multitude of links (some of which sound repetitive) scattered throughout your page make your page read and appear to be just like a bad scam-page of the early internet days….complete with your closing of if you act now you’ll receive my free guide to essential oils. Wow, did you also write a page on how to buy real estate with no money down? Your page reads like it. As for me, I came here as a result of an internet search to begin exploring the validity of essential oils and my search will continue since my impressions of your findings are very unreliable and seem to have a hidden agenda behind them. But, if you act now, I’ll throw in for free the 10 things that I disliked most about your article.

    • Hi there. Well, another fake email and fake name attached to someone who chooses to be mean.

      I know the post is confusing. I wrote the post on Thieves a long time ago and a bunch of big things changed so I wanted to update people. I had done just a few updates and people seemed to still be confused b/c I would get emails from people wondering about the post.

      And what’s wrong w/ offering a free guide to essential oils? I’m going to be selling it soon so it’s a good offer in my book. If you really think there’s a hidden agenda–sorry, there isn’t. Just an honest mom trying to find the best for her family without spending through the nose.

  4. So… do u like theives or not… i just started rubbing it on the bottoms of my feet..per instructions elsewhere… only 4 days and i have a cold.. but no releif… im not one to stick with something tgat doesnt magically work i 5 mins..sad face… so i guess i would like to know how long people use an oil before they feel better or see difference…

    • I like it personally for some things. I ended up taking mine internally for a bad cold, but that is only something I do with caution and I can’t medically advise that. I can’t tell if it works for me on my feet – sorry. Perhaps someone else can say – for some things I use oils and I see changes right away – other times I need to do something else.

  5. Your article would be much more believable if it wasn’t so obvious your entire agenda is to sell the oils. You think that by saying “I was once a skeptic” it adds to your credibility – because, why would someone that also questioned essential oils be lying about them – but it doesn’t. You’re so blatant in your attempt to “sympathize” with your readers, with things like “whoa gas is so expensive!” bit.

    If you want to talk about logic – stop using insults as a way to refute someone’s argument. Just because they used a fake name and/or email does not mean what they say is automatically invalid. There is no purpose to saying that unless you’re trying to subtly discredit them.

    Your entire article is filled with sales tactics. You try and put yourself at the same level as your audience, pretend you were once skeptical, just like your audience, and after you gained their bit of trust, you then tell them how great of a deal your oils are. Anyone with rudimentary critical thinking skills can see right through you, and anyone with the most basic knowledge in medicine will know how full of (expletive deleted by blog owner) you are. But hell, you aren’t targeting those, right? You’re targeting the suckers who will believe you’re just like them, and you’re doing this because you’re so nice and just want to help others who are in the same situation as you, right?

    • My agenda is not to sell the oils – it was to share my experience with others and tell them where I decided to buy mine. Of course, I need to pay the bills that it costs to run the blog, and all that, and get paid a fair wage, but I did not set out to “sell oils”.

      I’m not sure what you mean by my blatant attempt to sympathize w/ my readers.

      I also don’t think that I used any insults at all- -could you please correct me if I am wrong? Of course using a fake name doesn’t make what someone says invalid – I was just pointing out that folks who are insulting me (and other bloggers) tend to hide when doing so instead of owning their comments.

      I can’t convince you, perhaps, but I heard about oils for a long long time before I tried them. I guess I could put you in touch w/ the YL rep whom I got the oils from and she could recount the hours we spent on the phone while I asked her all kinds of questions about the oils and about Gary Young. I wore her out, I am sure.

      Sorry you feel this way about me, but you are wrong. If you have any other responses I am happy to answer them.

  6. Karen D. says:

    The research abstract you referenced about eucalyptus is not about “airborne bacteria.” It was testing done on superficial/skin fungal infections. Viruses can be airborne, but not typically bacteria. Fungus is a different classification of microorganism than bacteria or virus. It would be helpful if you would clarify your claims about various types of microorganisms in regards to the oils and their tested (beyond anecdotally)effects.