Which Essential Oils Company is Best? Young Living and doTERRA – Part 4


Wondering Which Essential Oils Company is Best? What about the "Therapeutic Grade" claims the MLM oils companies make? Come find out all you ever wanted to know about oils companies and more!

Here we are again – moving toward finding the Best Essential Oils Company.

To clarify, what I’m after here is the Best Essential Oils Company for the money.

So you can work on natural healing without breaking the bank–and I think I’ve found a good one.

Just being realistic:

I’m one person looking into a bunch of companies–with some help.  So I’m leaving the door open to the possibility that I might be wrong.

I’ve had to admit I was wrong about things before.
–  My thinking that Lilla Rose Flexi Clips were a waste of money (see my “changed my mind Lilla Rose review” here).
– or saying my Natural Dishwasher Rinse Aid was a great idea.

We need to be willing to admit we were wrong.

Was I wrong about Young Living?  Remember my enthusiastic posts about their Thieves and Peppermint and Wintergreen?

Let’s find out.

Today I’m going to share what happened as I looked into the “heavy hitters” in the Essential Oils Industry–

(Oh, and if you are jumping in in the middle of all of this, here is a link to Part 3.

Young Living and doTERRA.

If you’ve been looking into essential oils at all, chances are you have come across YL and DT (as I’ll affectionately call them ;-)).

You’ve had folks tell you “Young Living is the best!” or “doTERRA is the most pure”.

Or something like that.

I touched on some of these issues in Best Essential Oils Post – Part 1.  But here’s more.

First up–Young Living

Young Living Review

1.  Reputation and Ethics –  There are some pretty not-so-savory things on the internet about D. Gary Young.  Of course, the internet can be full of truths and lies.  But I still think these things are worth paying attention to.  Dr. Stephen Barrett has written a load of unsavory things about D. Gary Young.  In fact, this information is a lot of what gave me pause when I initially was looking into signing up with YL.  I mean, the Thieves Oil worked great for me, but I really didn’t like what I was reading.

Now, I do have my concerns about Mr. Barrett–mainly that he’s basically an “anti-alternative therapy” hound.  And I like alternative therapies.  Most of them, at least ;-).

I personally am very concerned about abuses in the alternative medical field.  But I’m also concerned about abuses in Western medicine.

My family and I have been harmed by the practices of traditional Western medicine (overuse of anti-biotics, over-use of prescriptions meds, doctors misdiagnosing acid reflux, etc.).  In some cases, we’ve been healed despite what mainstream doctors told us to do.

I know there are abuses on both sides.  But Quackwatch appears to be just targeting everything alternative:  Chiropractic, acupuncture, Chinese medicine….You name it.  If it’s alternative, it’s Barrett’s target.

I could go on and on about his site, but suffice it to say that I am not sure of all of Barrett’s accusations against Gary Young. (UPDATE – All comments by Mr. Barrett against Gary Young appear to have been removed so I can’t cite them any longer.)

However, his writings about Young Living and Gary Young leave something to ponder.  Moreso in light of what else I found…

2. OSHA Violations – I found this interesting entry referring to Young Living OSHA violations.  I didn’t find any by the other oils companies, although I didn’t look all of the essential oils companies up, of course.  That would take a long long time and I couldn’t find them all for sure.

Now, Young Living is the oldest oils company, so they’ve had more time for there to be violations, and all of the violations appear to be of the same incident.

Of course, OSHA violations don’t mean that a company is bad.  If they cleaned up their procedures correctly, then possibly their new procedures are better than ever.

3.  Non-Indigenous Plants – Many of Young Living’s farms are located in the U.S.  I think that’s fine for a company being more “in control” of their product, but not great if you follow conventional wisdom that plants grow best (and have the best therapeutic qualities) when they are grown in their indigenous locations (where they are supposed to grow naturally).

If you read through the comments of Best Essential Oils Parts 2 & 3, you’ll see that Young Living reps tout the fact that YL farms are in the U.S. as being an advantage–that it gives Young Living control over the whole process.  Maybe, but other companies like doTERRA and most of the other companies I’ve looked into have their oils sourced from wherever the plants grow naturally for higher quality.

4.  What’s That Smell?

You know I like testing things before recommending them to you, like in my:

Best Cinnamon Sugar and
Best Eye Makeup Remover posts.

Then you won’t be surprised to know that we did this with essential oils as well.

I purchased YL, doTERRA, Mountain Rose Herbs, Aura Cacia, and 2 other companies’ oils and did a little “Smell Challenge” with my not-so-specially-trained Smell Testing Panel (a.k.a. my family).


We had a blind smell test of 3-5 brands of the same oil.

In each instance, Young Living was singled out as having a chemical overtone.

Does that mean there were chemicals added?

Not necessarily, but we still didn’t care for it.


doTERRA Review

I also bought a large kit of doTERRA’s oils to try them out against YL.  I asked doTERRA reps and corporate employees tons of questions, and I even used their oils exclusively for awhile.

I really like their educational resources and their oils smell great.

But their great smell is part of what concerns me.

One thing I really don’t care for is that a lot of doTERRA reps (and corporate employees as well) say something like, “You’ll know it works by its smell.”

This from doTERRA’s website: “A 100% pure therapeutic-grade essential oil should have a balanced, broad fragrance profile and should smell crystal clean.”  I don’t know about you, but I don’t know what “crystal clean” means.

Before I go into more–I mentioned distillation techniques in one of my previous posts.  Basically, the going wisdom about essential oils is that you put the plant parts and water in a distiller and under low pressure and low temperature, you distill the essential oils out of the plant.

They travel down a tube and into a vat–along with the steam.  The oil collects on top of the water and is removed and–voila–you have essential oils.

The most coveted, and most expensive (and thought to be the most therapeutic) oil is that which is collected during the first part of the distillation period.  The resulting oil is called “first distilled.”
This “first distillation” only applies to a few oils – ylang ylang and peppermint, according to what I have learned.


doTERRA’s peppermint smells good enough to eat–as in “candy cane” good.

But that might be a problem in my book.  Here’s why.

Most peppermint essential oils smell like the peppermint you find growing out in nature. Kind of herby and not really like a candy cane.

Candy-cane-smelling peppermint is apparently from the second distillation or a complete distill (distilling for a long time).  The oils are either distilled for a longer time, or redistilled and some oils are taken out to give the oil a clean pepperminty candy smell. (Source).

The other alternative is that something else is done to the peppermint oil to reduce the herby smell.

This is exactly what doTERRA’s peppermint oils smell like.  So yummy, in fact, that if you have kiddos in the house, you’d best keep it out of arm’s reach.

Here is the response I got from doTERRA stating that their peppermint oil is, in fact, a “complete distill”:

You can let her know that our Peppermint uses complete
distillation.  There is 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and complete and we use complete.  (Source:  my email.)

So if in fact, the first distillation of peppermint oil is the most valuable, then their peppermint oil isn’t top quality.



doTERRA prides itself on selling the top of the line quality.  Their ylang ylang, however, is also a complete distillation.  Some may say that this is a matter of taste, but in the essential oils industry, the first distill is more valued and therefore, a higher priced oil.  To their credit, doTERRA does call their ylang ylang a complete distill on their website.

Ylang Ylang first distill (which is referred to as “extra”) is typically considered to be the quality of oil that is most sought after / of highest therapeutic quality–not the complete distillation.


Thanks to Kitchen Stewardship, I realized that doTERRA doesn’t disclose all of the oils in this bug repellant blend.  I will say that we have used this to treat after bite itching (and my son likes it), but I think that not including ingredients on a label is not preferable. (UPDATE – doTERRA now discloses the ingredients of their Terra Shield blend. I’m glad they are doing that.)

What I think is troubling here is that doTERRA makes a lot of claims about their oils being the best–top quality.  And their prices sure reflect that.  I don’t think I would purchase complete, 2nd or 3rd distillation oil for more than other companies are selling 1st distill for–would you?

Of course, there are other things to think about–purity, etc.  So we’ll keep the conversation going and touch on other companies as well.

I hope this all makes sense.  If not—ask away.

Thanks for your patience!  This has been a long road, but I promise, we are nearing the end.

The Rest of the Best Essential Oils Series:

Which Essential Oils Company is Best? – Part 1
 – What a Good Essential Oils Company Should Have – Part 2
Which Essential Oils Company is Best – Troubles with the Oils Industry – Part 3
Are Multi-Level Marketing Oils Worth It? – Part 5
Distillation, Bias, Vomit and Personal Attacks – Part 6
- Announcing “the Best” Essential Oils Company – Part 7 

**Finally, you can get my Report on Essential Oils, 10 Things You NEED to Know BEFORE You Buy for FREE by visiting here and signing up for my newsletter.**

Helpful Books from Young Living and doTERRA

Regardless of what you think about either of these companies, each of them have put out quite helpful books on essential oils and their usage.

As always, I can’t endorse everything in either of these books and if you read the reviews of each of them you will see that there are some who think that a good bit of the contents are not helpful.  And of course, each book is geared towards those who purchase their oils so there are numerous references to their exclusive blends.

But if you put that aside, you can get some helpful information from both.

(Please note that the links to these books are affiliate links. If you click on them and make a purchase I might make a commission. Your support is greatly appreciated and helps keep this free resource up and running.)

Modern Essentials – doTERRA Essential Oils Book

Modern Essentials - Essential Oils Book by doTERRA

Essential Oils Desk Reference – Young Living

Essential Oils Desk Reference Book - Young Living Essential Oils Book

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

The information here is for entertainment purposes only. Please consult a medical professional before changing your diet, exercise program, or before trying any natural remedies.


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    Speak Your Mind


  1. Well I was re-researching EO’s tonight and came across this! So very thankful for all your posts so far. I think I did well trying do Terra. I am curious to maybe test another one. Doterra works amazingly for my family right now. Thanks so much. Do you know if there are any organic oils?

    • If you mean doTerra’s oils and if they are organic? I don’t believe that they are certified as such. All of NAN’s oils are grown using organic practices and they monitor that. Some are certified and some are not. Here is a statement from one of their employees (this is for Native American Nutritionals and Rocky Mountain Oils, the companies that I went with at the end of the series:

      We work with about 50 farms and all of them use organic practices when growing the oils. Some of them are in very remote areas and so not all of them qualify for official organic certification because it is simply not available in many of these countries we work with like somalia, turkey, and so forth. But some of them are certified and we work with all of the farms to make sure they meet our standards for “organic”. THe good news is that when you look at farms like the one i sent you pictures of yesterday in Ghana, these people don’t even know what pesticides are. So for them, they are just growing the plants naturally without fertilizers and persticides because those are products that simply don’t exist to them. So our version of organic is very natural because these plants are as natural as they come because of the nature of the farms we work with. This is another reason we like working with our small farms. About 1/3 of the remaining products are wild crafted. Again that means it is grown in the wild, so it is pure and “organic” as well.

  2. So which company is the Best? do terra, young living, or Beyoung essential oils?

  3. Vivien Cooksley says:

    I would be interested in learning whether there is actually any concrete proof that the peppermint is a complete distillation. Thank you.

    • Do you mean the doTERRA peppermint?

      • Vivien Cooksley says:


        • I have an email from the company.

          • Vivien Cooksley says:

            But the view in that email seems to contradict the general view on the subject, that there is no such thing as a 1st Distillation of Peppermint anyway. This was stated repeatedly not only by Dr. Pappas but also by others. What does differ from company to company, is the procedure to further purify the oil after it has been distilled to improve the smell apparently – but I know of NO official studies proving that one OR the other is better from a therapeutic point of view.

            Wondering whether I am not inclined to believe a chemist over a personal assistant whose primary job is probably more “office work” than anything else? Do you definitively know of any company doing multiple distillations (fraction distills) of peppermint. If so – it would be really great to see that information – because according to numerous reports I have read, that is something that is not done with peppermint.

            • I completely understand your thinking. I am just telling you that the owner of Native American Nutritionals says that there are only a few truly therapeutic distillers of peppermint oil. He said this, ” These therapeutic distillers produce an oil that maximizes the overall therapeutic chemistry but they produce a standard food grade peppermint oil too. This unique distillation process allows them to obtain the highest quality therapeutic peppermint as well as maximize the amount of oil they can extract from the plant.”

              So I am sorry that Pappas disagrees with him, but that is the case.

              I got the email from an assistant but I had contacted the officer and I would think that the assistant is getting the information from the officer of the company so it of course isn’t the information coming from the assistant herself. Personal assistants convey information but typically do not come up with the information themselves.

              The owner of Native American Nutritionals also said that most oils are made for the fragrance and food industry and so they are very picky about what they are getting and where they are getting it from.

              I completely, again, understand your skepticism, but I do not think that assistants to the heads of companies speak for themselves. Do you feel any differently?

              • Vivien Cooksley says:

                First of all, thanks for responding… Actually, I do believe that not everyone in a company is an expert in all areas of said company. Even an “officer” of the company is not necessarily a chemist. I imagine, they are well informed as to the general quality and marketing of their products but distillation procedures, how these may differ from company to company and which may be considered “best” – seems to be quite a complicated subject. I would expect a chemist to be able to explain the procedure and subtle differences but not a secretary or a public relations officer. So basically, it would depend on who exactly got the email I guess.

                Regarding the comments of people from competing companies… Well basically, you are taking his word for it right? You were told they have a “unique distillation process” but you have no idea what that is supposed to be or how it is supposed to differ from that of other companies? Anyone can say that! Unless we know how exactly the process differs and even IF the process differs – we know {expletive deleted by blog owner} basically… Except that each company naturally claims that of-course THEIR oil is better…

                And where is the proof? Has their oil been shown to be therapeutically superior in any scientific study. Was there ever a comparison to the products of other companies.

                No matter which company rep you ask they will tell you they are picky about where they get their oil from, they have the best quality bla bla bla… They all do that. Fact is: we know {expletive deleted by blog owner} about the actual production procedure. The only way to know what works best for you personally is to try both… and even then, you won’t know which is the best oil…you will only know which is the best for YOU personally. For someone else, it may well be different.

                To me personally, it is quite frustrating to see that there seems to be no internationally valid standard. People can call their oils whatever they like and make claims as to them being “therapeutic” – mostly this has not been specifically proven in studies because all companies refer to studies that actually did NOT USE THEIR OILS but may well have used oils produced, distilled and refined differently.

                Please don’t interpret this as being against any one company – I actually don’t know native american nutritionals so I can’t comment on the quality of their products. I am just saying, that without exact knowledge and proof of procedures used – there is no way to claim any one product is better than another. And I am guessing, that no real information will ever be made public because alot of these individual procedures seem to be proprietary information of each company – trade secrets that will hardly be shared with the competition.

                • Hi again. Yes, it depends on who got the email but since the email went to one of the founding executives, I would think that she is screening things for him. I followed up with another email and got this:

                  It deals with the chemistry of an oil. People choose different distillation methods depending on the compounds they are trying to isolate. If you stop the distillation at 1, the compounds will be different than doing a complete for example. We work with the world’s leading essential oil expert, Dr. Pappas, to ensure our essential oils contain the proper chemical constituents by careful distillation.

                  I hope this helps give some background.

                  Haylee Caplin
                  doTERRA Product Support

                  So it sounds to me that they are getting answers from someone in the company about how to respond to questions like this.

                  As for proof, yes, we all have to take someone’s word for things all the time. There’s almost nothing we can know for sure, unless and until we get to heaven and get to ask God.

                  If you are asking about Native American Nutritionals and if their oils have been tested against other companies, the answer is “yes” – they have. Many times.

                  Yes, so many companies say the same thing. It all comes down to digging more and trusting them. I felt that after all of the 10s or 100s of hours I spent on this that I was getting the best information from these companies so I went w/ them. I made it very clear to them that if I ever had a reason to doubt them I would rescind my recommendation and I will do that.

                  As far as working for you personally being the best guide, I disagree. Many things that are bad for us “work” but you could be putting icky stuff on your skin and so I’m not thrilled about that.

                  I hope that helps.

                  There are some testing you can do and more than that in order to get objective information, but like all sciences, interpreting the results are somewhat of an art and not just a science. This post might help you. http://wholenewmom.com/health-concerns/toxic-overload-health-concerns/essential-oils-testing-is-it-reliable/

                  Happy to answer more question / respond to more thoughts, but I would appreciate your not using expletives on my blog. Hope you don’t mind :).

                  • Vivien Cooksley says:

                    Hi Adrienne,

                    Again thanks for responding. I do have one more request/question. You mentioned in your last comment that Native American Nutritionals was tested against other companies oils… I wonder by whom? And what exactly was tested? Medicinal benefits/use? If you have any information or links to such scientific studies comparing these oils to others (like Doterra or Young Living) I would love to read them.

                    Many thanks in advance for this information.

                    On the last point: if something were “bad” for me it would seem illogical for it to make me feel more healthy, vibrant and full of energy. You would assume that something that is “bad” for you would make you kind of feel…well “bad”. Of-course that is assuming that you have a good inner radar to how things affect your body…

                    • Hi there. I would have to ask but I think they did GC/MS testing at a third party lab. There are no links that I know of.

                      I think that something can make one feel better for awhile and cause unseen / unknown damage. That is for sure the way with a lot of pharmaceuticals and natural treatments too. That’s what makes all of this confusing. Well, it’s one of the things.

                  • Vivien Cooksley says:

                    Would be great to have anything resembling proof concerning the testing that was allegedly made comparing the oils of different companies.

                    Quote: “If you are asking about Native American Nutritionals and if their oils have been tested against other companies, the answer is “yes” – they have. Many times.”

                    Where are the results of said testing? Which oils were tested?

                    • Hi Vivien. They test all of their oil by 3rd parties and they do multiple kind of testing and reject oils that aren’t up to par. They do test others just for internal information but they don’t publish this information. I ope that helps.

                    • Vivien Cooksley says:

                      Dear Adrienne,

                      Since they do not publish results, there is basically absolutely no proof on whether they test against other oils, if said tests are even valid and what said tests tell us about how NAN measures up against other companies.

                      The only way a test like this may be relevant would be if all involved companies co-funded the test, each involved oil had a representative present to ensure that their oil is not tampered with and the results were the published. Otherwise, it’s just one company making unsubstantiated claims.

                      Doterra also test their oils by a third party – one of the best known specialists worldwide in the essential oil industry… But even testing by a “third party” doesn’t mean much since the said “third party” gets their salary from the company wishing to have their oils tested? Don’t see why this would be any less true of NAN than it is of other companies who pay others to test their oils…

                      It’s obvious than NAN has you convinced – but from what I have read here so far they have presented no more proof of excellence than Doterra or other companies out there. You simply choose to believe them and distrust others.

                      There is NO scientific proof to my knowledge about peppermint that smells better being inferior therapeutically in any manner… And if I can have an oil that works therapeutically AND smells great – then I would consider that product to be superior. If you happen to have any evidence supporting the idea that peppermint that smells worse works better – then I would be very grateful to see it.

                      All the same – thanks for the very interesting blog. Thanks to you, I have been brushing up on my chemistry – which is a good thing.

                    • Who is the specialist you are referring to that doTERRA uses?

                      Thanks so much. I will get back to you shortly on the other things you mention. I have a bunch going on right now.

  4. Can you tell me the difference between all the certifications?
    Such as TPAT-(Biotone essential oils have this on the label), E-cert (which Aveda uses this label), therapeutic grade, ‘100% pure essential oil’, and CPFG (which DoTerra uses)
    Thanks in advance!