Which Essential Oils Company is Best? ~ Part 6–Personal Attacks, Bias, and Distillation

The information provided in this post is for information purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice.
It is not a substitute for your doctor's care plan or advice.

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Before I move on to the controversial issues in this post, here are the links to the other posts in this series.

Which Essential Oils Company is Best? – Part 1
Best Essential Oils -What a Good Oils Company Should Have – Part 2
Which Essential Oils Company is Best – Troubles with the Oils Industry – Part 3
– Young Living vs. doTERRA – Part 4
Are Multi-Level Marketing Oils Worth It? – Part 5
Announcing “the Best” Essential Oils Company – Part 7 **

**Attention** – Some readers say that they can’t access the Part 7.  If that is a problem for you, could I ask you to comment or email me at wholenewmom{at} gmail {dot} com, and you can go to this post to get access to the company that I chose.  Is Essential Oils Testing Reliable?

Now, back to the controversy.

I am typically not a fan of sensationalist titles for posts, but in this case, I kind of couldn't resist.

First of all, I need to apologize that I am going to have to push out the “announcement” day of the Best Essential Oils Series–just one more day.

Why?  Let me explain.

I really didn't want to do this, but I felt that with all the controversy going on regarding my review process that I should take time to address more issues that have come up during this series.  I want you to know that I am doing my homework and that I take what I am doing very seriously.

If you've been following along with the whole Best Essential Oils series, and have read the comments, you've seen that there have been a number of statements made, mostly by Dr. Robert Pappas.  What you may not know is that he has been commenting about my posts, and my blog, on his Facebook page, and has private messaged me on Facebook a number of times.

I've had a load of stuff on my plate these past few weeks (meh–still do), so it has taken me awhile to do enough research into some of his more scientific statements so that I could respond intelligently.

Today I am going to do so.  Because of the subject matter, this is going to be a much more lengthy post than usual, but I really thought it all needed to be addressed.

 1.  Source of Information

Pappas has insinuated, or directly asserted, that some of my statements with which he disagrees originated with Young Living (YL).  That is completely not true.  Here is one of his quotes from the comments on Part 4 of the Best Essential Oils Series:

Hi, just wanted to clear up some things concerning your comments about 1st, 2nd, 3rd distillations because this is an area of misinformation that, as far as I can tell, originates from the YL reps going back quite a number of years and just never seems to die down.

This is just one of many claims that I am repeating information from YL.

Yes, I was a Young Living rep, but interestingly enough, the information that I got about these distillations of peppermint came from doTERRA's support.  You can see this in the next section about distillation.

2.  Distillation of oils -1st, 2nd, 3rd and Complete

At the center of a lot of the controversy regarding my oils series is the distillation methods of oils, particularly peppermint.

I stated in Part 4 that doTERRA's peppermint oil was a “complete distill.”  Here is Pappas response from the comments:

“Who was it that told you their oil was “complete”? The word “complete” is not even a word that anyone in the essential oil industry would even use to describe a peppermint oil. Complete is used to describe a grade of Ylang Ylang oil and thats [sic] about it. Generally the best therapeutic oils also smell the best, at least thats [sic] been my experience.”

Here is an excerpt from the email that I received from the assistant to Dr. Hill, Chief Medical Advisor for doTERRA.  Please note that she both uses the word “complete” and also discusses the 3 distillation stages to describe doTERRA's peppermint.

Please apologize to her [Adrienne], I'm not sure why she didn't receive the
response.  You can let her know that our Peppermint uses complete
distillation.  There is 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and complete and we use complete.

I hope this is helpful!


Haylee Caplin
doTERRA Product Support

Pappas also commented:

Anyway, regarding peppermint (and essential oils in general for that matter), there typically is no such concept as a 1st, 2nd or 3rd distillation.

and then later in a comment that I hadn't approved until now (because I wanted to do more research before putting the information out there):

As for your question about the “1st distillation” I am guessing you might not have read my post completely about this or perhaps you just don’t believe me but this term is NEVER used in the industry and I would strongly recommend that you not use it either because its [sic] a misleading term. There is typically only ONE steam distillation of an oil to remove the oil from its plant material. When people say 1st distillation or 2nd distillation it conjures up images of redistilling the already spent botanical to get a less inferior oil. Nobody does this.

Well, this is a lot of info to digest, but here goes.

First of all, there are a host of references to these 1st, 2nd, and 3rd distillations that I found.

References to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Distillations from Oils Companies

These are references to this kind of distillation that I easily found doing an internet search:

1.  “Even an oil which is quite truthfully described as pure may be of poor quality, and therefore of less value  therapeutically.  IF AN ESSENTIAL OIL COSTS MUCH LESS THAN YOU WOULD NORMALLY EXPECT  TO PAY FOR IT, the oil may well be a third or fourth distillate from a batch of plant material which has already  yielded the greater part of its properties to the first or second distillation.” Aromatherapy An A-Z, by Patricia Davis, 1988, reprinted 1994, Saffron Walden, The C.W. Daniel Company Ltd., England, pp. 278-280.

2.  “LOW PRICES MAY ALSO MEAN THE OIL IS A SECOND OR THIRD DISTILLATION OF THE PLANT  MATERIAL, in which case it will have far less therapeutic value.” – from Holistic Aromatherapy, A. Berwick, 1994, Llewellyn Pub., St. Paul, MN pp. 168.

3.  Brambleberry.com sells different distillations of peppermint oils.  From their site: Peppermint Essential Oil (1st distillation)This is an herbaceous, sweet smelling peppermint. It is less brisk smelling than the 2nd distillation and contains slightly less menthol

4.  From Mountain Rose Herbs' website: “All of the oils offered by Mountain Rose Herbs are derived from the first distillation–never the second, third or fourth!”

5.  From The Herbs Place:  “Oil comes from the first distillations of the raw plant material.” when referring to why their oils are therapeutic grade.

I spoke with several people in the EO field and this is what I heard (of course, given the scope of this post, this is a summary only).

1.  Most plants are distilled only once because they don't produce enough oil for multiple distillations.

2.  Peppermint is an interesting plant in that it yields more oil than most others.  As such, large farms and distilleries extract a bunch of oil from the peppermint plant

Smaller farms do a first distillation of peppermint that they sell to oils companies for the highest price.

The peppermint is then re-distilled at a higher pressure and higher temperature for a 2nd distill, and the resulting oil is sold for less money to soap companies, and the like, that want a lower cost oil, but still desire a slightly “herby” smell.

The plant is then re-distilled one more time at a yet higher temperature and pressure for a 3rd distill, which is sold to companies wanting the candy-cane smelling oil.

Pappas has a lot of knowledge about essential oils that I don't have, but there are a lot of people using these terms in the industry, including those at doTERRA.  So it's clearly a very complicated matter that people have different opinions (including professional opinions) about.

UPDATE 8/16:

As you can probably tell, this distillation issue is very complicated.

Since this series was published, I was given more information from other experts (a distiller and chemists) in the field stating the following about essential oils and the distillation process:

However it is possible to distill one charge of plant using different configurations. The [sic} distiller … could be, for example, performing an atmospheric pressure distillation of the plant for 10 minutes, then increasing the pressure for another period and so on. As long as there is still essential oil in the plant matter this is possible. The more volatile and nice smelling aromatics will be trapped within the first “phase” of an operation like this and subsequent processing will extract higher boiling point components; as the distillation progresses, the compounds will become less desirable, therefore cheaper.

Basically, it's a very confusing issue as to why some peppermint oils smell ultra sweet and others do not.  Perhaps something is being taken out of the oil after distilling. In the case of oils that are not pure, something may be added in.  There might be some peppermint oils that are referred to as this “first distillation” that are being sold as being therapeutically superior, but that would be a subjective decision and likely most aromatherapists would want all of the components of the oil, except in the case of ylang ylang (see the following information).

The basic thing to keep in mind through all of this is that you want to purchase your essential oils from a company that you trust to sell only quality, pure, unadulterated oils from indigenous locations.

3.  Ylang Ylang is an exception to this rule.  It is distilled first for a short time, yielding the most coveted “ylang ylang extra.”  The distiller is shut down, the oil collected, and then it is distilled further to produce “ylang ylang 1.”  (UPDATE: I just heard that most distillers don't shut down the distiller, but merely change out the containers to keep the oil grades separate and continue distilling.)  This continues to subsequently produce “ylang ylang 2” and “ylang ylang 3.”  Then, all 4 varieties of ylang ylang are combined to make “ylang ylang complete,” which is preferred by some, but is priced lower than “ylang ylang extra.”

 3.  Bias and Motivation

On his Facebook page, Pappas and his followers have talked about what my motives are:

Perhaps it will all be clear on Tuesday when she makes her great reveal….I can't help but question the motives here.

There were also numerous statements by Pappas that his company doesn't sell oils, but that he is merely an unbiased chemist who educates and tests oils for various companies.

He is the man who tests oils for doTERRA.  That means he is inherently biased.  doTERRA pays him to authenticate the quality of their oils so, I don't see how it could be that he doesn't have an interest in their oils being represented as being superior.

If doTERRA does well, Pappas does well.  At least on some level.

Again, as for my bias, it is for finding an oils company with the best qualities that I can find, at the best price.

Nothing more.  If the company that I recommend ends up having ethical or quality issues, then I won't recommend them anymore.  Plain and simple.

There are loads of money-making opportunities that I have passed up because I can't, in good conscience, take them.  I have blocked the URL's of companies whose ads I disapprove of, all which have led to less income for me.

One other point that I am a little confused about: Pappas has said over and over again that he is very concerned that I am putting out wrong information about the oils.  I am a lover of information as well, so I appreciate that.

However, in one of his comments to me, regarding my questioning why Emily Wright and David Hill are spreading apparently incorrect information about their peppermint oil, his reply was:

What they say in their marketing is not something I concern myself with with, just as its not my concern what any other company who sends me samples for analysis does with their marketing descriptions.

I don't understand why Pappas thinks it's crucial to correct apparent misinformation that comes from me, but not misinformation that comes from what is likely his main employment source, and one of the biggest sources of EO information in the U.S.

4.  Vomit and Peppermint Oil

Sorry for the sensationalist title here.

In the comments section of Part 4 of the series, Pappas states:

The thing about peppermint oil is that when its [sic] freshly distilled it contains very tiny amounts of some sulfurous components as well as some small aldehydes (namely isomers of isovaleraldehyde, also found in vomit) that, while minuscule in percentage, are such powerful components that you can smell them at ppm levels. The effects of these components can be minimized with age and evaporation because they are very volatile, but another way to get rid of these undesirables is to take the crude freshly distilled oil and then use a different distillation setup to fractionally vacuum distill away this tiny amount oil, thus giving the remaining oil a much better flavor, sweeter aroma…

Well, again, I am not an expert here, but I looked up isovaleraldehyde and vomit and there were no mentions of isovaleraldehyde being in vomit.  The only connections between the two seem to be that exposure to isovaleraldehydes can lead to vomiting.  I would need to see sources for this information because I couldn't find any.  In fact the main (almost all) results of my search were only Pappas stating this on my blog and on various Facebook pages.

Additionally, even if isomers of isovaleraldehyde are in vomit, that does not make them problematic.  For example, water and stomach acid are in vomit and so is food.  I drink water and eat food daily and I even take stomach acid to aid digestion and it basically served as a cure for rosacea for me.

I can understand some people finding the “herby” smell of 1st distill (or non re-distilled) peppermint to not be as pleasing as the “candy cane” smelling peppermint (like doTERRA's).  However, that does not mean that it induces nausea.  In fact, peppermint oils that have not been redistilled, or adulterated / changed by vacuuming are regularly used for nausea and digestive upset.  See my post on Peppermint and nausea.

5.  Moderating of Comments – Am I Just Censoring?

Pappas and his followers have commented numerous times that I am not approving his and other related comments.

Here is one quote from his Facebook page (which contains numerous postings which insult me):

In case anyone has been following the discussion over at The Whole New Mom blog there was a post from Adrienne directed to me that never did get answered. I actually did answer her questions but for some reason my answer was never approved to be public. Since there where people here waiting for my response I am posting it here how it should have read, in case anyone was wondering what my answer was.

and this:

Wonder why she is too afraid to let me post unmoderated and she let you right on through. This is just too weird. It feels like I am dealing with YOU KNOW WHO LOL

The “YOU KNOW WHO” that Pappas is referring to seems to be a large essential oil Direct Sales Company, or at least that's the best I can ascertain, based on his previous comments.

and this:

Thanks Syl [meaning Sylla Shephard Hangar, mentioned below] great to see you back into things as well. She had posted here, unmoderated I might add LOL

First of all, comments on Facebook, to my knowledge, can't be moderated once they are posted.  They can only be deleted (or edited) by the admin of a page or edited or deleted by the person who posted them.  So Facebook comments and blog comments are completely different things.

On my blog, I do have all comments moderated.  I do that so that I can keep malware, blatant self-promoting, and foul language, etc. off of my blog.

When there are particularly intense comments, I take awhile to respond and yes, sometimes comments fall through the cracks.  But I am not moderating them in order to censor people.  To the contrary, I think that I approve many more negative comments than most bloggers.  I enjoy the back and forth of ideas and think it's healthy to debate.  Many bloggers consider negative comments to be from trolls and so they delete and and all – but I don't do that.

But I do not think verbal abuse and rude behavior is OK.

Many bloggers moderate comments and I have only once, in 2 years of blogging, had someone email me to ask why I hadn't approved their comment.  In this case, Pappas private messaged me on Facebook several times, asking me why I wasn't approving his.  (I have heard that now you need to pay to private message non-friends on Facebook, but I haven't verified this yet.)

However, one thing that really concerns me is his (and his followers') accusations on his Facebook page  that I am not willing to get the truth out or that I have something to hide.  To the contrary, that is why I held comments in moderation–because I wanted time to get to the bottom of things as best as I could before posting their information.

Some examples of what has been said about me:

By Pappas:

Wow, I guess this is what happens when people start fearing having other people around who know more than they do. Instead of wanting to learn more themselves they turn to protection mode so they can be the star of the show. Sad really. I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt, even defended her a couple of times. It is upsetting though when she directed questions specifically at me and I attempted to answer but she won't let me respond so people think I just chose to ignore her. Oh well, I have enough to keep me busy anyway. Thanks for trying.

I am not someone who fears having others with whom I disagree around.  I thrive on learning and have been interviewing many companies in preparation for this series.

And I will do so again in a future series on Heavy Metal Toxicity.

Here is another comment by Ann McIntire Wooledge:

She has really started a stir and I guess that's what she planned on, but she is ultimately making herself look rather uninformed and UNeducated. The best thing she could do now is to just admit she doesn't even know what a chemical constituent is and much less how to decide where would be the best company to buy essential oils – and stop this stupidity.

and more (this by Pappas):

That blog site is the most confusing I have seen in a while. I cannot even see a link to Part 5, how the heck did you find it?

and yet another (by Sylla Sheppard-Hanger):

scrolled thru the nonsense of her facebook page to find

one more by “Cher Aromapothecare”

Excellent reply Dr. P. (The girl could use a class). I agree, CO2 (or perhaps florasols) would be maybe a little closer representation of a plant but even that's a stretch.

more (this by Pappas):

What really ticks me off about is that she makes some honest mistakes concerning essential oils in general that alot [sic] of people make, then I go on there and write an in depth post to clear some things up and she doesn't let it through. I don't know maybe I am taking this too personal. I really don't care who she concludes is the best oil company I only wanted to clear up misconceptions and general points. It reminds me of when I posted on some YL rep sites to get them good info only to be banned because the facts were not jiving with the programming from their messiah [sic].

and finally (again by Sylla Sheppard-Hanger)

 all we can do is expose her and better yet the statements….its given me plenty of fodder for my new blog series!!!

Enough,eh?  I frankly am really disgusted by this behavior.

I am really disappointed at the behavior and negative comments thrown my way throughout this and hope that they will stop.

6.  About Me

Just to set the record straight, I don't typically post my “credentials,” but in this case I think they are warranted.
I don't have an advanced degree, but the learning I have done since my undergraduate degree has been extensive.

Here is my background:

1.  Top of my class in high school from a top level school.
2.  Phi Beta Kappa from The University of Virginia, one of the top 15 schools in the country.
3.  Echols Scholar at The University of Virginia.  Admission to the Echols Scholar program is made based on “In brief, the Office of Admission looks for academic excellence, intellectual leadership, and evidence of the ability to grapple with complex topics.” (Source).  Apparently this group is representative of the top 2% of the University.  Graduated with a 3.97 GPA.
4.  Taught Equity Options Valuation at the Chicago Board of Trade to options traders and MBAs
5.  Worked as a Manager in Employee Benefits
6.  Independent Life, Health, and Disability Agent for 7+ years
7.  Taught in Japan for one year and achieved near conversational fluency.
8.  Research-minded mom of a child with life-threatening food allergies.
9.  If I might jokingly add this, one of my local friends has called me the “investigative reporter” of health food and products.  ;-).

Basically, what I am saying here is…I am not a genius, but I am not an intellectual slouch either.  I don't mean this to discredit anyone else, but I am a deep thinker and am very concerned about excellence in research and learning and in conveying accurate information to you.

One final point.  A few folks on Pappas' Facebook page have commented that I have removed links to Pappas' Facebook page and website.  At first, I left all links left by Pappas and his followers, but I ended up going back through and deleting them because they were:

1.  excessive and
2.  resulted in basically blatant self-promoting.

Pappas doesn't allow advertising for oils companies on his page and I am choosing not to permit promotion of sites that deride my character in this manner.  At the beginning of this matter, Pappas seemed to be congenial, but as you can see from the comments above, that has changed.

If Pappas' and his followers' behavior changes and I receive an apology that is not followed by more maligning, then I will consider allowing the links.

7.  Troubling Questions

One thing that surprised me is that I think that the concerns I posted about Young Living were more controversial, and yet, to my knowledge, I haven't received any negative comments from any YL reps.  When I signed up with doTERRA I heard from a lot of reps how negative and accusatory they felt the YL reps were.
Not in my experience.

Just to make it clear:

I am not saying that Robert Pappas doesn't have significant qualifications.  He has extensive studies in the chemistry of oils and I don't.  Clearly there must be a reason or reasons for the differing facts here, or at least there is a different way of looking at the industry.

– Is it because he is mainly a chemist and the former owner of The Perfumery?
– Is it because he worked for / was closely connected with doTERRA?
– Why does he concern himself so much about what “little old me” says when the owners of doTERRA contradict each other–and him–while speaking around the world, via meetings, videos and more, to audiences much bigger than mine?
– Why has he spilled so much electronic ink to challenge and insult me when none of the other oils companies that have been critiqued in my posts have expressed any concern?

I don't know.  I am just trying to share what I am learning so that you can make a better decision about what essential oils you want to use for your family.

To see the other Best Essential Oils Posts:

Which Essential Oils Company is Best? – Part 1
Best Essential Oils -What a Good Oils Company Should Have – Part 2
Which Essential Oils Company is Best – Troubles with the Oils Industry – Part 3
– Young Living vs. doTERRA – Part 4
Are Multi-Level Marketing Oils Worth It? – Part 5
Announcing “the Best” Essential Oils Company – Part 7 **

**ATTENTION!!!** – Some readers say that they can't access the Part 7.  If that is a problem for you, please try refreshing the page once or twice. If that doesn't work, please comment or email me at wholenewmom{at} gmail {dot} com, and you can go to this post to get access to the company that I chose.  Is Essential Oils Testing Reliable?  I apologize and we are working hard to rectify the situation.**

I'm sure your head is spinning just like mine was.  I really only wanted to find the company that would provide high quality oils for my family at a decent price, without a bunch of headaches and extra costs attached to it. But I ended up with quite a headache here.
One thing that really interests me is making my own essential oils blends.
This book has loads of essential oils blends in it as well as information about sourcing your own medicinal herbs.  Fascinating!
Following is an affiliate link so if you purchase after clicking on it I might make a commission. Your support of my blog is much appreciated and helps keep this free resource up and running. 
The Essential Oils Book
 Thanks for hanging in there with me.  
I'd love to hear your thoughts (but I reserve the right to moderate comments :-)).
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.

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


    Speak Your Mind


  1. Robert Armas says:

    Hi Adrienne,
    Thank you for your in-depth research and comprehensive reporting on essential oils. Your blog postings on this topic are the first resource I’ve found that answer so many nagging questions.

    Regarding the politics, in my opinion you navigate the stormy seas with grace and humanity. I admire your integrity and the degree of emotional investment you’re committing to this work.

    I look forward to reading more.