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Clearing the Essential Oil Confusion

Can we clear up the Essential Oil battle of confusion?

There seems to be a lot of disagreement out there on which essential oil company makes the “best” oil. After much research and after having so many others ask my opinion, I have decided to finally try to put it into writing the best I can.

I get asked “what’s the best essential oils,” “where should I buy essential oils” and most often, “have you ever heard of this company?”

Using common sense I will explain in the clear, simple terms so that everyone can hopefully understand and make a rational decision for yourself and your family.

To keep it as simple as I can I will use the example of “THIEVES” essential oil by YL.


Thieves™ is an essential oil blend sold by Young Living. The formulation contains a combination of clove, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus and rosemary essential oils.

The concept behind Thieves oil is based on the legend of four 15th century French thieves. Although they spent their days robbing sick and dying people, they managed to escape contracting the plague and other such nasty diseases. Legend has it that they doused themselves with a special herbal concoction to protect themselves from infection – sometimes referred to as “four thieves’ vinegar”.

The name “Thieves” is actually a registered trademark of Young Living, but there are similar versions sold by other brands. In fact, “Thieves” has almost become something of a generic term to describe any type of antibacterial, immune-boosting blend of essential oils.

We don’t know whether or not this “thieves” story is true, but the essential oils used are truly antiseptic, antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-infectious. They will stimulate the immune system, circulation, and respiratory system, and help protect against the flu, colds, bronchitis, pneumonia, sore throats, cuts, and more.

“Research conducted at Weber State University, as well as other documented research, indicates that most viruses, fungi, and bacteria cannot live in the presence of many  essential oils (not just those found in Thieves), especially those high in phenols, carcacrol, thymol, and terpenes. This may help us understand why a notorious group of thieves, reputed to be spice traders and perfumers, was protected from the Black Plague as they robbed the bodies of the dead during the 15th century.” (Essential Oils Desk Reference, 4th Edition, p6)

THAT BEING SAID, The question arises;

If I purchase a blend with these oils from another company will they work?

Let’s use common sense for a moment. First we need some facts…..

1 drop of essential oil is equal to 36 cups of tea.

COMMON SENSE: How many cups of tea does a person really need to obtain benefits from it? Do you really need to drink 36 cups of peppermint tea to calm a queasy stomach? I don’t know about you but 1 cups works pretty well for me.

Others companies are not as strong as YL!  

REALLY??? Let’s suppose that is true for the sake of argument (and I mean suppose). Even if that is the case, again, how many cups of tea do you really need?

COMMON SENSE: If, by chance, another company’s oil is only 75% as strong (thats 27 cups of tea) and you pay 1/4th the price, it doesn’t take much to do the math that says “I am getting a great deal for a very good oil”. And you will definitely get benefits from that 27 cups of tea!


There is NO governing body in the essential oil world that oversees who’s essential oil is therapeutic and who’s is not. Anyone can state that their oil is therapeutic. Why?

COMMON SENSE: If 1 drop equals 36 cups of tea (or even 27 as stated above) that oil is now therapeutic or medicinal no matter what company you are.


Similar versions from non-MLM brands are significantly cheaper. Why does Eden’s Garden “Fighting Five” only cost $8.95, when Thieves costs five times more?

COMMON SENSE: Well, Young Living (as well as other MLM companies) will protest that their high prices are justified by their use of so-called “therapeutic grade” oils. In reality, this is simply a marketing term – every pure essential oil is therapeutic grade. The real truth is that MLM-branded oils have to be expensive, in order to cover various levels of sales commission. Essentially, you’re paying a premium for the middleman! I’m ok with people paying the high price for the oil they want and like but let’s be real about why these oils cost more. I’m also fine with people making a living (I have been there, done that too) from MLM companies, but let’s not hide the truth.

There are even web pages to teach you how to make your own essential oils as our ancestors did. They did not worry about weather or not the plant was organic, if their extraction was better than their neighbors and so forth because they knew the power of the herbs they used for healing. AND YES...HERBS HEAL TOO (that’s where essential oils come from).  You can cook with Rosemary or use Rosemary EO and get the same benefits….just stronger ones with EO (Yes, I’m sure you remember 36 cups of tea). 

MORE COMMON SENSE:  I highly doubt the THIEVES fought over the strength of the herbs they used (because it was not equal to 36 cups of tea and it still worked), where they were grown, if they were organic, exactly how much of each to use, so forth and so on……so why do we?

OVERALL: Essential Oils are Therapeutic and they DO WORK! Let’s spread the truth about affordable health and healing to others.

If you are going to use essential oils, you should know how to use them safely and keep a few things in mind:

What to Look For When Purchasing

1. Dark bottles

All essential oils will spoil when exposed light and air so they should be sold in dark glass containers. Store them away from light; and you can even store your citrus oils in the refrigerator to keep them fresh longer.

2. Buy based on the latin species name of the plant.

Eucalyptus, for example, has over 900 species, with about 20 being used in the essential oil realm.  E.globulus is your common Eucalyptus species but should not be used around anyone with Epilepsy.  E.radiata is good for long term use with chronic respiratory infection and works well on viral or bacterial infections.  E.smitthi is child safe where E.globulus is not. So the actual species is the type of essential oil you want to buy, don’t just go by the English name – you may not know what you’re buying. (Side Note: Some experts say Eucalyptus Globulus can cause choking or even death in infants and any Eucalyptus should not be used on a child under 2 years of age. E. globulus is a very strong Eucalyptus. Eucalyptus Smithii is the mildest of all and safe for children and the elderly. E. radiata is another good choice recommended by some well known aromatherapists.)

3. The plant part used in the distillation process should be indicated in the English name (“leaf,” “bark,” “flower,” “stem”) if appropriate.

There is a difference between Cinnamon Bark and Cinnamon Leaf essential oil so again, be aware of what you are buying and what each can do for you.

4. Essential oil companies need to have knowledge of the distillery they purchase from or rely on reputable suppliers who do.

No chemical additives or dilution with alcohol or other oils (except carrier oils with EO's such as rose) should take place, nor should the essential oils be decolorized.  A good Essential Oil company tests their oils regularly using gas chromatography or mass spectrography to ensure purity and quality. You should be able to obtain these test results from the company with a simple phone call.

I hope this was helpful in clearing up the confusion on essential oils.

Deborah N. Stauss, ND

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