by Dr. David Stewart, PhD, RA, DNM
From time to time I am approached by representatives of other companies who sell essential oils alleging that their oils are just as high in quality as those of Young Living, but a lot less expensive. If they are also a multi-level marketing company, they usually portray themselves as having a more generous compensation plan than that of Young Living, promising that you can make more money with them than you can with Young Living.
Gary Young, A Man With a Mission
First of all, you can judge a company by its origins, its motivations, and its mission.
The roots of Young Living begin with a tragic accident on February 8, 1973, when Gary Young was nearly killed in a logging accident, crushed by a falling tree. Hospitalized and in a coma for three weeks, his family was told that if he survived, he would be crippled, paralyzed, and confined to a wheelchair for life.
Following two years of disability and intense pain, he determined to change his life. After years of fasting, herbology, acupuncture,naturopathy, and intense prayer for healing and divine guidance he eventually overcame his paralysis, but his pain persisted.
Traveling the world in search for healing, it was not until thirteen years after his accident that he was able to find a solution to his pain. The answer was essential oils, which he discovered to be not only pain-relieving, but healing of many maladies. In 1986 he ran a half-marathon and finished in 60th place out of 970 runners.
During his quest for answers, Gary earned a master’s degree in nutrition and a doctorate in naturopathy. Desiring to share his discoveries with the world at large, he opened a clinic in Chula Vista, California, where he not only brought healing to many, but continuously engaged in cutting-edge research to find better and better modalities. In the process, he found that many of the essential oils easily available in the marketplace were inferior and ineffective, their potential power for healing had been diluted and compromised.
To harness the full potential he knew to be inherent in the oils, in 1993 he was led to grow his own herbs and distill his own oils to be assured of their therapeutic quality for himself, his patients, and those who sought to purchase his oils. Since then he has refined and developed, some of the most advanced agricultural and distillation technologies in the world, producing high-grade healing oils.
The origins of Young Living start with Gary Young’s mission to be a healer for himself and then for others and to bring the best of God’s therapies and medicines to the world. It was a spiritual calling, a healing mission. Being a natural educator as well as a healer, scientist, engineer, and researcher, Gary has shared his acquired knowledge and has enabled and empowered thousands to also be teachers and healers as well.
In the very beginning of his oil business, Gary simply made the oils available and sold them, but eventually he saw that network marketing was a better way to market his products. In retail stores, the clerks on hand normally can not and do not have the knowledge nor time to teach customers how to use oils. But essential oils are a product that requires education.
Multilevel marketing is the ideal vehicle for such a product because along with the oils, you get teachers (your upline) who will train you how to use them or guide you to programs and resources that will. Furthermore, Gary and the company continuously offer educational opportunities through numerous seminars and informative literature to keep everyone up-to-date and on the cutting edge of knowledge and technology with respect to using the oils.
In organizing Young Living as a network marketing company, Gary not only created an effective vehicle for distributing therapeutic grade oils of top quality and the educational resources to use them, but has also created a vehicle by which thousands can also financially benefit, building profitable businesses of their own while contributing to a healing mission, global in scope.
Thus evolved Gary’s Mission which is stated in current YLEO literature as follows:
“Young Living Essential Oils is dedicated to uniting ancient traditions and modern science to produce the highest-quality essential oils and oil-enhanced products in the world. We empower individuals and families to achieve their highest potential and enjoy increased physical, mental, emotional, and financial health.”
This mission is not a marketing statement. It is a sincere expression of Gary’s authentic motivations from the beginning, to empower as many people as possible to take control of their own health and well-being by offering top grade essential oils and the resources and necessary training required to use them.
What Are the Missions of Other Companies?
Contrast, with that of YLEO, the origins, motivations, and missions of some of later companies. Some of them seem to be trying to copy Young Living, but with promises of “as good or better, and cheaper.” In their literature and on their websites they do not mention Young Living by name, but in a thinly veiled manner refer to “another company,” which by their description can only be Young Living. In so doing, they are acknowledging that Young Living is the standard to which they and others must measure up to.
There are only three things a business can sell: (1) Quality, (2) Service, and/ or (3) Price. Young Living sells quality and service at fair prices, but price is not their focus while price seems to be a major focus of some newer competing companies. When you focus on the lowest prices, you cannot maintain the same level of product quality and offer the same abundance of services provided by a company whose focus is on quality and service. It is not financially possible to do so.
In evaluating such companies, ask them: “Do they engage in the same level of pioneering research and quality assurance that Gary Young and YLEO does and has always done.” Gary Young and YLEO have invested millions in research to find new oils, better ways to distill and extract oils, better ways to grow and harvest plants that make oils, as well as more effective ways to apply oils to more human diseases and conditions. Gary has been tireless and unceasing in his search for knowledge and understanding to find and use God’s natural products to the fullest potential to which God has imbued them. In my opinion, Gary Young has no equal in this regard.
If YLEO oils are more expensive than some other brands, part of the reason is that YLEO puts millions back into research and development. They constantly spend money for testing in their own lab, as well as in independent labs outside to guarantee and maintain purity and therapeutic grade quality. What other company invests so much and goes to such pains to “produce the highest-quality essential oils?”
We Get Our Oils from the Same Suppliers as YLEO
A statement competing companies often make is “We purchase our oils from the same sources as Young Living.” That may be so, but you need to understand that wholesale and bulk-oil sellers sell many grades of oil. The same company may sell several levels of quality, from the cheapest perfume grades to high-quality therapeutic grades.
Do these new companies know the difference? Do they go to the expense to test and make sure of what they are getting with every batch they receive? Perhaps they have cheaper prices because they are selling lesser grades of oils, which they may have purchased from some of the same suppliers as Young Living, but they are not the same quality as those demanded and verified by Gary and YLEO.
Without investing in the testing technology necessary to guarantee quality, how can such companies even know what they are purchasing and selling? Such testing costs money, which is one reason YLEO oils may cost more. Quality assurance is expensive. You cannot offer the lowest prices and the highest quality at the same time.
Examples from Two Competing Companies
Without naming them, I have been approached by more than one individual representing two relatively new networking oil companies who offer what they claim to be oils of the same quality as “the other company” at lower prices and who also claim to have a better compensation plan for their distributors. In most cases, their prices are, in fact, less than YLEO prices, but not always. They also both offer many blends which seem to be copied from those sold by YLEO, only with somewhat different names. Here are some examples, including their prices. The examples below are from both of the companies I looked into, but I have not identified which blends are from which.
All of these prices are for 15 ml (1/2 oz.) quantities:
OTHER BRAND BLENDS . . . . . . . YOUNG LIVING BLENDS
Ancient Robbers $18.00 . . . . . Thieves $29.50
Bravely $28.00 . . . . . . . . . Valor $19.75
Catch the Dream $27.00 . . . . . Dreamcatcher $54.75
Citrus Delight $12.00. . . . . . Citrus Fresh $11.00
Goodbye Egyptus $28.00 . . . . . Exodus II $45.00
Grateful $23.00. . . . . . . . . Gratitude $59.25
Happiness $21.00 . . . . . . . . Joy $29.50
Harmonize $23.00 . . . . . . . . Harmony $57.50
Humble $40.00. . . . . . . . . . Humility $43.50
Inspiring $19.00 . . . . . . . . Inspiration $42.50
Lady Be Good $20.00. . . . . . . Dragon Time $28.00
Letting Go $45.00. . . . . . . . Forgiveness $32.75
Long Life $15.00 . . . . . . . . Longevity $23.25
Manly $24.00 . . . . . . . . . . Mister $25.00
Mountain Retreat $18.00. . . . . Sacred Mountain $19.75
Painless $35.00. . . . . . . . . PanAway $54.75
Prosperity $22.00. . . . . . . . Abundance $28.25
Purify $15.00. . . . . . . . . . Purification $14.25
Seiz the Aroma $24.00. . . . . . Aroma Seiz $26.50
Serenity $18.00. . . . . . . . . Peace & Calming $24.75
Sweet Angelica $30.00. . . . . . White Angelica $52.75
3 Nephites $18.00. . . . . . . . 3 Wise Men $52.50
It is not hard to see that these companies are trying to imitate YLEO except for pricing. As you can see, almost all of their prices are less than YLEO, although in some cases, not much less. In the cases of Valor, Citrus Fresh, and Purification, the YLEO prices are actually less.
They All Say Their Oils are 100% Pure
Almost every essential oil company says their oils are “pure therapeutic grade,” or “100% Pure,” or “Grade A,” but how many actually test them to know for sure? No company I know of goes to the expense and trouble that YLEO does in testing and verifying the quality of their oils. If YLEO oils cost more, there is a good reason and I am willing to pay for it.
For example, in the gym where my wife and I workout regularly, they sell various products. One of them has a label on the front of the bottle saying “100% Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternafolia).” However, if you read the fine print on the back of the label, the first ingredient is isopropyl myristate, an inexpensive oily ester used in many cosmetics and lotions where good absorption through the skin is desired. It is colorless, odorless, and has a greasy texture due to its relatively large molecular size and weight (270 amu). This is about the same as the weight of a diterpene, which is larger than most essential oil molecules.
Tea tree extract was the second ingredient listed on the label. Yet, the company that sells it claims it to be “100% pure Tea Tree Oil.” It was cheap. Only $8 for a 15 ml bottle compared to $18.75 for the same quantity of Young Living tea tree oil. However, the Young Living Melaleuca is truly 100% pure, a difference one can detect immediately by smelling and feeling the two oils.
I did an oil blot test on this brand of tea tree oil. I put a drop on an absorbent piece of paper. After 24 hours, it left an oily stain, thus proving that it contained fatty oils, even though there were no carriers listed on the label. The way isopropyl myristate is commercially produced, it is not pure and normally contains a certain amount of fatty acids which would explain the oily stain. Pure essential oils will completely evaporate, leaving no visible trace in an oil blot test.
Simple Tests on Two Brands of Birch
In the cases of the two un-named companies some of whose blends I have listed above, one party who approached me sent me a bottle of birch oil. Young Living has not sold birch for several years because Gary has not been able to find a reliable source of therapeutic grade birch. Yet, somehow, this company claims to have found such a source. It so happens that I still have a small bottle of YLEO birch oil, saved from years ago. We did a couple of simple tests.
First of all, the two brands of birch oil do not smell quite the same. The YLEO brand was definitely stronger. Then we put a drop of each on the backs of our hands. The YLEO oil immediately began to penetrate and disappear into the skin. The other brand looked greasy on the skin and when you rubbed it, it was very oily whereas the YLEO birch did not feel oily at all.
Feeling a slick, oily texture is usually a sign that the oil contains a carrier oil of some kind. An oily texture can also indicate the presence of larger essential oil molecules than are common, such as diterpenes or triterpenes. The presence of these latter two types of compounds can be a sign that solvents were used in the extraction process. Some companies distill their oils followed by the use solvents to net the maximum yield from the plant matter. Traces of these solvents thus remain in the oil which reduce its therapeutic value and, in some cases, can be harmful when applied for therapeutic purposes.
We then put a drop of each brand of birch oil on an absorbent sheet of paper. The non-YLEO brand of birch spread slowly out to a small circle about half-an-inch in diameter and stayed that diameter, never getting any larger and maintaining a slick, greasy appearance for several hours. However, the next day it had all evaporated without a visible trace. Hence, it did not prove to contain any fatty oils, but did indicate the presence of larger molecules than one would expect in an oil obtained by distillation only.
When we placed a drop of YLEO birch on absorbent paper it immediately soaked in migrated outwardly until, after a few minutes, it had created a circle that was almost 2 inches in diameter with a dull appearance, as if the oil was rapidly evaporating or disappearing into the fibers of the paper. It never felt or looked greasy as did the other brand. The next day, it, too, had disappeared without a visible trace. It’s rapid expansion when dropped on the paper indicated its composition to be of smaller molecules than the other brand, including the tiny molecules of the many trace compounds that should be present in a genuine therapeutic grade of birch oil.
As an additional test, two and three hours after putting drops of the two brands of birch on the paper, we sniffed the two spots. The YLEO spot was still strongly fragrant of birch while the brand-x spot was odorless. Except for a slight oil mark remaining on the paper, it was as if there had never been a drop of aromatic oil there at all. This difference indicated, again, that there was a greater concentration of small molecules in the YLEO birch while the other brand contained fewer aromatic molecules and more large ones that would be present from an oil extracted using solvents.
Conclusion: The YLEO birch manifested the qualities of a therapeutic grade of essential oil while the other brand was of questionable quality and composition. One thing was certain. The two brands of birch were not the same.
Our Compensation Plan is Better than YLEO
Another claim made by companies competing with YLEO is that they have a better compensation plan. One company claims, “Our pay system is the most generous and simplest ever in network marketing.” and “You can make as much as 71% on the first three levels. . .with no group volume requirements.” They go on to say, “No other Networking Company has paid out so much.”
One company also presents themselves as “non profit,” explaining that this is why they can charge less for their products and pay more to their distributors. They make a direct comparison to YLEO in their literature implying that YLEO’s compensation plan that does not pay as well as theirs. But how can a company charge the lowest prices and simultaneously pay out the highest commissions and stay in business?
You don’t have to have a degree in mathematics or economics to realize that if a company is, in fact, not making a profit and is paying out 71% as they say, they will not last. A few people will make some money for a while, but this company is doomed to crash financially if they continue on their present course. In one thing they are right, however. In saying that no other company has paid out so much, they have to be right. Any company that paid out like that would eventually either have to reduce their payout percents or go bankrupt.
Furthermore, if a company makes no profits and does not operate with a comfortable margin, then it has no money for research and development, nor for educating their distributors. By cutting such corners, such companies have no future.
YLEO is constantly offering educational opportunities for its distributors taught by high quality experts. I am happy that YLEO makes profits. This supports their continued functioning into the future on a solid, secure fiscal basis.
One of the two companies I checked out tabulates a number of safety concerns on their website with respect to their oils. Here are some of their precautions:
1. Do not apply neat oils to the skin.
2. Ingesting any oil should only be undertaken under the supervision of a professional health advisor.
3. Essential oils should always be used diluted over a large body area.
4. When working daily with essential oils, avoid contact with neat oils by wearing gloves.
5. When working with essential oils, ensure adequate ventilation.
Many of us who use Young Living oils, regularly apply them neat, take them orally, never wear gloves, and do so without any harmful consequences. What do these cautionary statements say about the quality of this other brand of oils?
So What Do You Say?
First of all, I cannot say that Young Living has the only good oils on the market. I am sure there are other companies with high grade oils with effective healing properties. The question is, how can you verify the quality of each and every oil other companies sell? It is not feasible, financially or logistically, for individuals to make such determinations for themselves when it comes to dozens of single oils and dozens of blends. In the end, it is a matter of trust and personal experience, not science and laboratory testing. Young Living has earned my trust.
As for answering someone who may approach you to join another company, the discussion above is too much to give as a response. So here are my bottom lines when people from such companies approach me.
First of all, I have been using YLEO oils for years with great results and I know I can always count on the consistency of quality I get from YLEO. I don’t need to send samples to a lab for testing. Young Living does that for me. I am more than satisfied with Young Living oils and see no need to look elsewhere when Young Living products consistently work well for me.
Secondly, I like the mission of Gary Young and that of his company because their mission is my mission, which is to provide genuinely healing oils and products and to empower as many people as possible to take charge of their own healing and wellness. Young Living’s mission is one I choose to support.
Thirdly, I am happy with YLEO pricing. Whatever additional money I may pay to use YLEO oils is worth it. I am happy and willing to do so because I am getting value for my money well beyond what is contained in an amber bottle. When you purchase from YLEO, you get a lot more than a simple vial of essential oil. You are supporting research and the development of new oils and new uses for oils and opportunities for continuing education like no other company provides. Other companies may sell for less because they offer less in overall value.
Furthermore, I am pleased with the YLEO Compensation plan. It is fair and generous and set at pay-out levels calculated to keep the company profitable and fiscally solvent throughout my lifetime and for generations to come.
So there is my answer to anyone who wants me to try another brand. Gary Young started YLEO as a man on a mission. He and the company have remained true to that mission and have remained loyal to us, as YLEO distributors who are counting on the continuance and stability of the company. For that I thank Gary Young and his company. I choose to use YLEO oils exclusively and intend to continue doing so.
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