Have you heard that multi-level marketing essential oil companies are part of what’s wrong with our industry? Perhaps you even heard it here?
It’s true. There is a tendency to blame unsafe practices and the overuse of essential oils on these kinds of companies, and that’s not without cause.
But it’s also not the whole story.
In 2013, Sylla wrote a series of blogs she calls, “Confessions of a Vintage Aromatherapist,” and one of those confessions was “I LOVE MLM Companies.”
Given some recent experiences, she decided to write an update on this post. Here it is:
I confess. I’ve said many negative things in the past about the multi-level marketing (MLM) companies that have sprung up in the last 20 years. I don’t like the way they operate using “pseudo” science, promoting extreme undiluted use and daily doses in water or capsules. I’ve accused them and judged them and called them names, and I’ve walked around with my feathers ruffled for some time. But I realized that this toxic anger actually harms me, and I’ve been learning how to release it. In doing so, I’ve come to understand how important this process is to my well-being. I’ve also discovered a few good things about these companies who I’ve treated like enemies, and it feels so much better to think about them in this light. The truth is, I’m actually thankful for them for several reasons.
First, they have been the single most influential factor in the exponential increase of people using essential oils throughout the last 15 to 20 years. I thought we did a good job after 9/11 of spreading the word on how helpful oils can be daily, but these companies get the award for inspiring the most widespread use in the masses. In a way, they’ve stolen my dream. I decided a long time ago that I wanted to help the world through aromatherapy, and these companies are so big now that my education has become a drop in the bucket. I still don’t agree with their methods, but they’re able to appeal to and introduce aromatherapy to people who may not have ever tried it, and thus they have opened a new population up to the oils that we love. This has had a huge impact worldwide, and oils are no longer considered “taboo” or “new age”.
Secondly, I have met some wonderful people who got started with these companies but moved on when they realized something was missing. Many people learned basic introductions from these companies and then became deeper seekers of truth and knowledge without the hoopla and sales pitches. This makes “IPCs” or “wellness consultants” tremendous sources for new students and customers for the educators and essential oil businesses in our field. Sure, some of these beginners may never move forward from where they start, but plenty will, and they are going to need the quality education and products that we already provide. Ideally, we should let go of the idea that it’s “us” against “them” and see that we’re all in this together. One by one, I’ve helped so many students see that education is empowerment, and that we make good choices once we realize what we don’t know!
Thirdly, I’ve found that once these new students have some knowledge to work with, they begin asking great questions. They make us research and look into their claims, and that process can impact all of us in many healthy ways. The whole industry has experienced a growth of knowledge and information in the last few years because of this. They also keep me on my toes. Now, whenever I hear a new claim, I go look at the research for myself, which gives me a good mystery to follow up on. In fact, one company created a fabulous research database that includes many oils and is freely accessible to all.
Another great result is that our students are challenged and intrigued by the things these companies and their associates put out, and they end up following rabbit holes and producing some fabulously-referenced papers that shake things up—something I love to see happening!!!
Finally, because of their financial power, they are able to donate to hospitals, including large donations for wellness centers, so more oils are available to those receiving care. This is a great leap forward into helping aromatherapy become more mainstream in integrative care. And this is big in my book.
More recently, I found the most wonderful set of books that I now use exclusively. And guess what, they are by Dr. Scott Johnson, who is now with DoTerra. I have enjoyed using his earlier book Evidence-Based Essential Oil Therapy: The Ultimate Guide to the Therapeutic and Clinical Application of Essential Oils. Scott and I connected over a Facebook post, began conversing, and I realized that I totally missed this book Medicinal Essential Oils: The Science and Practice of Evidence-Based Essential Oil Therapy because I had my blinders on. Once I reviewed it, I saw what a valuable resource this is for our community. Then I discovered even more, a book called Supercritical Essential Oils: A Companion Resource to Medicinal Essential Oils, which covers all the CO2 extracts and more, including herbal therapy. These two giant books are fully-referenced and are my new go-tos, especially because of the safety data including medication contraindications in detail.
So you can see why I do love these companies and maybe they didn’t steal my dream after all. It wasn’t mine to begin with, and they have helped create my dream by spreading the love of these oils. And it doesn’t look like that’s going to slow down, so perhaps I could congratulate myself for having that dream so long ago, and others who also had that dream, who helped enable this spread. So yes, I am grateful for these companies afterall.
Here’s the one thing I know for sure: If we can find common ground, we have a place to stand together. I believe it’s that act that makes all the difference.
So I want to know, do you find yourself on one side of the aisle or the other when it comes to MLMs in the aromatherapy industry? If so, what do you see as the benefit of coming together, no matter your perspective?
Leave us a comment here to tell us where you stand on this sometimes controversial issue.