Recently, I’ve had a number of patients come in with severe gastro-intestinal issues who’ve been put on Do Terra essential oils by chiropractors or physios. These poor individuals have been conned into believing the practitioner’s claims that these oils are beneficial to their gut microbiota and can be used for long periods of time.
Now, as a gastro-intestinal specialist who spent 5 years in college and another 6 in practice, this is deeply concerning to me. Most friends and colleagues would describe me as liberal-minded, that is I live by a philosophy of accepting other people’s beliefs, food and medical choices provided they don’t harm anybody else. As a natural health practitioner, I’m also regularly bombarded with health claims from clients about the latest fad such as instant-miracle creams, fat-loss supplements and magic antioxidants with ethereal names like ASEA. I don’t contest these – as long as I think they’re doing no harm to my patients – after all, who am I to judge what people like to spend their money on?
With DoTerra though my radar alert for ‘dangerous scam’ was most definitely turned on, especially since the clients who came to see me and were taking these oils were far from well and were suffering from severe gastro-intestinal problems.
So, what’s my issue with DoTerra oils? Let me make a list for your convenience:
1) It is a multi level marketing company
This just puts me off DoTerra straight off the bat. For me a company that chooses a pyramid-scheme/multi level marketing as a business model is, a priori, potentially unethical and is more about making money through unsuspecting and naive individuals than about product quality. ‘nough said.
2) They use the word ‘safe’ in all of their marketing – specifying that their oils can be ingested long term – and use lots of images of glossy, healthy kids, making you think they’re safe for young children
Essential oils can be safe – when prescribed by experienced professionals – and no, essential oils should not be taken long term – and most certainly they should not be prescribed if at all for young children whose gut microbiota is still establishing itself. The term safe is also relative. Safe compared to what? Essential oils are non-selective when it comes to our gut microbiota. Meaning that you will be wiping out good bacteria when taking these long term.
In clinic we use essential oils to deal with parasites and non-beneficial bacteria. We only do this following a detailed stool analysis that tells us exactly what’s in your gut and we’re very judicious in our use of these ingredients.
We use them for very short periods of time, we rotate them with more selective herbs like garlic and pomegranate, that have been demonstrated not to affect lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, and then follow with a long, intensive gut repair program.
3) They make claims that are not substantiated
You read things like ‘immune enhancing’. How is a blend of essential oils that’s going to be wiping out your beneficial gut flora ‘immune enhancing’ exactly?
Immune enhancing products are the ones that are going to be promoting the growth, diversity and attachment of beneficial microbiota to the gut lining.
4) Just as in all other MLM companies, the individuals who sell these products are not trained in the subject they’re trying to sell you.
It is deeply upsetting to me as to why a chiropractor would think they are qualified to prescribe essential oils to be taken internally to a patient who has chronic diarrhoea.
Just to give you an idea, diarrhoea could be caused by a parasite or other infection, Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Coeliac’s disease or other non-coeliac enteropathy, SIBO, allergies, cancer among many other things.
So when I hear that a chiro has just prescribed DoTerra oils and said to the client that these will clear all parasites and are safe to keep taking my tolerance levels just go out of the window. After all, I don’t give my clients adjustments for their spinal subluxations so why should a chiropractor prescribe herbs or essential oils for a gut condition?
In the case of the clients I saw, both had parasites (which DoTerra oils hadn’t cleared) and both had non-existent levels of beneficial bacteria (most likely wiped out by the ‘safe’ DoTerra oils) and severe malabsorption.
So, if a practitioner/relative/FB friend extols the amazing virtues of this new, incredibly exciting and safe product, please do the following:
- Ask the practitioner if they’re on a multi level marketing scheme
- Google the product followed by the word ‘scam’ next to it – you’ll be surprised what comes up
- Trust your gut instinct. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.