When I write these posts, I think about the kinds of people who are reading them. I imagine you to have similar interests to mine: music, productivity, essential oils, and maybe a good story.
Speaking of stories, I also imagine my readers to be people who care about the products they are buying. We are concerned for the environment and for the lives of the people who supply the products we consume. We want to know that our money is supporting companies that align with these values that are so important to us.
I originally intended this post to be about the Loyalty Rewards Program, how it works and how to work the system to get greater value for your dollar. That post is still coming, but in my attempt to get to that information I got sidetracked into the story of dōTERRA’s sourcing model and why essential oil purity matters. It matters to the consumer of course, but it also matters to the people who produce the product, and to the environment that supports the product in the first place.
If this matters to you, please read on. You are my people.
Smoke and Mirrors, Part I
Let’s face it. Essential oils (well, the good ones anyway) aren’t cheap. (Stay tuned for a post about how to make your dōTERRA purchases more affordable.)
You may be tempted to read about all the great ways to use essential oils, then look at some of the prices and think, “Never mind, I’ll just grab that lavender from the health food store. It says it’s ‘100% pure’ and it’s from the health food store, so it’s good!”
Friends. Please, no. The essential oil industry is not regulated. For an oil to say it’s “100% pure” it only must have some of its contents be 100% pure. Also, because of the way the supply chain works, a company may think it’s getting a pure oil but may not be getting what they think.
dōTERRA’s model eliminates brokers, sources oils all over the world where they are at their most chemically pure and potent, supports the farmers and distillers who are already doing the good work and know what they’re doing, and they do all of this with environmental sustainability central to their mission. This work directly with the farmers is crucial to ensuring the essential oil purity, and thus the efficacy of the product we use at home.
Learn more about dōTERRA’s Co-Impact Sourcing model here. While on that site you’ll also see a link for a deeper dive at www.sourcetoyou.com. There you will find stories of single oils, where they come from, who are the people behind them, and how dōTERRA is making a difference.
One of my favourite stories is about Frankincense. When you follow that link and read about Frankincense sourcing, you’ll see why dōTERRA sources their Frankincense where they do, and how they are supporting the communities where the farms are located. You’ll see how dōTERRA prioritizes fair dealings with their sourcing partners and gives back to the people who live in those areas.
There is a whole lot more to that story. When I attended one of the Global Conventions a couple of years ago there was a lot of information about Frankincense sourcing. One of the stories that really spoke to me was about how the Frankincense groves belong to families, and often provide the only source of income for them. There is a high demand for Frankincense, and there is a huge brokerage industry around Frankincense sourcing. Brokers offer desperate farmers a price for their Frankincense oil, buy it for less than it’s worth, then re-sell it at a markup, sometimes keeping it pure, or sometimes diluting it with lesser-quality oil or other substances.
dōTERRA spoke of many challenges in setting up their Frankincense supply chain. They needed a lot of Frankincense, beyond what one family’s grove could provide. They asked many families to work together to supply dōTERRA with the material they needed, and in exchange dōTERRA promised to work only with them and with no one else. No more brokers would be undercutting the farmers’ sales, and dōTERRA would guarantee support. For these families to work together was unprecedented.
So, the farmers and distillers have a guaranteed contract with dōTERRA. They are paid fairly and on time, and they get a raise every year just as dōTERRA offers their employees at their home office.
The Essential Oil Purity Problem
Back to essential oil purity: dōTERRA’s oils are tested by a third-party lab called the Aromatic Plant Research Centre. This centre does testing for a lot of different companies. dōTERRA posts the results of these tests online for anyone to see, and you can find those at www.sourcetoyou.com. You’ll see somewhere on a report “This oil is free of contaminants or adulterations” or something along that line. If it’s not 100% pure according to APRC, it never gets bottled.
Why does essential oil purity matter? Because you just don’t know what the other hidden ingredients might be doing to you, or to the people around you who are experiencing the oil too. This is especially important if there‘s anyone in the home with respiratory sensitivities, very young people, elderly people, and pets.
Give it a try. See the graphic below? You’ll see a photo of the bottom of a bottle of essential oil. Look at the top number: 170697A. When you go to www.sourcetoyou.com you’ll see a spot on the top right that says, “Enter your quality ID.” Pop that number in there and see what happens. You can do this with any of your single oils in your stash.
Smoke and Mirrors, Part II
Many of you know the story of my mom: she only had one functioning lung, and that one lung didn’t work very well. Doctors never figured out that funky lung, so she just went on with her life, managing her one asthmatic lung without complaint.
At home we tried our best to be as “scent free” as we knew how back in the ’70s and ’80s. Mom could never walk down the laundry aisle, and there were only one or two brands of shampoo that were ok for her to use. She was into DIY cleaners before that was even a thing. Some cleaners were ok, some were definitely not. She had her own Ventolin machine in the house because she had asthma attacks all the time.
It used to frustrate me that I could never have things that smelled pretty. My hair products caused her to wheeze. I never owned a bottle of perfume until I moved away to university, and even then, I always felt like I was bothering people with it because I was so used to being without it.
A few months ago, I came across this great documentary called “Stink”. It’s on Netflix, and it’s all about the “Fragrance Act” and hidden chemicals in so many products we consume. I wish I had known all of this when Mom was still around. As we say, “Know better, do better.”
Have you heard of the “Fragrance Act”? I’ll be honest, I didn’t know anything about this before.
Check the products in your home and look for the word “fragrance” or “parfum”. Then read these articles:
And please watch “Stink”.
Ingestion: Do or Do Not
This essential oil purity problem is one of the reasons why ingestion of essential oils is such a huge topic of debate. Of course, you must use caution when ingesting essential oils (only dōTERRA’s, please!) and remember to use only 1-2 drops at a time.
One of the ways to check the purity of an essential oil you have around at home is to look on the label to see if it is indicated as safe for ingestion. Lemon oil is a great example. You know when you have instructions in a recipe to use grated lemon zest? Guess what you’re actually doing? You’re releasing the essential oil of the lemon that lives in the rind. The recipe is asking you to use lemon essential oil in the recipe.
Lemon essential oil falls under the category of “GRAS”, or “generally recognized as safe”. Look here for the FDA’s explanation of this designation.
If you have a bottle of Lemon oil from another company go grab it and check the label. There should be some indication on the label that shows it’s safe for ingestion. You might see, “For aromatic, topical and dietary use.” Or you’ll see the nutritional information label. You may see something different, but you should see something that says if you were to ingest some that you won’t be doing any harm. If you don’t see this, friends, you may not have a pure Lemon essential oil there.
I’ll close with two favourite stories about dōTERRA’s concern for their environmental impact.
Story #1: Frankincense (again)
Back to Frankincense. The families who own the Frankincense groves rely on the income from those trees to support themselves. Sometimes this results in over-harvesting of the trees, which can cause irreparable damage to those trees.
dōTERRA has an environmental expert who comes in to oversee the harvesting practices to ensure the health of the trees. On one such tour their expert saw that one grove had been over-harvested. That entire grove needed to rest and rejuvenate for an entire harvest cycle. Under normal circumstances this would be disastrous for that family as they would lose that income for the entire year.
This is where the proprietary business relationship comes into play. dōTERRA stepped in and ensured the family they would pay their salary for that year even though they would not be producing any Frankincense oil that year.
Story #2: Black Spruce
Let’s bring it into Canada now. The lovely Black Spruce is sourced in Northern Quebec and is one of my favourite oils. The reason I’m bringing it up here is because of the sourcing and distillation process that results in a zero-carbon footprint loop. It’s really interesting. Read more about it here.
In a nutshell, Black Spruce oil is harvested from the branches and needles, parts of the tree that would otherwise be left to rot. The dōTERRA report explains, “These left-to-spoil remnants create a significant issue that negatively affects both the environment and local economy, and historically no additional value was garnered from them—until now.”
These branches and needles are steam distilled. There is waste from this distillation process which is then re-used to burn for distillation of the next batch of raw material. More material to burn -> more oil -> more material to burn, etc. It’s an elegant solution.
Making a Difference
I hope this post has given you more to think about when using your oils. I didn’t even get into dōTERRA’s foundation work with the Healing Hands Foundation. If you’ve read this far, I would expect this topic to be of interest to you too.
Did you learn something useful in today’s post? I would love to hear your thoughts. Please post below!
If you have any requests for post topics please send those along and I’ll see what I can do!