All Essential Oils Are Not The Same

And all essential oil companies are not the same
Catherine Nelson, LMT, CST, CKTS

I began using essential oils in my massage practice at its inception in 2005. We'd been taught in massage school that essential oils had all these wonderful healing properties and so many benefits to the body. And I'd heard dozens, maybe hundreds, of stories about the incredible healing power of essential oils.
But I'd never personally seen any such benefits. Not to myself, and not to my patients.
Over the next twelve years, I completely lost faith that essential oils were good for much more than providing a pleasant smell.
It seems like most people I've talked with have had similar experiences and draw the same conclusion. But I was wrong. Here's why.

The Synthetic Problem

In my ignorance I believed all essentials oils were basically the same. After all, if it's peppermint oil, surely all peppermint oil comes from the same plants.
I have learned that is absolutely false. In fact, most of the oils I purchased at the store were not from plants at all, but synthetic.
"Synthetic" means man-made. In this case, made in a chemistry lab. Synthetic oils are chemical compounds designed to have the same aroma as the real thing, but because they are fake, they contain no real essential oil, and therefore will have no effect on the body's cells. (And, actually, may have a negative impact.)

An Adulterated Gambit

Not all store-brand oils are completely fake. Rather, more often they contain a very small amount of the true oil with the remainder being either a synthetic compound or a filler oiler. Both the synthetic stuff and the fillers are cheaper to produce.
A good example of a filler oil is in the lavender family. Lavandin is a cousin plant to lavender, and has the same scent as true lavender. However, it does not have many of the therapeutic benefits lavender has. But lavandin is cheaper to produce.
So companies will use a small amount of true lavender essential oil and fill the remainder of the bottle with lavandin. They can charge the consumer the going rate on true lavender oil and save themselves the cost of actually providing it. This is called "adulteration."
So while there is a bit of the actual oil in the bottle, that's not all you're getting, and you're not getting what you think you've paid for. It's a lot like adding water to the whiskey, and most consumers will never know the difference. Except the oils aren't as potent as promised. Which leaves people thinking that essential oils in general don't work.
In my research into essential oil companies, I've learned most store-bought oil companies and most direct-order companies operate this way. I say "most" because while I've researched dozens of companies (all of which operate this way), I haven't looked at every essential oil company out there, so there could be that rare exception to the rule.

The Store-Bought Problem

Here are some of the oils I'd previously been using in my practice:

In June 2016, I became incredibly sick with an upper respiratory infection that became a terrible case of pneumonia. I turned to the bottle of oregano I had on hand-the one I'd been using with patients for years. Oregano is a natural antibiotic and antiviral immune support. But when I examined my bottle (the Now brand shown above), I found something interesting. The bottle said, "Not for internal use."

What? This didn't make any sense. Oregano is an herb for crying out loud, it's edible. But this oil is not to be ingested? That was the first red flag, one I wished I'd noticed many years earlier.
Still, I tried it. Because it couldn't be ingested, I used it topically and in a diffuser multiple times a day.
Of course, I saw absolutely no change.
All of the oils in the above picture are oils that should be ingestible. Oregano, clove, cinnamon, ginger, lemon, lemongrass, peppermint, and lavender are all herbs and spices we cook with and eat. Why, then, are these oils "not for internal use?"
It might be because the companies are attempting to avoid litigation or remain complaint with the FDA. It also might be because whatever is in the bottle is synthetic and dangerous to ingest. If that's true, why would we want to inhale or absorb those compounds through our skin?
Not only does that expose use to potentially harmful toxins, there would be no therapeutic benefit apart from the pleasant smell.

The doTERRA Difference

A friend of mine and fellow massage therapist had been using doTERRA products for many years. She's also a nurse, and would tell me remarkable stories of how well doTERRA oils worked. Not only did she use them herself and see these benefits, but she used them with her own patients.
I was skeptical based on my own experiences, and told her so. She invited me to come receive an AromaTouch Technique. Without going into details here, that is a specific doTERRA oils protocol using specific oils applied in a prescribed manner.
I accepted, but reluctantly.

doTERRA Oils Work

I was pretty sure the experience would just be a relaxing one with a lot of nice-smelling oils. I almost canceled twice thinking I'd be better off not wasting my time or hers.
Boy, was I wrong. And I'm so glad I went.
I got up from that table feeling like I'd been transferred into a whole new body, and that's not an understatement. The experience was profound.
Suddenly I started wondering if all those stories I'd heard over the years might in fact be true. But how? How had so many people experienced such amazing benefits when I never had?
The difference is in the oils. It takes real, pure, potent oils.

"Adulteration" vs "Contamination"

It's important to understand what both of these are, because both significantly effect the oils you're using and the outcome you're trying to achieve.
As mentioned above, adulteration is a deliberate altering of the product in the bottle. In most cases, it means something else has been added.
Contamination is something that can happen naturally or unintentionally with irresponsible or corrupt sourcing, harvesting, and production practices. Essential oils are made from plants, and plants grow in the wild. The risk of having contaminates in the oils is easy to see.
However, these are eliminated with such practices as responsible and natural growing and harvesting. For example, planting and harvesting in season, and abstaining from using chemical pesticides on the crops.
Both adulteration and contamination significantly effect the potency of the oils, decreasing the usefulness to nothing or almost nothing. And depending on what's been added or allowed to slip in, there might actually be a risk to you.
After my profound personal experience with doTERRA's oils, I began doing my research for the first time. I began to learn what essential oils actually are, and how they're supposed to work. Any why they work that way in the body. And I looked into doTERRA as a company.
Of the companies I researched, I found doTERRA has the highest standard of purity in the industry. Every batch of oil produced is tested three times before being bottled for sale. One of those tests is done in an independent third-party lab. And while many companies have their oils tested by third-party labs, doTERRA is the only company to publish 100% of those results.
If any batch is found to be contaminated, it's never sold.
Every single bottle is full of exactly the oil it claims, and that oil is completely unadulterated, pure, and extremely potent.

Purity Equals Efficacy

About a month after receiving my first order of doTERRA oils in the fall of 2016, I woke up with a scratchy throat, a stuffy nose, and a headache. After being so sick that June, I absolutely could not be down with anything else. I immediately used doTERRA's immune support blend On Guard as well as oregano. I used each twice. By afternoon, my symptoms were gone and I felt great. I never got sick.
That's how the oils should work.
Indeed, every time I use a doTERRA oil, it works. Usually with just a single drop.
I never cease to be amazed at how incredibly effective the oils are. And the more I learn about how they work, it just makes sense. It's almost as if there's no way they could not work-if the oil is pure.
After using these oils myself for the last five years, and sharing them with my patients, I now have many of those amazing stories myself.

For Internal Use

These are doTERRA's version of the same oils I'd previously been using. All of these oils are ingestible. Indeed, at the time of this writing doTERRA has 37 single oils and several blends that are ingestible. These are very much "For internal use."
The science of essential oils has absolutely exploded in the last several years. doTERRA is very much in that arena, often leading the way. So much has been learned, researched, and proven about how essential oils work in the body and why.
Many health issues are best effected by using the oils internally. I am so grateful knowing I can make recommendations to patients that will not only help them but pose them no risk of harm.

To Your Health

Do you have a health issue that you live with on a daily basis? Have you ever considered essential oils?
If you'd like to try doTERRA's oils, you're welcome to search for the items you'd like through my website.
If you're not sure which oils would be most helpful to you or where to start, give me a call and let's talk. These types of consultations are free to you. You'll be able to tell me what's going on, and I'll help you find the products that would be most beneficial to you. I'll also walk you through how to use the oil. I can be reached through the "Contact Us" button on Del Sol Community Wellness's website or at the contact information below.
If you're tired of managing the health issue you have, or if you'd like to explore natural ways to take care of yourself and get away from medications and toxic chemicals, I'm excited to help you find your way.
Here's to your health.


Catherine Nelson, LMT, CST, CKTS, is a long-time massage therapist with a long and varied background in Western medicine. She specializes in CranioSacral Therapy for PTSD and anxiety, medical massage therapy for injury rehabilitation, and sports massage therapy for all phases of training and competition. She can be reached directly at