THE ESSENTIAL EDGE | DECEMBER 2016 ISSUE
D. Gary Young Shares an Inside Perspective into the Seed to Seal Process
The world of essential oils is multifaceted and very complex, beginning with the location and including the soil, seeds, cultivation, harvest, and distillation. After actual production we have to look at many factors: the purpose of smelling nice, invigorating wellness, sharing with a social network, and for many producers, the ultimate goal of making money.
The awareness and interest in essential oils today is fascinating to me and yet, at the same time, is also very discouraging, with a future that has become more questionable and elusive than when I started 30 years ago.
In 1979, I used to go to a natural health bookstore in Spokane, Washington, where I would spend my lunchtime doing my homework. I had never heard of essential oils prior to visiting this women's store until she asked me that fateful question, "What do you know about essential oils?" As we talked, her knowledge stimulated a new avenue of thinking for me.
However, by 1982, I had given away all the essential oils that I had bought because I saw no value in them after having used them in my massage practice while going to school. Not until 1985, when I was introduced to real essential oils at the Geneva Medical University by Dr. J. C. Lapraz did I realize there is a difference between pure plant-produced oils and laboratory manufactured perfume oils. Today, we can add to the synthetic list nature identical fragrance oils and 3rd and 4th-grade oils cut with synthetic compounds to mimic the look of pure oils.
When I started 31 years ago, no cared about quality, simply because it was not an issue. The oils were used for flavor and fragrance, potpourri, and incense. The thought of using them for health and wellness purposes had not really crossed the minds of the masses, nor had anyone really thought of marketing them to the general public at that time. Dr. Jean Valnet experimented with essential oils during World War II, but it never caught on, and he was considered crazy to use "those oils" for health.
When I introduced the idea of using pure essential oils for health care and wellness, I was considered to be crazy, a quack, a snake oil salesman, and many other unkind and derogatory things.
However, in spite of what everyone else said, there was a new spark of excitement within me that took me to France to learn about how the oils were used as well as how they were produced in the distilleries. The more I learned, the more I realized how critical it was to use pure essential oils.
In 1987, I met a Frenchman who had moved to Los Angeles with the intent of opening a shop and selling essential oils to the Americans. I thought that perhaps he could be a supplier for me and save me a lot of time and money. When I smelled the oils, I knew they were not right, based on what little I had learned already. When I questioned him, he said, "No one in America knows anything about essential oils and there is such a supply of poor quality and inferior oils from the perfume trade that I can buy them dirt cheap and make a huge profit here in America. Gary, you could be my number one sales agent. Americans will buy anything if you tell them a story."
I left his shop and never saw him again. But he was right and today outside of Young Living -- and a few dedicated suppliers -- I believe that it is common to find adulterated and/or synthetic oils.
Today, the phrase "Pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils," a phrase that I coined in 1990, has spread like the common cold. It is upsetting to me that innocent, uneducated buyers are lured into thinking they are getting my standard of quality and then boasting that the oil is just as good, but cheaper. The pirating of information and educational materials, copying of blends, and even plagiarizing my books and photos out of desperation to be something they can and never will become has been ongoing since essential oils became a marketing phenomenon for profit.
I am saddened when I hear our members become frustrated with Young Living having an oil out of stock when the same oil can be bought from another company, on the internet, or in a store. Yes, you can buy that oil, but it may not be the quality for which we stand -- the Young Living quality. Or it may be from a lot we rejected.
If making money is your goal, then everything else becomes secondary. If wellness is your goal, then money becomes secondary, and the production of that oil becomes paramount, which changes the dynamics of how you buy and use your oils.
Purity is a matter of interpretation. I am certain that laboratory-manufactured oils are made with "pure" chemicals. You can buy a pure synthetic oil with only an aromatic response intended, and hardly anyone will know the difference. Many people love the smell of synthetics. How many people love to walk through the perfume department in a commercial business? How many people hold their breath as they walk through as quickly as possible to get to the other side?
An oil that has even one single component that is made in a laboratory and added to increase the volume for profit can still be stamped "pure," meaning that it is uncontaminated from outside of the laboratory, assuming that the rest of the components are pure. It's like adding rancid oil to a cake batter -- the whole recipe becomes rancid.
Young Living is about "pure," but our pure is God's pure, meaning "as God created it" -- unaltered and uncontaminated with synthetics. However, many other factors must be considered -- location, soil, seed, cultivation, weather, and harvesting, maturing, and distilling methods.
How can someone who has never farmed, never distilled, and never analyzed an oil know if the oil is pure or adulterated? Who are you talking to or who is telling you their story? Are you talking to someone in marketing, the president of the company, the chemist, the laboratory technician, the operator's director, the buyer, or the vender? Have any of them been to the farm or farms that produce their oils, helped in the planting and distilling, been actively involved in the production? Or do they just visit the farms and walk around and look and act important?
What about those selling the "same" oil from another company on the internet? What kind of knowledge do they have, and what have they experienced? Do they care about the quality or just the money that comes from the bottle of oil they are selling? These are all things that you have to consider, and those who have more knowledge will certainly have a better idea about quality. Words are cheap, but the truth that backs those words comes with tremendous work and care about what they sell to the public.
Many of you have been to one or more of our farms and been a part of the harvest and distillation. You know what it takes -- the sacrifice, the challenges, and the excitement of success. There is nothing like watching the oil bubble up in the separator. Those of you who have had that fabulous experience know what it takes to produce a pure oil, what it looks like, and how it smells and feels. There is no mistake.
We cannot control Mother Nature, and sometimes she doesn't give us the best conditions. Too little rain, too much rain, too hot, too cold, short growing season, low levels of soil nutrients, etc., all determine what kind of a harvest we will have.
About three years ago when we were in St. Maries for the melissa harvest, we had a very disappointing season. Many members came to help, but the weather was cold and rainy, the melissa didn't grow very well, and it wasn't ready to be cut. Sadly, many members went home having missed our on the harvest. When we finally had some hot weather, the season was almost over and too short for the melissa to reach full maturity, so our crop production was much less than in previous years.
If the oil production is less than what we need, the oil goes out of stock, and products made with the out of stock oil also go out-of-stock. I can then then learn to live with the out-of-stock oil until the next harvest, look for additional suppliers who will follow our seed to seal standard, reformulate the products with oils that are similar but easier to source, or add a synthetic ingredient to make up the difference and meet the demand. Some people may not care, but I do. I want only the purest and the best for our members, my family, and myself.
Government regulations also determine our ability to buy an oil. The oil may be available but the paperwork is voluminous and the time involved for approvals seems insurmountable. I have spent much time analyzing our situation and trying to determine the best direction to go. I have been able to reformulate several blends, and some of these new blends I like even better.
Many oils have similar constituents, so I can use a different oil with the same constituent, but perhaps I just have to adjust the amount. This way I am able to achieve a beautiful aroma with the same desired response.
Valor has been on of our top blends since I created it in 1991. Blue Tansy, an important ingredient in Valor, has been in very short supply from the beginning. However, until three years ago, our numbers were much smaller; but with our exponential growth, we have not been able to meet your demand. Farmers cannot increase their crops three and four times in size overnight. Crops just don't grow that fast, and sometimes more land is not immediately available.
I thought I might have to build a farm in one of the African coastal countries, but the time and money involved would be a bit staggering, especially after the immense effort to build our farm and distillery in Split, Croatia. However, we have found several growers who are increasing their crops, which increases the capacity to produce this precious oil.
Rosewood has also been a difficult oil to procure, but I have found another oil with the same constituents that is so close that it can easily be substituted, and with a few other tweaks, we'll have another spectacular bend.
I am just concerned about our oil supply chain as you are, and we are making a lot of progress with solutions. We are constantly adding new growers and partner farms, which is the only possibly way that we will be able to meet the demand. We are continually expanding our current farms and being very calculating in the decisions we make.
Our Ecuador farm is very well managed, and the fields of oregano and dorado azul are breathtaking, expanding as far as the eye can see. The ylang ylang groves are immense, and new extraction chambers have been installed for the increased production. We are fortunate to be able to grow year-round in Ecuador, but the other farms have short seasons, so we have to move quickly and hope that the season and temperatures are favorable to hardy crops.
I hope that I have given you enough of a picture of how important the production of our oils is to all of us, so when you are in a department store and see lavender, frankincense, melissa, etc., on their shelves for a fraction of the Young Living price, you will know the difference.
God's purity is not cheap and is not always consistent with demand. God's pure oils come with intense labor and care, but what you get is the very best.
D. Gary Young