Welcome to the third installment of 99 Bottles of Oils on the Wall! Each week, I take down 5 bottles of essential oils from my growing collection and share their uses, applications and other items of interest. I’m beginning to wonder whether, by the end of this series, Oils & Spoils will capture a Guinness Book of World Records title as Longest Running Series in a Blog.
Congratulations to last week’s winner of a free bottle of Celery Seed essential oil. How do I get a chance to win a free bottle of essential oils, you ask? Simply click on the Follow icon at the bottom left of your screen to follow Oils & Spoils. I’ll randomly draw one lucky winner from Oils & Spoils followers to receive one of the week’s featured essential oils.
This weeks’ installment features only 2 essential oils: Cinnamon Bark and Spearmint. The oils in my cabinet are arranged alphabetically, an ode to my OCD-like tendencies and to help me find what I need with ease. So, the starting oil for this week’s series is Cinnamon Bark. Now, there are a lot of oils in my cabinet between Cinnamon Bark and Spearmint, but I felt a need to talk about these two oils this week.
Allegations that Young Living Essential Oils Cinnamon Bark and Spearmint essential oils have been adulterated (something added to the essential oil) have been all over social media. These allegations are untrue. I typically tune out or ignore negativity and focus on the positive, but when my friends, who have trusted me to introduce them to essential oils and allowed me to join them on their oily journey, began asking me about these allegations, I knew I could ignore them no longer.
Below are Young Living Essential Oils’ response to these allegations. To view the figures listed, click on the Cinnamon Bark and Spearmint links.
Official Young Living Response
From Corporate: As the world leader in essential oils, Young Living invests heavily in quality assurance as part of our Seed to Seal® process. Recently, allegations were made on social media claiming that specific synthetic chemical compounds were found in lot #15B10032 of our Cinnamon Bark essential oil. The following information will help delineate some of the science we use to ensure our oils are the highest quality and purity and to address these specific allegations.
As vice president of Research and Development and Product Management for the company, I personally oversaw in-house testing for the lot in question. Our team of highly experienced research scientists found no evidence of synthetics. For a more in-depth analysis of the lot in question, please refer to the test results in the attachment to this email.
In addition to our own in-house testing, we sent the lot in question to one of the world’s leading independent European research labs, which is known for its expertise in essential oil analysis. We’ve received the results, and they also show no evidence of synthetic adulteration in the oil.
As a vital step in the Seed to Seal process, Young Living routinely uses a battery of scientific tests to measure the components and chemical properties of our essential oils. Our research scientists use Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) analysis to separate and analyze an essential oil’s components and validate quality. GC-MS is a technique for the analysis and quantitation of organic volatile and semi-volatile compounds and is considered a gold standard in forensic testing. This methodology is routinely used for identifying trace amounts of unknown substances. In addition to GC-MS, our scientists also employ polarimetry, infrared spectroscopy, refractive index, and specific gravity analyses to ensure the purity of our oils.
All Young Living essential oils are created by nature, in nature. Our multiple analyses ensure that our oils meet our very rigorous quality standards. The highly qualified Young Living Research and Development team has a skillset that is acquired with years of experience. This experience is essential to not only run the analyses but to also interpret the complex results. This team cares deeply about quality and purity and has more than 180 years of combined experience in chemical analysis.
My years of experience have led me to Young Living, and I couldn’t be more proud of the team we’ve assembled. Their in-depth analytical chemistry expertise in research and development and quality is industry leading. I joined Young Living last year because I believe in the integrity of this company and in the possibilities of essential oils.
Dr. Mike Buch Vice President of Research and Development and Product Management.
Dr. Buch joined Young Living last year and brings more than 25 years of experience to our team. He most recently served as the senior director of Global Scientific Strategy at GlaxoSmithKline. He earned a BA in chemistry from Franklin and Marshall College and an MS and PhD in analytical chemistry from the University of Delaware. Dr. Buch spent more than two decades leading top-tier research and development departments, as well as global organizations at some of the world’s leading companies. His success has resulted in more than a dozen patents in the health care field, several books, and a number of published articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals. He is also personally responsible for developing health care products with annual sales of nearly $3 billion. Young Living is extremely proud to count Dr. Buch as one of our own.
Dear Young Living Member:
Here is a written update on our scientific activities surrounding Spearmint oil.
The same three labs that raised the issue of adulteration on Cinnamon Bark oil have now raised accusations about Young Living’s Spearmint oil. None of these labs produced consistent results. In fact, since each report misidentified the markers for the production of carvone from limonene, their conclusions are incorrect and invalid.
Each of the reports posted on Facebook claim that “markers” were detected for the production of synthetic carvone from limonene.
Our results clearly demonstrate that there are no markers for synthetically produced carvone from limonene in the lots of Spearmint oil we tested. Additionally, Chemtech-Ford, an independent and accredited lab with over 50 years of experience in testing natural substances, analyzed the suspect lots and also found no evidence of markers associated with the synthetic process.
Let me address each lab’s data individually.
Essential Oil University
Essential Oil University states that the oil contains a “trace” amount of cyano p-menthadiene and that this compound is an indicator of synthetically produced carvone, the major constituent of Spearmint oil.
Furthermore, the report claims that cyanno p-menthadiene is an impurity from the synthetic production of carvone from natural limonene. This “conclusion” is verbatim on each of the four reports from Essential Oil University.
The synthetic route to produce carvone from limonene is known as the Reitsema Procedure and is shown here:
Figure 1: Rietsema process for producing carvone from limonene.
This procedure does not produce any compounds containing cyano groups. Furthermore, cyano p-menthadiene was not found in a thorough search of chemical libraries and the scientific literature, including the Merck Index (the definitive chemists’ encyclopedia of chemicals, drugs, and biologicals for more than 100 years), suggesting that this compound does not exist and has been misidentified. Also, the other two labs referenced by the Essential Oils Consumer Reports group on Facebook did not identify cyano p-menthadiene in their reports.
The reports from Laboratoire Phytochemia jump to a conclusion of adulteration based on a mass spectrum of a compound identified as a “Carvoxime analogue?” The question mark in its conclusion shows that its own analysts were unsure of the identity of the compound. This conclusion appears to have been influenced by a prior knowledge of the Reitsema Procedure because carvoxime is an intermediate compound in this process.
The conclusion showing the mass spectrum of a component claimed to be a “carvoxime analogue” from the Phytochemia report is shown below:
Figure 2: Phytochemia mass spectrum
It would appear that Phytochemia’s library lacks a mass spectrum for carvoxime, and therefore the identification was incorrect. Young Living’s extensive library contains the exact mass spectrum for carvoxime (and its analogues, which by definition have the same mass), as shown below:
Figure 3: Mass spectrum of carvoxime
A comparison of these two mass spectra clearly shows that the Phytochemia data do not match those of carvoxime or any analogues of carvoxime. Thus the data do not support Phytochemia’s conclusion.
Omar Odeh Test
This report is not consistent with any of the other reports, stating an elevated level of limonene that was claimed to be uncharacteristic of Spearmint. It is noteworthy that this is the only test that did not detect eucalyptol (1, 8-cineole) or β-phellandrene, both of which can co-elute (not separate in the chromatographic column) with limonene. Because these compounds were not detected separately, it is likely that these compounds co-eluted with limonene, making the limonene peak appear larger than it is.
This test also reports the presence of a compound called 5-isopropenyl-2-methyl-1-cyclopentenyl-carbonitrile and claims that this compound is a marker for synthetic carvone. This molecule is not present in the Reitsema Procedure (the synthetic process mentioned earlier), nor was it detected by any of the other labs. In fact, we have been unable to find any references in the scientific literature about this compound, and it is doubtful that this compound even exists.
This report also states that “it is rare to see nitrogen functional groups in nature.” Nitrogen fixation, or the “nitrogen cycle,” is a well-known and essential chemical process in all living organisms. Because all amino acids and all proteins contain nitrogen, this element is ubiquitous in all life forms.
This report concludes by stating that the levels of some of the components suggest that the sample is diluted. However, this is the same report that also states that the level of limonene is too high, which contradicts a dilution conclusion.
FTIR results from Young Living
I have stated repeatedly that strong scientific conclusions should be based on multiple, independent test methods. So rather than relying on just GCMS, we have also employed Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy to analyze the same Spearmint oil lots as those called out on Facebook.
FTIR is a technique that ensures specific bonds between atoms. Each bond absorbs specific wavelengths of infrared energy that results in a very precise absorbance spectrum indicative of the bonds present in a sample. Specifically, we used this method to look for the carbon-nitrogen bond found in the cyano (carbo-nitrile) bond. The cyano group was specifically mentioned in two of the three reports on Facebook as a marker for synthetic carvone. This bond was not detected using FTIR.
Figure 4: FTIR spectrum of 3 lots of Spearmint oil with a circle highlighting the region where cyano bond absorbance would be present.
In conclusion, none of the reports posted on Facebook are consistent. Each report claims that “markers” have been detected for the production of carvone from limonene. Each of these markers has been misidentified, thus rendering the conclusions drawn both incorrect and invalid.
Our results clearly demonstrate that there are no markers for synthetically produced carvone from limonene, and Chemtech-Ford also found no evidence of the markers associated with the synthetic process. Its report can be found here.
Dr. Mike Buch
VP of R&D & Product Management
I apologize for the length of this week’s blog, but my friends have specifically asked, where is the Young Living Essential Oils’ corporate response? I am happy to share their response above. Bottom line is that Young Living and independent labs tested the oils in question and found them to be unadulterated.
I’ll add two personal thoughts on the issue and then will resume with sharing the uses, applications and other information about Cinnamon Bark and Spearmint.
- The Seed to Seal process mentioned in Young Living Essential Oils‘ response is in reference to how their essential oils are produced. The company owns the farms and partners with/oversees farms where the trees and plants from which the essential oils are steam distilled or cold pressed are planted, grown and harvested. Young Living Essential Oils controls to the process from selecting which seeds will be planted to sealing the bottles of essential oils. Seed to Seal is the major reason I chose to use Young Living Essential Oils, among all the other brands out there. All this to say, sometimes, the company’s oils go out of stock, due to Mother Nature’s impact on the trees or bushes or the quality of the harvested leaves, buds, bark, resin, etc. Some of the most popular proprietary blends, like Valor and Peace & Calming are frequently out of stock for these reasons, and fans of these blends stock up when they’re back in stock. So, adulterating Cinnamon Bark and Spearmint doesn’t make sense, when other, more popular oils are out of stock. This thought was offered to me by a friend who brought her concerns over what she had been seeing out there to me.
- Haters gonna hate. Friends frequently ask me about other essential oils companies. I will tell them if a competitor’s essential oils are quality oils or tell them what to look for, what questions they should ask if I’m not familiar with the brand. I don’t diss or make up bad things about other essential oil companies. That’s not me. That’s not how I share my passion for essential oils. My family and I will continue to use Young Living Essential Oils, regardless of whether I ever sell another bottle. And I’ll continue to educate myself and others on essential oils, out of personal interest, safety concerns and, dare I say, a calling to help my family and others. Always feel free to ask me questions or share concerns.
Again, sorry for the abnormally long post, but I felt a pull to address the oil bottles in the room. If you made it this far, thank you!!!
This Week’s Featured Oils:
Cinnamon Bark: Cinnamon Bark is available as a Young Living Essential Oils Single and as part of the Vitality New Dietary Essential Oil Line, which means it can be used topically (dilute 1 part essential oil with 4 parts carrier oil), diffused or taken as a dietary supplement. Do not inhale directly from the diffuser or bottle, as Cinnamon Bark may irritate the nasal membranes. Cinnamon Bark helps promote a healthy immune response and has a hot and spicy fragrance that is said to unlock feelings of abundance. Many use it aromatically for its warm, inviting tones. Cinnamon Bark is found in Young Living Essential Oils’ proprietary blends Abundance, Christmas Spirit, Egyptian Gold, Exodus II, Gathering, Highest Potential, Magnify Your Purpose and Oola Grow, as well as personal care and household cleaners that feature Thieves, another Young Living Essential Oils proprietary blend.
Spearmint: Like Cinnamon Bark, Spearmint is available as a Single or as part of the Vitality Line and can be used topically (dilute 1:2), inhaled directly, diffused or as a dietary supplement. When combined with Peppermint, Spearmint supports healthy digestive function. Spearmint is milder than Peppermint and has an invigorating fragrance that is uplifting and calming. Spearmint includes naturally occurring carvone and limonene.
Don’t forget to follow Oils & Spoils this week for your chance to win a free 5 ml bottle of Spearmint essential oil. Until next week, haters gonna hate. But I’m not. I’m going to gonna love, love, love, love, love.
Essential Oils Update
Gonna let these two pictures do the talking. Let me know if you’d like more information on the Young Living Essential Oils Premium Starter Kit and/or May promotions (freebies).