Lee Tea is an investigative journalist with a focus on essential oil consumer advocacy.
Dr. Josh Axe's webinar on essential oils is heavily promoted online this month, targeting essential oil users on Facebook as a sponsored ad:
Sponsored Advertisement by Dr. Axe
Does it deliver as advertised? Let's take a look.
Dr. Axe's repeated referral of tea tree oil as "maleleuca" is a tip off that this information may be from an essential oil sales and marketing company.
The Seminar's Introduction
The advertisement first promotes a seminar where the face behind the name, Dr. Josh Axe, will talk about the top essential oils for natural healing.
That curious topic comes a little later in the seminar, which begins first with a general background and history on essential oils. Dr. Axe explains how most of today's medicines are actually made from essential oils. Synthetic medicines are noted to be toxic, unlike essential oils which are classified in contrast as natural and gentle. We then hear that essential oils are referenced over 300 times in the bible.
None of this is reliably accurate.
First, it is the healing herbs as a whole plant, which contain constituents not found in the plant's scent oil, that have influenced modern medicine in the manner being described. Pharmaceutical companies still buy whole plant material for the purpose of manufacturing medicine.
Next, both synthetic and natural medicinals can be toxic, and adverse side effects are a risk of using both. As essential oils are the pure, undiluted, concentrated extractions of a plant's aromatic oils, this is not an impossible consideration. And as some essential oils like lemon and orange are used industrially as degreaser and paint thinner, this is not a point that should be absent from a general information presentation geared towards new essential oil consumers.
Finally, while references to healing plants, anointing oils, incense, and infused oils can be located in biblical passages, none of these are the pure, concentrated essential oils being addressed in this seminar. It is said Jesus received frankincense and myrrh, but these are resins derived from tree sap, not the extracted aromatic oils of a plant.
Why did the Wise Men gift aromatic resins over essential oils? Foregoing a comparison of quality, ability and capabilities, a quick history lesson reveals their options were likely limited and their decision may have been a forced one. Since the equipment and solvents needed to distill essential oils from plants were a product of the Middle Ages, it appears the Wise Men did the best they could with what they had - gifts fit for a king, even by today's standards.
A century and a half time discrepency between biblical stories and the beginnings of pure, unadulterated essential oil extraction is also why essential oils are not referenced in the bible at all. The idea that they are is a popular myth propagated by high ranking, heavily involved essential oils marketing affiliates with professional titles, selling books printed by the marketing company's associated publisher. I have found this deceptive link between essential oils and the bible is almost always associated with a product available for purchase from two marketing companies wildly popular for selling them, Young Living or doTerra.
At this point the webinar is less than 5 minutes old, and Dr. Axe is 0 for 3.
Dr. Axe Discusses the Top Essential Oils for Natural Healing
As promised, Dr. Axe does turn the topic of discussion towards the best essential oils for natural healing. The healing properties of some of the most readily available, top selling essential oils on the market are introduced by outlining a combination of health benefits characteristic of whole plant preparations, including essential oils. The distinction of which benefits are exclusive to essential oils however is not clearly defined.
The Axe seminar discusses using essential oils like lavender for skin disorders, a fitting detail for the featured topic. Some generalized notions are then raised, like lemon for sore throat and peppermint for IBS, leaving the audience to wonder if the more familiar, more cost effective and more accessible plant parts themselves may offer comparable benefits. The antimicrobial tea tree essential oil is discussed using a portion of its Latin name, "maleleuca", a popular moniker for tea tree oil among direct sales representatives.
Ambiguous details continue to follow regarding the benefits of various herbal preparations, using terms that could be construed in different ways. For example, references are made to both "oil of oregano" and "frankincense oil", terms that could be used to reference either a whole-plant infusion OR the plant's essential oil. Understanding these are not the same product is critical, as they vary in potency, constituency and, thus, capability.
Directions are then offered based on this unclear terminology. For example, rubbing "oil of oregano" on your feet to boost immunity is advised, a method of application promoted by sales companies found to have little to no benefit other than aromatherapy by both aromatherapists and reflexologists. Again, this vague phrasing could either refer to an infusion of oregano leaves in olive oil suitable for cooking (more specifically termed "oregano infused oil"), or the far more concentrated "oregano essential oil" which is a known irritant and should be heeded as such, particularly if applying to young or sensitive skin.
Likewise, generous praise is given to "frankincense oil" and frankincense's promising anti-cancer constituents collectively referred to as "boswellia", though frankincense ESSENTIAL oil does not contain these boswellic acids. If the sample of frankincense contains boswellic acids, they are a component of the resin and can sometimes be located in heavier deposits of distilled material leading up to the pure, volatile essential oils collecting at the top.
Exploiting Misleading Terminology
This article displays a keen awareness of the differences in properties between frankincense resin, frankincense infused oil, and frankincense essential oil. Watch the author tip-toe around terminology while educating you on the benefits of frankincense ESSENTIAL oil. Keep in mind frankincense essential oil does not contain boswellic acids:
Why is This Class Free?
It appears as though the information provided in this web-based seminar is not full disclosure.
It could be forgiven as a simple matter of unfamiliarity with the composition and capabilities of essential oils as a well-meaning celebrity doctor tries to introduce the public to ways they can take charge of their own health, so long as other ulterior motives are not present.
Are there other motives present? Let's look at the information contained in the seminar's follow up contacts.
Case #1: Email Bombardment
Case #2: Token Catch Phrases
Case #3: Sales Company Affiliation
Case #4: Classic Bait and Switch
This seminar is a compounded sales pitch. The follow up emails, classes for sale, and links to major marketing companies you can actually buy essential oils from here makes it perfectly clear that the real goal is not to merely educate you for free on the safe and effective uses of essential oils, as the information provided by Dr. Axe misses the mark in both of these areas. The seminar is typical of most free beginner essential oil "classes" and presentations which you are often made aware of via word of mouth or social media.
"This alone shows the information contained in this webinar is not unbiased or unaffiliated. This is a sales pitch."
Dr. Axe does list some of the benefits of readily available and relatively affordable essential oils as he promises in his advertisement. However, this is not hard-to-find information and can easily be obtained through product information and elementary level research. The product information is then subtly but intentionally skewed with emotional sales rhetoric, leading you to ask for more information where they recommend buying the essential oils of one particular company. This alone shows the information contained in this webinar is not unbiased or unaffiliated. This is a sales pitch.
One of the more apparent goals of free seminar registration is to harvest emails for a targeted advertisement campaign for a for-sale follow up class. Now that I've taken the seminar, I am a target market for the Dr. Axe essential oil class advertisement campaign, which aims to take 50 of my dollars to further persuade me into buying essential oils from doTerra, a multi-level marketing company whose sales reps earn a commission on each sale.
Unbiased, unaffiliated information IS available regarding the safer and effective uses of essential oils, but this webinar isn't it. Most learn the legitimate uses of EOs via general study of the more gentler, traditional whole-herb remedies easily accessible through cooking, or making tea. Begin by learning whole plant preparations, and you'll come to see the unique and specific place aromatic essential oils hold in the realm of natural healing.
**The information presented in these pages should not be considered medical advice, and you should always consult a physician before beginning a new regimen to be advised about complications, interactions, or contradictions to your current treatment, or altering your course of treatment.**
**Trademarked terms used in this article are property of their respective owners.**
Webinar trick on March 03, 2018:
Thanks Lee Tea for the valuable information! Yesterday I attended a webinar of deliciously organic, on essential oils for thyroid support. First I thought it was a good thing, but the more it went on I realized they just promote EO from doTerra. In the Q&A they talked mainly about the deals, not much response to requests of people, not interactively in any way. It annoys me because I should have been more critical and I feel tricked. It's written that it's a free webinar, but it's not true. It means that I gave away my email address and now I am subscribed. When I researched a bit, I found Dr Axe's webinar and realized that the webinars are a marketing strategy to get people's email address. In the past, I attended several excellent and truly interactive webinars from my scientific community across the globe. However, the EO webinar was not at all interactive. It also reduced my trust in EO., which is in a way regrettable. Ok, lesson learnt: 1) check out content and producers of webinars critically before registering. 2) do my own research, checking various sources and be critical...
Thanks again Lee Tea for your help!
Theresa on September 04, 2017:
I paid for what I thought was going to be a seminar, & written booklet. Sadly I never saw either !! No message as to the seminar about essential oils, or booklet. With the 60 day money back guarantee, I am requesting a payment back to my card for the total amt. of $254.00. I expect a written confirmation of when I should expect this back on my card.
Nothappyjan on August 22, 2016:
I too paid for the program and was very disappointed with it. I had much higher expectations. It says they offer a 60 day money back guarantee. Don't believe them. I have filled out the return request form twice, sent 8 emails requesting my refund to be processed, and nothing. This is a scam.
Lee Tea (author) from Erie, PA on May 25, 2016:
FTC - select "other" for "Health and Fitness - Products, Plans, and Services": https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/Information
I'm well versed in the lingo used to impulse you on a sale, but no one person could have identitfied the service issues afterwards. Thank you everyone for sharing your experience here and simply just for taking the time to write. I know we're all busy. But, you've created a voice for the little guy here - the consumer public - individuals seeking health and wellness, agreeing to pay money for it, and receiving stress and frustration in turn... talk about your bait and switch!
Jane on May 24, 2016:
I too ordered the $47 promotion. Have only received the book Eat Dirt. Nothing more. Emails are ignored. How does a person report this type of thing?
JoAnn F on May 15, 2016:
I watched the webinar yesterday and bought the 47$ package and it was at my disposal in less than 5 minutes. It is an invaluable resource. I already knew most of what he spoke of in the webinar, but I love having access to all the videos and downloads. Worth every penny! Half you cynics don't know what the hell you are talking about! I've read the entire book 'Healing Oils of the Bible" Dr. Axe was spot on. Maybe you should try reading it sometime!
Diane on May 09, 2016:
I ordered the Essential Oils Transformation Program and paid the $47 and have no access to use the program. They just charged me for it and sent a receipt without any info on how to use the instant access program online....no codes to login or any info except a receipt :( I've emailed them several times without an answer back and called them...which is a joke because you cannot speak to anyone it just lets you leave a message and obviously they don't want to return your calls or emails. This is a total scam!!!!!
carol on April 16, 2016:
I ordered information on oils in feb. I still haven't received any information. Don't spend 47.oo, you won't get anything.
Dedi on January 20, 2016:
How about finding out where "Dr." Axe became a doctor? Has he got any training in actual internal medicine and does he have a solid understanding of contraindications between the chemical constituents in essential oils and medications/medical issues/ages?
I know that another big MLM "Dr." claims to be a 'medical expert,' and 'as a physician he is a well-known expert in essential oils' . . . . but he's a DC, not an MD. Chiropractors are generally not trained in internal medicine and not given a good solid understanding of contraindications like I mentioned above. This man is the company's "Chief Medical Officer" and "Chairman, Scientific Advisory Committee" as well as an executive vice president for the company. I don't need to mention the incredibly unsafe practices he teaches as I'm sure you've seen them as much as I have!
Feel lucky. I've only used a little over 10% of the possible characters I could have ;)
Kelli on November 17, 2015:
Great info!!! hope people read this and I shared as well!
Sylla Hanger on November 17, 2015: