November 26, 2015

Lavender Fields of Deceit?


Lavender Fields from Young Living Farms in Mona, Utah: photo by C. Wayne Fox

Driving into Mona, Utah on I-15 the fragrance of fresh lavender through an open car window is enchanting. Just fifteen minutes from all of the construction madness in and around Utah County, remnants of road-rage and stress fade away as the vast expanse of farms begins to unfold.

From early spring through September breathtaking rows of majestic purple lavender extend like a scene from an romantic French Countryside.

It might seem this must be a labor of love, but in fact these fields are generating mega bucks for one of Utah County’s most profitable  multi level marketing businesses.

One of six farms and seven distilleries worldwide, Young Living Essential Oils (YLEO) is a multilevel marketing company that has been based out of Utah Valley for the past 18 years.

Gary Young, founder and president of YLEO, has a mercurial history. As he tells it, it all began with an almost fatal logging accident at 24, which left him in a coma for three weeks, paralyzed, depressed, and confined to a wheelchair. Three years after the accident he claims to have regained feeling in his legs as a result of using essential oils.

Multi Level Health Supplement Companies in Utah CountyA miracle? A lie? Or a bona fide homeopathic remedy?

Gary grew up farming in Idaho. He started his own farm with a quarter acre in Spokane, Washington. He attended an essential oils class in Switzerland, and then through his travels he learned to distill plants and cultivate lavender and other herbs. Gary began developing his own clinical research in 1985. Subsequently, he bought 160 acres of farmland in Idaho to start mass producing “therapeutic grade” essential oils. The focus of Young’s passion is in “bringing forgotten knowledge back to the modern world.”

Young’s wife Mary is YLEO’s Executive Vice President and the keystone figure in the multilevel marketing company’s success. Distributors get 25 percent off products and reduced shipping, not to mention generous bonuses and jet-setting trips if they achieve annual sales goals.

The oils are considered powerful agents, far more potent than dried herbs. The YLEO catalog features hundreds of single and blended oils, as well as nutritional supplements and bath and skin care products, none of it cheap. YLEO has a loyal, worldwide, passionate following. Utah Valley Business Quarterly magazine rated YLEO as third in the Utah Valley Top 10 Revenue companies, generating $162 million in 2010 with 473 employees working for Gary Young’s empire. Both Gary and his distributors promote a lifestyle of abundance, health and longevity.

Health supplement companies generate $4 billion in annual sales — 4 times the revenue of the state’s more famous ski industry.

The sales are impressive considering “more than 100 supplement companies dot the terrain alongside I-15 snaking through Salt Lake City, Utah, generating $4 billion in annual sales—four times the revenue of the state’s more famous ski industry,” according to Time magazine. Utah’s dry climate is ideal for storing such products and Utahns have an entrepreneurial mindset, not to mention tight-knit religious community that not only offers the framework for building a MLM network, but also the relationships for perfect person-to-person sales opportunities.

I worked for the Young Life Research Clinic Institute of Natural Medicine, in Springville, Utah. One summer day, Young visited his clinic. As Gary takes the stage, his presence evokes squeals of excitement from his adoring staff.

The charismatic Young teaches during the clinic’s lunch hour. After completing a half day of massage, chiropractic, and colonic treatments patients are then offered cleansing drinks consisting of ground lemons and agave nectar, while they sit in a cozy room listening to Gary. Young’s voice is jovial and the hope of healing in his message is easy to latch on to, but outside of this environment there are skeptics and a documented dark side to Gary Young

D Gary Young Found of Young Essential Oils

Con Artist or Healer? D Gary Young – Founder of Young Essential Oils

No medical records exist of his early paralysis and miraculous healing. In 1983 he was arrested in Spokane, WA for practicing medicine without a license, and again arrested in 1988 in California for deceptive advertising.

There were always rumors. For instance, that Young’s wife deceptively received successful in vitro fertilization treatments in order to convince their two young sons to scam barren women into believing YLEO products could help them conceive children well into their middle age.

In 2005, Young closed the clinic due to pending lawsuits, however his prescription for health paired with a connection to the abundance of positive thinking successfully continues to bring in millions of dollars per year from both domestic and international distributors.

“We have strict and specific guidelines we follow.” said Cory Weaver; Director of Global Farm Operations for Young Living. “Only organic herbicides are used to keep the plant properties free of chemical pesticides and pollution. We started the fields with seeds from our French farm, and now grow 180 acres.”

“Over the last five years the lavender farms in France have been damaged and lost due to drought and a virus. This spring we’ll be taking lavender from here back to France to

regenerate what was lost from the same plants that started this farm,” says Weaver.

It seems that same cycle of ongoing regeneration is what keeps users of the products coming back. Whether you believe in naturopathy or not, Young has a way of offering

a different perspective of healing paired with a take-control-of-your-health attitude that attracts people like a pheromone into a complex scheme for health and happiness.

Gary Young refuses to speak to the media regarding his past and has not returned Utah Stories’ phone calls yet for comment.


  1. FDA is scared of him. They can't make money if he has a product that is helping millions of people reach their full health potential.

  2. I am a YLEO (essential oil) user and I bought the Theives oil which did not diffuse in my diffuser. But did prevent me from getting sick for 5 days at a time with just one drop in a glass of water. The frankincense lived up to all its hype, especially for treating metal illness. The Ninxui Red was also a real treat well worth the money and brought me back out of sickness.

  3. I began studying the amazing benefits of essential oils, and then researched the companies manufacturing them. I purchased many oils and had great success with them.

    Say as much as you will about your personal opinion of Gary Young but Young Living oils are the highest quality oils on the market. Young Living is the GOLD STANDARD for essential oils and the other companies I found simply can't compare.

  4. These oils work. There's no other way to put it. The FDA doesn't want people to claim EO's "heal" or "cure" maladies…that's what drugs do. YLEO are not drugs but supplements and according to the FDA it can't be labeled as both. YL is working hard to restructure its advertising to not make claims….even though everyone who uses them knows the simple truth: they work.

  5. This is a worn out record. who doesnt have a past? mistake 27 years ago does not reflect what is happening today. There is no other company owner more dedicated to providing the best in quality and is still there working along side everyone getting his hands dirty. So making money is bad? no one should apologize for success and sharing in it with others. as for the fda, everyone was issued a letter. the company is not the problem, its the distributors making claims are.

    • Victoria, if you don’t mind ingesting into your body known synthetic chemical compounds which in raw form will certainly destroy your liver and kidneys– I suppose you have a right to do that. Where I think things must change is in how YLO and DoTerra are sold and marketed. Reps are able to make wild false claims and get away with any problems the products they sell might cause– because of the current category of drugs or food called “supplements”. I think the FDA needs to get involved when YLO reps tell patients to ingest the oils. At this point the oils are being used as drugs.

  6. I use Young Living oils and have had very good results, and the oils help my family members with so many health issues. Your article is very bias and I don't think you have even tried the oils and supplements.

    • SuMay, The legitimacy of the medicinal value of the oils is never in question in my article. The article questions the background and deceptive practices of D. Gary Young. My wife uses oils too, and they certainly have legit value, but the point is that if companies and reps are claiming that the oils do things they do not do, they are spoiling the marketplace for all players, including reputable companies.

  7. I don't understand why making mega bucks is bad?? Especially if you are an expanding company?? That to me sounds like something is going right….

  8. This is such a Bias article. And full of lies. Probably a DoTerra consultant. Lol

  9. Michael Kelley says:

    It appears YLEO has received at least two recent FDA warning letters.

    It also appears Gary Young has been arrested twice for practicing medicine without a license or similar. His educational background is similarly questionable.

  10. Hey Valerie, do you by any chance have a copy of that article they used to have on quack watch? They have removed it and wanted it for a Freind.

  11. Nickole Erhin says:

    please point out all typos and misspellings. It's been pointed out that your very statement is often a suggested tactic of the company to its MLM consultants.

  12. Ayme Ledbetter Christian says:

    I am so sorry, but I couldn't finish reading this article. There were too many typos and misspellings from a website supposedly started by a former journalist for me to give credence to this article.

    • Ayme, You aren’t “sorry” that you couldn’t finish reading the article. A person is sorry when they have done something unintentionally that might offend another person whose opinion they value. Because you chose to not point out what typos bother you, nor do you wish to specifically say what is misspelled, but instead offer a blanket statement that purposefully attacks the journalistic credibility of the story, you demonstrate that you are in no manner interested in the truth, nor are you a sincere person. I think you are best believing D. Gary Young and all his reps. Stick with the story and attack anyone who speaks or seeks the truth. I just suggest that maybe you ask yourself, “Why would someone go around telling everyone he is a doctor, but refuses to tell anyone what qualifies him to call himself such?” This is a simple question that gets to the heart of the matter.

  13. Valerie, why and how is Raindrop therapy potentially unsafe?

  14. Please do your research on Quackwatch before posting as a reliable source; discredits your point. After believing what I read in Quakwatch about Gary Young it was 8 months later before I tried an essential oil which begany climb out of ill health. You do a disservice to Young Living with this type of non-reporting.

  15. Mynou De Mey says:

    additionally some homeopathic products do not always contain herbs or plant material.

  16. "A miracle? A lie? Or a bona fide homeopathic remedy?" No one – even Gary Young – claims essential oils work homeopathically. I think perhaps you mean "holistic" remedy or perhaps, "herbal" remedy. A homeopathic remedy is the chemical opposite of essential oils – very very dilute instead of very very concentrated, and while aromatherapy may work energetically in addition to chemically on the body, homeopathy works based on a very narrow and specific way where the patient is prescribed the homeopathic remedy which would create the symptoms in overdose – nothing like aromatherapy at all, where the essential oil itself is selected based on what it will heal or help, not based on symptoms produced.

  17. Thank you for your expose. It’s too bad that Young Living is doing all they can to silence Sultan Yusuf Salah in their latest scam and exploitation of a man and his country. The video keeps being removed by YL attorneys grasping at straws. This truly shows the ethics and morals of this company.

    This is the message to Gary Young from Sultan Yusuf Salah that includes the newsletters that Young Living has fought so hard to keep under wraps so people don’t learn the truth of the manipulation and exploitation from Gary Young and this company.

    For the record, there are no grades Therapeutic, Pharma or any other grades for essential oils in the United States. This is a marketing term that the MLM arena has adopted to increase sales.

    You can go here to learn more about essential oil safety and the most recent reports/incidences related to the danger in inappropriate use of essential oils.

    Seek independent education and research for yourself beyond the teaching of a sales company.

    • 1) your link you refer to as “here” in the third from last line of your comment appears to be missing?
      2) most of YL Oils have (or claim to have) FDA GRAS Certification (‘Generally Recognized as Safe’ for internal consumption). By contrast all essential oils sold in health-food stores specifically state “external use only, not for internal consumption.” This is a significant distinction of “grade”, wouldn’t you say?

      • “most of YL Oils have (or claim to have) FDA GRAS Certification (‘Generally Recognized as Safe’ for internal consumption). By contrast all essential oils sold in health-food stores specifically state “external use only, not for internal consumption.” This is a significant distinction of “grade”, wouldn’t you say?”

        No…the only thing that represents is you have a complete misunderstanding of the FDA GRAS designation.

        EVERY lemon essential oil is GRAS – every brand. EVERY oregano essential oil is GRAS – every brand. They are GRAS – Generally Recognized as Safe – for their intended purpose ONLY, and that intended purpose is as a food flavoring. The fact that Young Living does not label their products with the appropriate safety information is not an indication of “Grade”.

        Just like there are certain cosmetic colorants which the FDA has approved for general use in cosmetics, but does not approve the exact same colorant for use on the mucus membranes (like lipstick) or near the eyes. That is because something which may be harmless in a blush or face powder, may be harmful to the eyes or lips.

        Essential oils are legally cosmetics – that is why they are ALL supposed to be labeled “external use only, not for internal consumption” unless they are specifically sold as food flavorings.

        Essential oils may be sold as an ingredient in dietary supplements, but there is also supposed to be a consumer WARNING label. The WARNING label does not mean the FDA has approved this internal use – in fact – it is there to warn the consumer that it has NOT been approved for the purpose it is being sold for. And as the legal staff of doTerra said in their YouTube video – a disclaimer is NOT a “get out of jail free” card!

  18. Mynou de Mey says:

    Thank you so much for writing about Gary Young and the Young Living Essential Oils MLM company that he owns, and operate. Mr. Young has been investigated by numerous concerned citizens regarding the potentially dangerous health claims he makes. We had invited Mr. Young also to respond to some disturbing questions regarding his therapies and the running a medical clinic without a medical license…but of course, we never heard from him.
    Mr. Young is a dangerous individual that has been arrested several times, for operating a clinic without proper license, and for false medical claims. He was also asked by a Naturopathic Association – possibly in Utah, to remove the title ND that is published on his website. You can easily view on many of the Young Living Essential Oils websites – websites from his downline – that the title is still there in addition to false medical claims, i.e. essential oils curing cancer and other life threatening illnesses. This is a quite dangerous dissemination of information to the general public.
    I was looking forward to view the video of the anticipated interview by Utah Stories, but have not seen his response as of yet.
    Again, thank you SO MUCH for your exposé.
    Mynou de Mey – Certified Aromatherapist.

  19. martin watt says:

    Files on this liar Young have been on my web site for years. There is also a review of his first crazy book that shows he knew nothing about the essential oil industry when he started his cult.
    The Young Living files go back years to the old newsgroups. The biggest problem with the Young Living empire is the total lack of interest by the US regulatory authorities. They have been informed of his activities by many people over the years and done nothing.

  20. Thank you for exposing one of Utah’s numerous MLM scams. Quackwatch:
    Gary Young is an uneducated huckster with a track record of arrests for health fraud. He has repeatedly inflated and falsified his education, credentials, and experiences. His inability to recognize the limits of his knowledge and training contributed to the death of his own child. Sherman Johnson, M.D., a medical director of the now-defunct Young Life Research Clinic, deliberately administered a lethal dose of narcotics to a long-time friend, and then attempted to cover his actions by falsifying the death certificate. There is no reason to believe that either Young or Johnson has sufficient judgment, skill, or ethics to appropriately care for seriously ill patients.
    Patients visiting the Young Life Research clinic were likely to waste large sums of money on worthless treatments and be guided away from effective legitimate medical treatments. At best, their life would be needlessly complicated by the prescription of elaborate irrational regimens requiring overpriced products sold only by Young Living. At worst, patients could suffer direct harm from the misuse of essential oils and other dubious treatments.
    Treatment at the Young Life Research Clinic was unwise and expensive. Proper medical care can be obtained elsewhere from legitimately educated, licensed, and experienced health care providers.
    Young Living’s essential oils cannot treat or cure any medical illness.
    Raindrop Therapy is potentially unsafe. Essential oils for aromatherapy use are available from many suppliers do not make ridiculous claims and whose prices are not inflated by dubious multilevel marketing practices.

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