An Anointed Trend? Christian Women and Essential Oils

Note: This excerpt from Christianity Today discusses the market for essential oil products, and touches on a few of the best network marketing companies catering to this niche. Despite the promise of this industry, the article notes the role of hype or abuse that attends this opportunity (and note the companies cited are not free to join), which suggests a opening is available for an oil program to emerge that is a free MLM, and provides better value to consumers. 

…The recent resurgence of essential oils—concentrated plant-based liquids used for their aromatic, healing, or cleansing properties—has found an interesting home among Christian women.

These oils are championed as natural remedies, appealing to homeopaths, organic shoppers, young moms, and faithful believers, who note their use throughout Scripture.

“In the very first image of creation, there’s a tree of life in the middle of a garden. Then, on the very last page of Scripture, another vision of the Kingdom is this heavenly city where there’s the same tree of life…,” said Becca Stevens, an Episcopal priest in Nashville. She found 400-450 examples of ancient essential-oiloils used for healing and anointing in Scripture, from the cinnamon-olive oil blend God prescribes to Moses in to the oils poured on Jesus by women in the Gospels.

Today’s top oils include familiar scents like lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, and chamomile, but there are hundreds of other varieties and blends. Enthusiasts declare a plant or herb for seemingly every ailment, mess, or mood. Menstrual cramps? Try clary sage. Mildew in your shower? Spray a blend with lemon. Even frankincense, one of the gifts famously bestowed upon the baby Jesus, is popular again, this time marketed for its calming and immune-boosting qualities and its light woodsy scent.

Google searches for “essential oils” quadrupled over the past three years, as bloggers and sellers promote the benefits of various oils and debate the best brands—and skeptics voice their doubts. With their use in cosmetics, cleaning products, aromatherapy, and healthcare, essential oils grew to a $1 billion global industry in 2013, according to researchers.

At Thistle Farms, a non-profit Stevens founded, survivors of trafficking and prostitution make products featuring lavender and other essential oil blends. Their lotions, lip balms, candles, and soaps are branded with the motto Love Heals. The company brought in $1 million in 2013, fueled by their inspirational story and the current popularity of essential oils.

Influential evangelicals from Money Saving Mom blogger Crystal Paine to author Shauna Niequist have mentioned their love of oils and related products. Much of the recent fervor over essential oils can be attributed to two major companies: Young Living and doTerra, both Utah-headquartered operations (and rivals) that distribute oils through individual sellers across the country.

The market for essential oils is overwhelmingly female; a doTerra spokesman said that 97 percent of their customers are women, since they’re typically the ones overseeing healthcare in their homes. Plus, many women learn about oils through their friends, who rave about benefits or invite them to Mary Kay-style essential oil parties, where they can learn more about the oils, test them out, and place an order.

doTerra does not have a religious affiliation and does not provide distributors with information on essential oils’ religious history or spiritual benefits, “so they must be finding those things for themselves,” said the company’s senior director of corporate marketing, McKay Brown.

Especially among young women and stay-at-home moms, multi-level marketing has become trendy again, not only with essential oils, but also products like Scentsy fragrances and Thirty-One gifts. It remains a contentious enterprise, as many ultimately lose money in such ventures…