Young Living Violates Lacey Act: What They Aren’t Telling You

Young Living Lacey Act ViolationSocial media is abuzz with news of Young Living being fined by the Justice Department for illegally harvesting rosewood and spikenard. Zealots of other essential oil companies are breathlessly trumpeting this as proof that the only trusted essential oils are those from the inferior companies they prefer.

What the headlines should say…

Young Living discovers—and voluntarily discloses—its own violation of the Lacey Act, further advancing its lead in the essential oil industry and leaving all other companies scrambling to figure out how badly they are in violation.


The strategy of most essential oil companies will be to simply continue hiding those violations. The best option: Stay so small and insignificant that you never catch the attention of the US government.

By they way, any company that is still selling Rosewood or Spikenard is either…

  1. in violation of this act because there are NO sustainable sources for those oils anywhere in the world or…
  2. selling a synthetic (and toxic) counterfeit to nature’s real substance.

Early in 2017, Young Living renamed its bible-oriented Oils of Ancient Scripture kit (formerly called Twelve Oils of Ancient Scripture). The updated kit contains only 10 oils. The missing two are spikenard and galbanum. Supplies that met Young Living’s unmatched Seed to Seal standard had dwindled to the point that Young Living recognized it could no longer keep those two oils on the market. And it sure wasn’t going to sell the diluted and synthetic crap offered by other companies.

And rosewood? It was once a part of many Young Living blends including very popular ones like Valor and Joy. Supply issues around the Valor blend are legendary. One of Young Living’s most prized blends and the foundation of the Raindrop Technique, Valor was in and out of stock for nearly a decade until it was reformulated in early 2017. The original formula contained rosewood and Gary Young was talking about the problem of sourcing true rosewood way back in 2011. Young Living had already stopped offering rosewood as a single so supplies might be stretched to continue the production of blends like Joy and Valor. Joy and other blends were soon reformulated to exclude rosewood, but such measures still weren’t enough to keep Valor from going out of stock for months at time. On the occasions it would become available, it would sell out within a few hours and and then be gone again. Essentially, it was off the market for years. Read Good News! Some Oils Are Out of Stock.

Those who were aware of the exceedingly low to non-existent quality standards of oil companies other than Young Living were appalled that those other companies continued to sell rosewood and rosewood-based products without a care in the world. They were obviously using highly compromised or totally synthetic rosewood. If only their customers were educated enough to understand this!

A Critical Piece of History…

Note this paragraph from the Justice Department’s press release

Peru also prohibits the export of species protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), without the required permits. The Company did not obtain any CITES export permits from Peru. Between 2010 and 2014, a few Company employees harvested, transported, and possessed a total of approximately 86 tons of rosewood, all of which was harvested in violation of Peruvian law.

Getting the Proper Historical Perspective…

In 2000, Gary Young started carving out the patch of brush that eventually became Young Living’s 2,000 acre farm in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Soon, an elementary school was built by Young Living. Seeing this, Peru officials were excited to get Young Living into their country and helped facilitate the purchase of an abandoned rosewood farm.

In 2014, Young Living distributor Artemis wrote:

Rosewood trees are now endangered, and as a result, the Government of Peru has put a ban on the logging and distillation of Rosewood, resulting in a worldwide shortage of true Rosewood oil…

…one of the projects for [Young Living’s 2400-acre farm in Iquitos, Peru] is the planting and cultivation of Rosewood trees. As a result of the relationships that Young Living has been building with the Peruvian Government, Young Living has now been granted a CITES permit from the Government. This permit will approve Young Living for the shipping and exporting of Rosewood essential oil. This means that Young Living will be the only company with a legal CITES permit from the Peruvian Government for the production of Rosewood oil.

It will take many years for the seedlings on Young Living’s farm to grow into mature trees. In the meantime, Young Living’s CITES license permits them to distill the dead tree stumps of previously logged rosewood trees. So Young Living is leasing properties outside the farm, and taking the tree stumps from these farms, to provide the plant matter for distillation. In time though, Young Living’s own crop of Rosewood trees will mature and be able to be harvested directly from the farm.

Gary has just distilled his first Rosewood under this license, and was thrilled to find that it has a whopping 7.9% yield—almost as high as Palo Santo, which is one of the highest yield plants that Young Living distills. That means that if 100 kg of wood from the Rosewood tree is distilled, you end up with 7.9 kg of oil. There are thousands of Rosewood stumps in Peru, which will keep Young Living supplied with Rosewood oil for many years, until the current seedlings reach maturity.

Two distillers have been shipped to Peru, and at the end of August 2014 the distillation of Rosewood oil began on our Peruvian farm.

What seems to have happened here is that Young Living was opening up a frontier where no other essential oil company had dare to tread. There were lots of practical unknowns on all sides, from Young Living to bureaucrats in both the US and Peru. It was only because of Young Living’s activity that certain standards were created. In fact, Young Living helped create some of them.

Back to the Lacey Act…

The Lacey Act is one of the oldest statutes in the country. It was updated in the 1980’s, and again in 2008 to include not just protected animals, but also protected plants.

DID YOU CATCH THAT?! Young Living was sourcing plants in South America before there was even a law to break. When Young Living realized that their sourcing in Peru may not meet the newly created standards, they did their OWN investigation, and then reported themselves—voluntarily—to the Department of Justice and to the nation of Peru. What company does that?!

As a result, Young Living is now the only oils company in the United States with an entire protocol for the Lacey Act. They voluntarily take SPF Global with them for an independent audit of each farm. SPF is one of the top environmental watch groups in the world.

So, not only is Young Living the only major oil retailer in the US with its own farms, it is also the ONLY company to have protocols in place to ensure its partner farms meet the same high standards.

To sum up, other companies selling substances they call “essential oils”…

  1. don’t have their own farms or distillers around which to build quality standards (Young Living has more than a dozen all over the world);
  2. don’t have partner farms that are in known compliance with the Lacey Act;
  3. often-times don’t even know who their true suppliers are because they buy oils from brokers who buy from God-knows-where…perhaps even from native poachers of endangered plants;
  4. may, in reality, be in compliance due to the fact that their substances contain no real plant life at all. Instead they sell counterfeits created from a variety petrochemical drums.

Want a way to simplify your choices of essential oil companies? GO TO GOOGLE RIGHT NOW and find all those willing to sell you substances they call “spikenard” or “rosewood.” That will probably help you eliminate 99% of the companies because you’ll know without a doubt which ones are content to sell you junk.

Links to Additional Info on Young Living/Lacey Act Issue

9 comments to “Young Living Violates Lacey Act: What They Aren’t Telling You”
  1. High-stakes intrigue and on-the-ground insight into creation and enforcement of the Lacey Act. This story make you appreciate Young Living’s self-imposed compliance even more.

    “in 2015…about 90 percent of the wood coming out of the Peruvian Amazon was illegal.”

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