THE multi-level marketing platform dōTERRA, built on a bank of essential oils, has arrived in the Philippines. The company, based in Utah and present in several dozen countries, was officially launched in the country at Okada earlier this month as a locally registered product in the Philippines, as were its Makati corporate offices.

The company was founded in 2008 by a group led by David Stirling, who was once an executive at Young Living, another company trading in essential oils (this led to a lawsuit which has since been resolved).

The oils, which come in a number of scents including classic lavender, peppermint, and lemon, can sell between $10 to $50, with some like rose shooting up to $250.

Speaking about the multi-level marketing model, Nicole Stevens, Director, Executive Officer for Research and Development said, “This is done on purpose because the (uses for) essential oils sometimes require some education, for people to understand how they work.” Aside from selling the oils a Wellness Advocate (the multi-level marketer) also enrolls a certain number of people to also serve as dōTERRA Wellness Advocates.

Speaking about their new operations in the Philippines, Ms. Stevens said, “There are a lot of people here who are interested in wellness. They really want to have ways to benefit their families.” With regards to Philippine flora, meanwhile, as a source for essential oils, she said, “It’s possible. We already do source from a number of countries, and we’re always looking at new plant sources and ways to grow them, and places that can supply that essential oil.”

The products are also ethically sourced, with Ms. Stevens saying, “We make sure not only that we are sourcing the very best quality oils, but that we’re not destroying the land to do that.”

Essential oils, extracted and containing chemical compounds from plants, have gained traction in recent years due to their use in alternative medicine, particularly in aromatherapy. In history, they’ve been used for therapeutic purposes, but are better known for their cosmetic use. One can argue that their therapeutic effects can be attributed to the placebo effect (where the mind can be “tricked” into healing the body), but Ms. Stevens said, “No, it’s definitely not. They’ve done some studies on that, to actually show how the brain lights up and how it’s affected when you smell the essential oils. The really neat thing is, there are tiny molecules that are able to go in, and as they interact with your olfactory receptors, they will send messages to your brain. It is absolutely an effect that is real. It’s physiological. We can tell that it’s doing things inside of your body.”

In 2014, however, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning letter to the company. In an article by the Washington Post, which reprinted parts of the letter, the FDA said: “Your consultants promote your above mentioned dōTERRA Essential Oil products for conditions including, but not limited to, viral infections (including ebola), bacterial infections, cancer, brain injury, autism, endometriosis, Grave’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, tumor reduction, ADD/ADHD, and other conditions that are not amenable to self-diagnosis and treatment by individuals who are not medical practitioners. Moreover, your consultants redirect consumers to your website,, to register as a customer or member (i.e., consultant), and to purchase your dōTERRA Essential Oil products.”

Ms. Stevens acknowledged that controversy, saying, “That was kind of a turning point for us.”

“We wanted to make sure that our Wellness Advocates understand that we can’t make claims like that. These are not intended as cures. We had to talk about them (the oils) in ways that are very supportive of health, as opposed to curing disease.”

Ms. Stevens talked about the benefits of essential oils, and in a way, touching on the curative properties of nature. “The interesting thing about essential oils is that for a lot of plants, that’s their medicine for themselves… it’s their way of protecting themselves. It makes sense because humans and plants have evolved and grown together; that that medicine will also benefit humans when they’re under attack.

“These are not foreign substances to us. Our bodies know how to use them.” — Joseph L. Garcia