Roseman University Researchers Study dōTERRA Essential Oils

October 3, 2018

Last month, before a crowd of 30,000 attendees gathered at the dōTERRA Annual Global Convention at the Vivint SmartHome Arena and Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Drs. Tim Le and Jeffrey Talbot from the College of Pharmacy shared recent findings from a study of essential oils conducted by Roseman University researchers.

In what is believed to be a first-of-kind deep dive into the systems biological approach to assessing the effects and quality of essential oils, an interdisciplinary team of Roseman University researchers have observed a consistent phenomenon they have come to call “The Oil Effect.”

According to Dr. Talbot, over the past two years independently and unbeknownst to dōTERRA, the Roseman team purchased dōTERRA essential oils and began testing them in research models, including those investigating metabolism, oral health, and antioxidant properties of the oils.  In sharing the results, Dr. Talbot says, “We found that each of the dōTERRA oils had quantifiable and reproducible biological activity. To our surprise, however, was that we could not replicate the biological effects by breaking down the oil and administering its purified constituents. In a sense, we tried to synthetically build identical essential oils, with no success.”

In the collection of studies, the Roseman University team observed “The Oil Effect”: that the dōTERRA essential oils tested have therapeutically-relevant cellular effects in many physiological, scientifically-validated research models. They also observed that the effects of dōTERRA essential oils were not replicated by administration of individual components within the oil itself, suggesting that the biological effects of dōTERRA essential oils are a property of the whole oil.

These observations were presented to dōTERRA and the company subsequently awarded $128,000 in grant funding to advance Roseman University’s research of “The Oil Effect.”

Tapping the expertise of Roseman University College of Pharmacy’s Dr. Tim Le and post-doctoral researcher Dr. Yasuyo Urasaki, “The Oil Effect” was subjected to more advanced and rigorous testing to further characterize the cellular effects of essential oils utilizing nanofluidic proteomics to study the molecular fingerprinting of essential oils by proteomic profiling.

Dr. Le explains, “proteomics is the large-scale study of proteins and their activity in the body. Simply put, protein activity is the basis of health, and in many cases, disease. Utilizing a highly sensitive process, all proteins in a cell are separated by electric charges.  We then use very specific antibodies to look for changes in the proteins that regulate their enzymatic activity.”

The technology allowed Dr. Le and his research team to observe the effects of essential oils on proteins at the molecular level through signaling.

At the dōTERRA Annual Global Meeting, Drs. Le and Talbot shared that the findings from the molecular profiling of essential oils by nanofluidic proteomics confirmed that dōTERRA potently induced therapeutically-relevant signaling pathways in cell growth and rejuvenation, metabolic health, and healthy inflammatory responses. These proteomic profiling studies further confirmed that the effects of dōTERRA essential oils were not replicated by a single major component and essential oils from different competitors had minimal effects.

The results of the research indicate that the implications of “The Oil Effect” are significant, says Dr. Le.  His studies suggest that the quality of essential oils is the combination of chemistry and biochemistry, and that biochemical analytics are required to fully assess the quality of essential oils.

Dr. Talbot adds that the therapeutic potential of essential oils is highly dependent on the complete composition of the oil. Sourcing, processing and characterization are critical.

“Dr. Le’s data suggest that human cells know the difference between a naturally sourced oil and an adulterated or synthetically constructed oil and that this difference can be detected using the cell’s own physiology,” said Dr. Talbot. “In this sense, Dr. Le’s methodology and approach represent a biochemical lie detector test, a physiological polygraph.”

Finally, in providing a qualitative assessment, Dr. Le says molecular and proteomic profiling provides a rapid, high-throughput platform to screen quality and efficacy of essential oils. “If we are correct, this is the first study of essential oils of its kind to utilize the body’s own biochemistry to characterize the quality of essential oils”

The research of dōTERRA and other essential oils will continue at Roseman University as part of the College of Pharmacy’s exploration of therapeutic potential of nutraceuticals.

Jason Roth
Vice President, Communications
Roseman University of Health Sciences