Summary of Action investigated doTerra International, LLC, a Utah-based multilevel marketing company that sells and markets essential oils, and found that it uses unsubstantiated, and therefore deceptive, health and disease-treatment claims to market its products. Such claims — made both expressly and implicitly — include representations that doTerra’s essential oils can treat or alleviate the symptoms of ADHD, diabetes, PTSD, autism, fibromyalgia, IBS, epilepsy, gout, bronchitis, insomnia, endometriosis, and arthritis, to name a few. collected a sampling of more than 140 examples of such deceptive claims made by doTerra’s distributors, the vast majority of which were made after doTerra received a warning letter from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration admonishing the company’s use of disease-treatment claims to market its products, none of which are FDA-approved drugs.

As a result of these findings, filed a complaint with the Direct-Selling Self Regulatory Council (DSSRC) on October 16, 2019 urging it to take action. On April 7, 2020, the DSSRC issued a decision stating that doTerra distributors had been making unsubstantiated health claims, as well as deceptive income claims, to sell products and promote the doTerra business opportunity. The DSSRC recommended that the company cease using such claims, and stated that it would “continue to monitor the messages disseminated by the Company salesforce on social media and will immediately initiate a compliance inquiry should it identify an ongoing proliferation of egregious, unsupported product or income claims disseminated by dōTERRA and/or its salesforce.”

Two weeks later, on April 24, 2020, the FTC sent a warning letter to doTerra regarding its distributors’ use of social media posts that claim doTerra products can treat or prevent COVID-19 and misrepresent that consumers who become doTerra distributors are likely to earn substantial income during the pandemic.

Then, in October 2020, the National Advertising Division determined that doTerra did not have a reasonable basis for claims that its essential oils provide certain health benefits, including specific benefits for mood, emotions, and the mind. NAD also determined that the evidence in the record was not a good fit for the advertiser’s “Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade” claim. NAD recommended that doTerra discontinue the claims at issue, a decision that the National Advertising Review Board (NARB) affirmed in January 2021.

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