Essential Oils: Utah's Whacky New Religion

The newest issue of New Yorker magazine explores the exploding business (or craze, as some would say,) of essential oils. The article focuses on two of the world’s biggest essential oil companies: Young Living and doTerra—both based in Utah and both multilevel marketing schemes. If you live in the Salt Lake Valley, you’ve probably smelled the companies’ massive sales conventions wafting from downtown.

Besides the questionable health claims made by some essential-oil hucksters (treatment of brain damage, cancer, autism, Alzheimer’s and ADHD), the New Yorker recounts the trippy history of the companies and their appeal to Utah’s anti-vaccination and survivalist subcultures.

Young Living originally emphasized a spiritual bent under founder Gary Young, who once fired a company COO because “Satan exercised dominion” over the officer. (Isn’t that in the job description for top MLM executives?)

The  New Yorker article is more proof that it takes media based outside Utah to report on the zaniness of Utah’s peculiar culture. After all, one of doTerra’s top execs was the former head of the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the UofU and a Mitt Romney confidante.

Glen Warchol
Glen Warchol
The late, great Glen Warchol passed away in 2018. His last billet was on the editorial staff here at Salt Lake magazine but his storied career included stops at The Salt Lake Tribune, The Desert News, The New Times and others. His stories haunt this website like ghosts in a machine and we're always happy to see them. RIP Papa Warchol.

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