The Dirty Little Secret of Essential Oils Adulteration Revealed by Paul Dean of Native American Nutritionals
This essential oils company profile is a two-for-one deal. I originally contacted owner, Paul Dean, regarding Native American Nutritionals, and soon discovered that they have recently combined with Rocky Mountain Oils. In fact, although he said he was sending me oils from Native American Nutritionals (aka: NAN), the labels on the bottles I received say “Rocky Mountain Oils.” At first I was confused by this, and I’ve noticed confusion by people about this in aromatherapy Facebook groups as well. Of course, I asked Paul questions about this, and hope to clear this up for everyone.
I received products free of charge from Native American Nutritionals and Rocky Mountain Oils in order to write a comprehensive company profile that includes my personal experience with the oils/products. This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the affiliate links, Marvy Moms will receive a percentage of any sale. This does not affect the amount you will pay for an item or service and in no way changes opinions expressed by Marvy Moms or Marvy Moms writers. For more info, see Marvy Moms Disclosure Policy.
Owned by: Paul Dean
Person Interviewed: Paul Dean
Interview Method: Email & Phone
Number of Employees: 25-30
Location: Orem UT
Number of Single Oils Sold: 103
Other Products Sold: Essential Oil Blends, Supplements, Diffusers, Packaging, and Books.
- Neroli (Citrus aurantium)
- Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
- Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis)
What’s on the bottle:
- Oil name
- Botanical name
- Country of origin
- Volume (number of ml)
- Cap labels
- “100% Pure Therapeutic Grade”
- “Caution: Keep away from children. Educate yourself about essential oils.”
- “Native American Certified”
- Website address
What’s in the bottle:
When I sent a wishlist of oils to Paul Dean, his response was: “I love Roman Chamomile and most women love Neroli, so I will send you out 5mls of those and some 1st distilled peppermint.” I wasn’t sure I’d like the Roman Chamomile since German is not one of my favorites, but I was grateful to be getting something from my wishlist that I hadn’t experienced yet. There is something about this particular combination of oils that I absolutely LOVE! I kept them in their own separate container for as long as I could (until I ran out of room in all my other containers) and would go into my fridge and open up the container just to smell these together. I didn’t even have to open the bottles, just the container to take a whiff and get my dose of happy for the day. These are definitely going into a blend together, and the next chance I get I’ll buy a new container just to keep these three separate.
I have a few different peppermints and I have to say that this is probably my favorite. Perhaps it’s because of the pairing with the Roman Chamomile and Neroli, but I truly do love it. Paul Dean sent me some sample chapters of his unreleased book and here’s an excerpt regarding peppermint:
“Purity Test: Here is a simple test for you to do. We have found that almost every single company that claims to be selling Therapeutic Essential Oils fails this test. If you would purchase their Peppermint oil and smell it, much like the Eucalyptus globulus, the highest quality Peppermint oil has an herby undertone. If your current essential oil supplier sells Peppermint oil that has a sharp, crisp, peppermint smell, you are purchasing an adulterated or lower quality peppermint.
Large corporate distillers distill the peppermint differently than one that is distilling for purity and healing properties. Instead of just trying to extract as much oil from the peppermint plant as they can, a distiller that cares for the therapeutic properties will distill their peppermint in stages. This produces different grades of oils. Only the first low pressure distillation of Peppermint oil should be classified as Therapeutic Quality by the Natural Practitioner. This low pressure, low temperature distillation creates the herby undertone smell as well as preserves as much of the “Life Force Energy” as possible. (See Chapter 3 for more information about the Life Force Energy.) Peppermint oil that is redistilled, altered, adulterated, or distilled at a higher pressure will produce the nice, sharp, lower quality oil mostly used for food or fragrance.”
Is Native American Nutritionals dedicated to supplying essential oils to the aromatherapy practitioner market and educated public?
Email Response: “We are very dedicated to doing this and assisting Healers in being legally protected in their use.”
Phone Interview: “Yes, we are very much dedicated to selling to professionals and to the layperson alike.
Our basic target market are people that already know about essential oils that are looking for the highest quality, you know the best of the best, the biggest bang for their buck.
The average person that doesn’t know about essential oils, probably isn’t going to buy from us because they are more expensive than down at the local health food store that have been adulterated with propylene glycol or something like that. They are usually people that have already experienced essential oils and are looking to try something better.
It’s a very interesting industry. If you kind of think of it like a car, there’s a difference between buying a $10,000 economy car and a $1,000,000 sports car. Yes they all have four wheels and they have a steering wheel and they can get you from Point A to Point B, but the experience driving each one is completely different. We are kind of the high end. Even the low-end oils are going to get you good results. I’ve had people that used oils that tested out 80% propylene glycol, but they still say, “But it helps me, it helps me.” Essential oils are so powerful, that even in small, teeny amounts, mixed with all types of adulterants, you’re going to get a benefit from them.
I’m in the process of writing a book. More for the average person that doesn’t know a lot about oils. Maybe they’ve tried a couple, but want to go more specific. We’re also moving into doing some videos. I’m going to be going around to different farms and filming distillations. People can chat with us on the web. We don’t mind guiding people in the right direction. If someone wants specific questions to be answered, you know like, “Hey I’ve got Stage 4 cancer, what can I do?” There are things I can do as a Native American Medicine Man, so we can go into very specifics, but I have to do it in a way that’s not specific with commerce. I can chat with people about their health, not as a doctor, but as a medicine man. So normally if someone really needs to go in and get heavy advice, I’ll call them up at night and we’ll sit down and just have a nice little chat about where they want to go in their health and what they want to do. But being very specific that I’m not a doctor, but I’m a medicine man and as a medicine man this is what I’m going to tell you and share with you. Just because of how ridiculous the laws are.
I’ll tell you just how ridiculous the laws are. There have been some interesting changes over the past decade in the laws, and where the laws actually sit right now, is that if I was to come over to your house and it’s a hot summer’s day, and you open up the door and go “Wow! You look hot, come sit down in front of the air conditioner and cool yourself off.” If I do that, you have just committed three felonies. You diagnosed, “Wow! I look hot!”, you prescribed, “Come and sit down in front of the air conditioner and cool yourself off.” And you’ve treated by actually having me do that. You’re looking at three felonies and going to jail for the rest of your life basically, if they wanted to. People say “Oh they’re never going to do that, that’s just ridiculous!” We have had more ridiculous things happen and it all comes down to the money. I know a friend of mine, he was a naturopathic doctor and all he would treat was Stage 4 AIDS or cancer patients. Just in Stage 4, the doctors have written them off, given them a death state. “If you stick with me you’re gonna be dead in the next eight months.” basically. He would just treat those people and they were getting better and got well. And the medical establishment went after him and locked him up simply because he was taking away their business. And we hear all types of these horror stories.
It’s good to be protected and to have it. Where the laws are at and if you’re a massage therapist and you’re using essential oils on your client, if you’re using it for therapeutic purposes, “Why? what does lavender do?” “Well it helps you relax.” Guess what? You’ve just committed a felony. So, we’re not only about education, but we also try to guide people who are professionals, who want the extra protection. We’ll guide them to the place where they can get legally protected and legally covered so they will not be in harm’s way. You simply become a member of the Native American Church and become a medicine person. The simple way for that is to go to www.oklevueha.org and there you can go and sign up and be adopted, but before you can legally do some things you will have to become a medicine person. It’s not too hard to do. And then you can practice your medicine according to what you’ve been trained in. So if you’ve been trained in massage therapy, you can do that. You can’t go out and do open heart surgery (unless you’ve been practiced and trained by an open heart surgeon, then you can).
The great thing about it is you can bypass all of the federal and state licensing agencies and boards. They don’t have claim over the Native American religion. What’s wonderful about the Native American religion is it’s a religion of emergence. It’s just about you becoming better than you are right now. “I’m going to emerge from the state of where I’m at into a better person” and it doesn’t have any official religious dogma. They believe that whatever is right and true for you is right and true for you. In the Native American church, we have Christians, a few Catholic nuns that have joined and signed up, we’ve got all different religions and walks of life. Your basic beliefs will coincide with the church because it’s all about YOUR basic beliefs. Whatever you believe, you go and do your medicine and your ministry out that way.
So, mostly, we target people that are used to using oils, that want the high quality, therapeutic oil and not have to pay huge amounts for it.”
Is this the same as someone being an ordained minister for protection?
“It is and it isn’t. We used to go with religious exemption, however, there have been some cases in the law. There was one that came up where someone said “it’s my religious belief, this is based out of the bible”, and the judge turned around and said “That’s an outdated practice. You’re going to jail.” They sent him to jail for practicing his religion.
The judge has the right to interpret what your religion is for you. In the Native American religion, there are special exceptions. You don’t have to have any Native American blood in you to join the church or to be a medicine man.”
Is Native American Nutritionals on the small size and not a large corporation?
Email Response: “We are small but growing. We specialize in working direct with the small organic farms rather than the large “expert” run large farms.”
Phone Interview: “We have 12 employees in the office and then a marketing team in another office. Order entry, shippers and bottlers. I honestly don’t know. They’re doing a lot of marketing right now. We’ll probably double in growth, but have the same number of employees because we won’t need as many marketers. Something like 20-30 employees.”
Is Native American Nutritionals owned by an aromatherapy practitioner or essential oil specialist?
Email Response: “I have been in alternative medicine my whole life and my first experience with the power of essential oils was about 30 years ago. I consider myself a Healer and love to assist people in their journey to better health.”
Phone Interview: “Yes, I’ve been using the essential oils for coming up to 30 years, was my first introduction. Aromatherapy specialist? I can buy a doctorate degree online for $100, does it mean that paperwork is worth anything? Same thing with an aromatherapy degree, does it mean anything? What to me matters more than that is someone that is into a healing lifestyle. Working with essential oils. What I’ve told people in the past, does your doctor or nutritional coach look healthy? Do you really want nutritional advice from someone who is not even taking it? I consider myself a healer, I assist people in healing on many different levels and I’m very much concerned with my health. I grew up with herbs and alternative medicine and eating healthy. Most of my diet is fruit, vegetables, nuts, uncooked because that’s the best for my body and I feel the best that way. The more things you do health-wise and health-conscious when you’re running a health company, I think the more credibility it has versus a piece of paper that you hang up on the wall.
My going to school really didn’t teach me about what I’m doing here, but I always had the passion growing up to learn. I also have the passion for numbers. That’s where I have my training is, in math and numbers. So, I have incorporated my love for alternative healing and numbers and business, and it really works well together. You have to take care of yourself in order to take care of others. I have one woman that makes wonderful healing salves that we will probably incorporate into our line somehow. She probably only works for $2 an hour. I tell her she really needs to mark it up a bit. She says “Well then people won’t buy it.” I told her, “Well then if people don’t buy it you don’t have to sell it to them, but working for 8 hours a day for $16 is NOT going to feed your family.”
So, yes, you definitely want someone who is into alternative health, alternative healing, and especially if you’re running an essential oils company, to be knowledgeable and to know about essential oils. That is a must.
Mine all comes in with being self taught, for the most part. I’ve listened to thousands of hours of lectures. I was into essential oils quite a bit before I finally decided that I wanted to use them for the rest of my life. From there I quit my accounting job, took a $5/hour pay cut and moved my family to the town where the “so called” best essential oil company in the world was. And I went and I worked for them.
My job was that I was the construction office manager there, but it branched out to a number of other things. I was one of the 5 out of 100 that knew anything about essential oils. In my safe in the office I had the master key to everything there (I could open up everything) and I was also the OSHA inspector there to make sure they were compliant. And because I loved the oils (and because I’m personable), I went and talked with the farm worker, I would go and talk with the distiller person, I would go and talk with the bottlers, and go and talk with the labs and was seeing what was really going on. From my experiences of what I saw what was really going on versus what was supposed to be going on, that’s what caused me to leave. And I left, but it came down to that I still really LOVED the essential oils and using the oils and will continue using the oils for the rest of my life, I just started out and I went to the top experts and started buying oils from them. I went to friends and family and went to see who else wanted some. I didn’t expect it as a business, but they started telling their friends who were telling their friends and it grew into what it is today.
My real education has come from reading, listening, but where I hold the most value is in my practical experiences. We have had clinics, we don’t currently, but will probably do that again. Practical experience and practical application is highly more valuable than my book learning.”
Do you have relations with your distillers?
Email Response: “I have been working with some small farm distillers (like my peppermint guy here in the USA) ever since I left YL sixteen years ago.”
Phone Interview: “Yes that’s a main thing you want. If you don’t know who the heck you’re buying your oil from, you could be buying from anyone. Not just distillers, but better is to buy from small farms that do their own distillations. Or small distillation companies that will go out and wildcraft. Large distillers normally also have a chemistry department/lab and will manipulate and do things to their oils that you don’t want done. Having a relationship is one of the top priorities.
For example, I’ve been working with a small farm over in Europe that is starting to expand into a bigger farm because of needs. Last year they got their $45,000 organic farm certificate (that’s meaningless). I’ll buy a couple of his oils, and some of them I get better prices from other farms. We are looking at partnerships and doing more with his farms.
We know if they are having a drought so then we know those oil prices are going up. We know the trends and then can plan ahead.
My friend is into holistic gardening/planting and came down the weekend before last and is friends with an organic carrot grower a few miles outside of Las Vegas. They use 18 truckloads of biolsolids from Las Vegas sewage treatment plant. He sprays his fields with all this stuff. I would not consider that something I would want to eat or put into my mouth.”
Can Native American Nutritionals readily supply a batch-specific GC/MS spec report on each essential oil it sells?
Email Response: “Yes we have them and offer up to two free on the oils purchased — you will read in my book how these tests are being hyped up and used to sell adulterated oils by many companies”
Phone Interview: “A customer can get up to 2 reports. We’re going to put them up on our website so anyone can get them for free, but for now we’re supplying them $10/report beyond the first two. They are batch specific.
This is where small farms come in quite handy. You go in and buy all of the oil that they have. They are right now planting 50 acres of helichrysum (50,000 plants). And this is to get oil in three years for our anticipated usage. We went in and bought up our whole entire, what we expect our next year, inventory to be for next year. We get one batch, get it tested, and send it off.
One of the fun things we’re going to have in the future, I’m getting a portable GC machine, and I’ll be traveling around and testing right out of the distiller. This will be for our information. We’ve got good things planned for down the road.
It’s (a GC/MS report is) a piece of paper and it’s meaningless. We’ve discussed quite heavily to add them to the website, it’s just a matter of time. It will be our next thing after I’m finished with my book. We’ve got a lot of wonderful things planned. What we have in place now is great, but where we’re headed in the next 10 years is phenomenal.”
Is Native American Nutritionals readily able to provide material safety data sheets (MSDS) as needed?
Email Response: “Yes we have them.”
Phone Interview: “Our MSDS sheets are not what Amazon wants, but we have them right now for any oil. Those will all be online eventually too.”
Does Native American Nutritionals and do you (Paul Dean) have a strong unquestioned noncontroversial reputation in the field?
Email Response: “LOL I don’t know what they mean there but if she is talking about YL or DT they would not fit into that —sounds like marketing hype — really I don’t know any expert that does not have a controversial reputation because the other companies/people try to stop them.”
Phone Interview: “I have very much controversy against most all of the experts. I came across one person that thought the Native American church was bad.
I don’t know if there’s anything out there, but in the industry, people are starting to find us that are bigger people. I’ve been hit up by a couple of network marketing companies asking to buy oils from me.
It’s a small industry when you get into healing and alternative health, and people are finding me, I’m not having to find them. Like our blue tansy is in limited supply, but our farmer has extra blue tansy, and so we’re going to sell the rest of our blue tansy to a larger company.”
Have you been in the field for a number of years and are you well known to other aromatherapy practitioners and/or educators?
Email Response: “I’ve been in the industry for many years and know quite a lot of aromatherapy practitioners and educators — really I do not want to be known or associated with the “experts” and the marketing hype educators –I did this early on and now I just want to share the truth and assist people not pump them full of adulterated oils and hype — read my chapters and you will know more.”
Phone Interview: “The experts in the field are well known, but they are no one I would trust for buying essential oils from. I don’t know anyone that doesn’t dabble in adulterated oils. We’re just barely starting to being known over the last couple of years. Before that 99.9% was all just word of mouth and we did no advertising. And they were people that already know about essential oils.
Right now we’re starting to get out there with our marketing team. We’re going to be setting the new standard for things.”
What makes Native American Nutritionals different?
1. We work and deal directly with small farms.
2. We care about alternative health, healing, providing the best quality out there.
The energy of the oils. That’s a weird part of the oils and people don’t understand it. We are known by people that use the oils for their energy.
Energy healers say that our that our oils so outshine other oils they’ve used. It’s like the difference of a tomato grown in your garden with your love and care and the tomato that you get down at the grocery store. The tomato out of your garden tastes better than the one that is picked from a field with 500 other tomatoes.
The blue bottles cost twice as much, but instead of holding the energy until it’s cleared (like the brown glass), they reset the energy on their own. We use blue bottles”
In your book you talk about energy adulteration of essential oils. How do you test for energy?
Phone Interview: “There are machines out there that do it, but those machines are testing a certain frequency of energy and they are not very precise and accurate. The healers, reiki masters, muscle testers, can test it and it’s not accurate. The most reliable thing is to go neutral and then follow your intuition.
I would see my mom doing this stuff and would try to manipulate and mess up the tests and what was surprising, was that over the past 40+ years, I came down to (the conclusion that) there are only a handful of people that can properly test for energies and the whole key is being neutral. I would ask them to test if something was good for me. I would say “I think this is really bad for me, can you tell me if that’s true?” and they would hold it and tell me. “Yes it’s bad.” I would tell them “I think this is really good for me, can you tell me if that’s true?” They would say, “Yes it’s good for you”, and didn’t even know that they were holding a handful of sugar.”
What else would you like to tell me? What else should I be asking?
Phone Interview: “People are so about the certification standards. The standards are good, but it’s a way to manipulate the unsuspecting masses into buying adulterated oils or buying oils that meet the standards, but that you wouldn’t necessarily want on your body. In my book I share that I’d much rather have an out-of-balance oil that was grown organically and became out of balance chemically just because of a draught, than a balanced oil (chemically) that’s been grown on some toxic waste dump.
I know numerous, numerous people that have good hearts and good intentions, but they are purchasing from one of the USA’s largest suppliers for essential oils and right on his site he admits that he sells adulterated oils, or synthetic oils too. They’ll say, “Oh I didn’t mean to sell the synthetic sandalwood oil.” If you didn’t mean to, why they heck does he have it? “Oh I thought they wanted that.” I would just personally prefer people to not have that around. Not have it around at all.”
I’ve heard that Native American Nutritionals has merged with Rocky Mountain Oils? Also, when you sent me oils from Native American Nutritionals the bottles say Rocky Mountain Oils? Are they all one company now? Will one or the other be going away?
Phone Interview: “Same company. We took my friend’s company that had great marketing people and my company with great oils and merged the two.
Where we’re going with Rocky Mountain Oils is simplified for the beginner (one type of frank and lavender) and keep things simple for beginner/learner and do more of education on scientific level (won’t go into energy discussion). We will keep it fact based.
NAN will be more for the advanced person. For instance, we’ll have several types of frank and lavender. You can read about different types of frank, distillation process, etc… Just one type of frank from Somalia, depending on grade of resin and extraction method, you can have different chemistry coming out of that.
- Cater to beginner: Rocky Mountain Oils
- Cater to advanced: Native American Nutritionals
We were going to come together as one company, and as we got into that our customers said we don’t want that so we backed out of it. We are coming up with new labels for both companies. We are going to completely separate them back out again since there are two different groups that we need to cater to: the beginner and the more experienced person.
People will know that we are affiliated, and sister companies, and we’ll refer back and forth.
Things will start looking completely different. We know we were confusing the customers and confusing the customers is not good. We know we’ve made some silly mistakes, but we’re looking down the road longer term, and our best option is to keep two separate companies.
The oils are exactly the same, and Native American Nutritionals will have more choices.”
My Impressions of Native American Nutritionals and Rocky Mountain Oils
Of all the companies that I interviewed, Paul Dean at Native American Nutritionals was the only one that suggested that I record our phone call. He wrote, “I would be happy to do a telephone interview — I would suggest you record it because I can share quite a lot of information. I am happy to talk with you and answer any questions you have (products, health, or personal).” In fact, after he offered this I requested this from a couple other companies and no one else was willing to do this because it was “against company policy.” I thought it would be helpful to have a recording to refer back to instead of relying on my notes that I took while we talked. I’m so glad I did this with Paul, because he was absolutely right that I had to go back and reference the recording as I was doing my write up. We spoke for nearly two hours and I did my best to capture that conversation here.
Much like with The Ananda Apothecary, Native American Nutritionals, was also listed on a popular aromatherapy Facebook group as being a company that was not recommended by the group moderator. Her main reason was that NAN has a blend called Arthritis Plus (Freedom Plus) that had some questionable ingredients like White Cedar and Lemongrass. She says that White Cedar is “really called Thuja” and since Thuja is a neurotoxin, it should not be used at more than a 0.4% dilution. In reality, the type of White Cedar used in this blend is Azadirachta indica and does not carry the same precautions. I suggested to Paul that he could clear this up by putting botanical names of each oil contained in a blend on his website.
As we were talking he wrote an email to someone asking to have this change made on his website. It took maybe a few of weeks, but there are now botanical names listed on each blend on the NAN site. I don’t see this change reflected yet in the Rocky Mountain Oils site, but at least the NAN site is available for reference (the blends are exactly the same).
I was impressed with Paul’s willingness to share information and to talk with me. We had some technical issues in the beginning and he was gracious throughout the entire ordeal. He called me back again and again until we had it all worked out.
I like that Paul comes from a spiritual/energetic angle with essential oils. To some this may seem a bit esoteric. As a Reiki practitioner myself, I find energetics to be a detail that is often overlooked and I appreciate that there are companies that have this aspect in mind. I’m guessing too that this may be at least part of why I loved their oils so much and have felt drawn back to them again and again.
Of all the people I interviewed for this series of articles, three different company owners talked about certain essential oils that are chronically adulterated. Paul was the only one willing to go on record with this information. In fact, he talks about this extensively in his upcoming book. I’m hoping that his book will start an honest conversation in the essential oil industry about what’s in our oils and why or if (and how much) we should care.
I’m excited to see how Native American Nutritionals and Rocky Mountain Oils will evolve. The portable GC is exciting as well as videos of distillations. This is a company that is listening to customers (adding botanical names to blends), is willing to share information (even talk in depth 1:1 on the phone with customers), and they are looking for innovative ways to expand and set a new standard. This is one company that I will definitely be watching.
UPDATE: As of July 29, 2015, Native American Nutritionals is now offering FREE Shipping on all orders shipped within the United States and $8 flat rate shipping to anywhere else in the world. They’ve also simplified their return policy and now have a 90 Day Satisfaction Guarantee (certain oils priced over $100 individually may incur a 20% restocking fee).
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