The National Advertising Review Board (NARB) – the appellate body of the BBB National Programs – has recommended doTERRA International, LLC discontinue a claim to “certified pure therapeutic grade” as well as the use of the term “therapeutic grade” to describe doTERRA products.
The NARB Panel’s recommendation extends to claims that doTERRA essential oils are qualitatively different or more effective than those not classified as “therapeutic”. NARB has also recommended that doTERRA discontinue explicit and implicit aromatherapy claims that promote the health and wellness benefits of doTERRA essential oils and essential oils.
The advertisement in question had been challenged by SC Johnson & Son, Inc. before the National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs.
Following NAD’s decision (Case # 6420), doTERRA appealed against NAD’s recommendation to discontinue some of the examined claims.
DoTERRA essential oils are extracted from herbs, flowers and other plants. doTERRA uses around 60 different essential oils in its products. While doTERRA promotes the benefits of many of its essential oils through application to the skin or their use in food preparation, SC Johnson’s challenge was primarily on aromatherapy claims, that is, benefits that are more diffuse from inhalation, according to NARB Oils are to be achieved.
In relation to doTERRA’s “Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade” claim, the NAD’s NARB Panel agreed that the term “therapeutic quality” conveyed the message to reasonable consumers that the product described provides health and health benefits, a message that is beyond the purity goes beyond. Since this message was not supported, the panel concluded that the requirement for “Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade” should be discontinued.
The NARB Panel also noted that NAD was using the correct standard (well-controlled clinical trials) in evaluating doTERRA’s support for its explicit aromatherapy claims as the claims promoted health and health benefits. These benefits included:
Mental and emotional health;
“Improving or Managing Mood”;
“Benefits to the … Mind”;
“Positive Effects on Emotions”; and
In addition, the NARB panel concluded that doTERRA’s promotional claims imply that its essential oil products offer a range of health and health benefits. However, the advertiser could not support these claims, partly because it did not submit tests of its own on oils. The panel justified this by saying that due to the essential oil variability noted in the record, the advertiser did not provide a basis for testing third-party essential oils or for testing its own products. The panel also noted that doTERRA’s consumer survey, which assessed consumers’ subjective views of the advertiser’s essential oils, cannot be used to provide or even support any other evidence of product performance.
doTERRA stated that it “will be in line with NARB’s recommendations” although it “strongly contradicts NARB’s decision”. doTERRA went on to state that it believed the panel was “wrong” in its recommendations, doTERRA’s claim about “Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade” and the related claims about “therapeutic quality,” claims about “aromatic uses of.” Set essential oils as a category “and a number” from implicit aromatherapy claims. “doTERRA also expressed disappointment that neither NARB nor NAD” “narrowed the scope of their review” but “reviewed the claims challenged in the inadmissibly broad complaint by SC Johnson without giving doTERRA a reasonable opportunity to fully respond.” .