NAD strikes down doTERRA’s essential oils health claims; GSK strikes out on Benefiber natural claim appeal

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

©Getty Images - serggn
©Getty Images - serggn

Related tags Claims claims substantiation

The National Advertising Division has ruled that some claims that network marketing company doTERRA has been on its essential oils products are not supported by science and should be withdrawn.

DoTERRA, which is based in Pleasant Grove, UT, makes claims that its essential oils have mood and cognitive support benefits.  NAD, which is a division of BBB National Programs, ruled that the company did not supply convincing evidence to support those claims. 

'Therapeutic Grade' claim stricken

In addition, NAD ruled that doTERRA’s “Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade” claim should be withdrawn.  The claim implies that the oils are more efficacious than others that do not make a ‘therapeutic grade’ claim.  DoTERRA’s claims were challenged by S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc., maker of Glade home fragrances and products.

Among doTERRA’s claims that were stricken down are:

  • Essential oil benefits are determined by the chemistry of the plants.  If these natural chemicals are properly extracted, they can be used to help you … mentally, and emotionally in your daily life.”
  •  “One way to experience the benefits of essential oils is aromatically, or by breathing them in.  Using essential oils aromatically can offer many benefits; however, it can be particularly helpful for improving or managing mood.”
  • “[E]ssential oils have dozens of benefits for the … mind.”
  • “Along with the applications for everyday life, many enjoy essential oils because of their health benefits, as well as their positive effects on emotions.”
  • “[W]e now have increasing scientific evidence and research showing that essential oils can be effectively and safely used in a wider range of day-to-day practices and routines for amazing natural health benefits.  Today, essential oils can be used for … emotional health.”

DoTERRA said it intends to appeal the ruling the National Advertising Review Board (NARB).

GSK gets only partial relief from review board

Glaxo Smith Kline had appealed an earlier NAD ruling on its Benefiber product.  The NAB ruling that threw out some claims the company had been making on its Benefiber gut health products.  NARB recommended that GSK discontinue “100% natural” and “clinically proven to curb cravings” claims for Benefiber Original and Benefiber Healthy Shape (Benefiber). However, the panel determined that GSK provided a reasonable basis for its claim that Benefiber “helps you feel fuller longer.”

 In delving into the sticky issue of what can be called natural, the original NAD ruling noted that the two Benefiber products in question (not all GSK Benefiber prebiotic supplements use the same ingredients) are made using wheat starch as a raw material feedstock.  Through a complicated process involving hydrochloric acid and enzymes the starch, which has no dietary fiber content to start, is transformed into an 85% dietary fiber wheat dextrin ingredient that is less viscous, more soluble and is somewhat sweeter than the starting material.  That multi stage process and some of the inputs used don’t match what most consumers would consider to be ‘natural,’ NAD ruled.

“NAD carefully reviewed the evidence and arguments set forth by both parties and determined that the processing of wheat starch to yield the wheat dextrin found in Benefiber represents a significant alteration of the source ingredient that is inconsistent with a consumer’s reasonable understanding of a product that claims to be ‘100% natural,’ and recommended that the claim be discontinued,” ​the organization said in a statement.

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