Cancer-cure claims risk legal ire
Sellers convinced essential oils heal, writes Martin van Beynen.
Some New Zealand-based sellers of an imported essential oil brand are using it to treat cancer patients and believe it could cure the disease.
The Doterra network is expanding rapidly in Australasia, using a multi-level marketing structure where sellers recruit others and take commissions on sales made by those on lower levels.
Rose Scott, of Motueka, and Molly Wastney, of Nelson, were some of the first Doterra distributors in New Zealand. Wastney has more than 1000 sellers on levels beneath her. Scott has 179 sellers in her team.
When contacted, both Scott and Wastney said they wouldn’t openly claim the oils could cure cancer but were convinced of its healing powers based on their own experience with cancer patients.
Wastney has treated a breast cancer patient with a technique called Aroma Touch in which eight oils are applied in layers twice a week.
‘‘I certainly would not say (oils) will cure (cancers). Basically using the oils is giving the body the optimum chance to heal. So I’m not going there.
‘‘I have some statistics where have had those sorts of things around.’’
Scott, also a Reiki practitioner, appears to believe Copaiba, a new oil produced by Doterra, was a potential cure for cancer, ‘‘but I’m not allowed to say that’’.
The potent Doterra oils, she said, were also effective against auto-immune disease, colitis, Crohn’s disease and a host of other disorders.
She claimed the research backing her beliefs was ‘‘phenomenal’’. people turned up
Wastney said she was convinced about the effectiveness of the oils after treating her husband, a farrier, who suffered from chronic fatigue for eight years.
Her Doterra network had grown naturally because people believed in the product.
Cancer Society medical director Dr Chris Jackson said no current research or evidence indicated essential oils were effective treatments for cancer.
He said promoting or advertising unproven alternative therapies for cancer was illegal.
‘‘Anybody recommending them as a treatment or cure (for cancer) should be referred to the Health and Disability Commissioner for investigation.’’
The Utah-based Doterra parent entity incorporated Doterra New Zealand Ltd in May. The New Zealand company is ultimately owned by a company registered in the tax haven Luxembourg.
The pioneers of the New Zealand Doterra network are American chiropractor Martha Nessler and beauty and health entrepreneur Jocelyn Oades, who are based in Auckland.
In 2014, the American Food and Drug Administration warned Doterra about claims by distributors that its oils were effective against Ebola, cancer, autism and other conditions. The company responded by setting up a team to scour social media sites for non-compliant claims.
The New Zealand Doterra network is controlled from Doterra’s Australia office but attempts to contact general manager Teresa Haws were unsuccessful this week.
Chris Jackson of the Cancer Society says there is no evidence essential oils are effective cancer treatments.