Cancer-cure claims risk legal ire

Sell­ers con­vinced es­sen­tial oils heal, writes Martin van Bey­nen.

Sunday Star-Times - - NEWS -

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.

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