The MLM Blame Game

This post may offend some. It may offend my colleagues. It may offend MLM reps. But please know that this post comes from a kind place. There is no intention of stirring the pot or infiltrating drama. The intention behind this post is to bridge a gap that continues to open wider. In fact, the whole basis of this post is about intention. So put the egos aside for a second and read with an open mind.

That being said....

I have seen posts on social media where someone was given unsafe advice originated by an MLM company and had an adverse reaction. Almost always, I see a comment thrown in there that says:

You should sue that rep.

Here's where I have a problem. Intention is key here. Do you honestly think the rep had the intention to harm another person? Do you think she woke up and said, "I'm going to burn some people with essential oils today. That would be fun!"

I don't think so.

I used to be an essential oil sales rep. I had absolutely NO intention of hurting anyone. I honestly thought the advice I was giving others was to support them in their health journey. I studied like a mad woman but I made one big mistake.

I believed everything I was told.

The books I studied from were related to the company I represented because I believed their essential oils were "above par" and didn't fit in the same category as the rest. Even "third-party" texts I quoted as company- neutral turned out not to be. If I had someone asking me for advice, I would look in my handy-dandy book or ask my upline. In doing so, I limited myself and my knowledge of how essential oils worked and the considerations that needed to be made. I simplified a modality that wasn't at all simple. 

The MLM companies have their place in the aromatherapy world. If it wasn't for a rep who insisted I give essential oils another shot, my son wouldn't have reaped the benefits. I wouldn't have gone to aromatherapy school. I wouldn't have been able to help so many people. I wouldn't be where I am today.

The MLM companies have been able to reach people that would never have been reached otherwise. Most of the MLM sales reps I know are moms looking for extra income or natural health professionals selling them as part of their business. Most people don't get into the whole business of selling essential oils without falling in love with essential oils and the intention of helping others in the process. Whether people in my industry like it or not, the MLM companies are part of the aromatherapy conversation. I don't always agree with their advice but I do not feel they  come from a place of ill intent.

BUT MAY I GIVE SOME ADVICE TO THE MLM REPS AS SOMEONE WHO HAS BEEN ON BOTH SIDES OF THE COIN?

1. When it comes to safety, the brand of essential oils does not matter. 

The fact that Wintergreen essential oil should not be used with children, pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, or those on anti-cogualent medications has nothing to do with the purity of the essential oil. It has to do with the extremely high percentage of the chemical constituent methyl salicylate that is found in the essential oil. It's about chemistry, not purity.

Is that to say that adulterated essential oils do not pose a risk? No, not at all. But when it comes to safety advice, it is imperative to realize that the contraindications occur because of the chemical constituents found in pure essential oil. So please refrain from commenting that your brand of essential oils could not have that reaction because they are pure. It is false and misleading. If it's pure, it runs the risk no matter the brand. Do not feel like this will take away from your sales. There are safe ways to use almost all essential oils if properly educated.

2. Know your boundaries. 

While I may hold the title as a clinical aromatherapist due to the number of hours I have studied, case studies I have performed, and assessments I have passed, there is still a lot that I don't know. For example, I was recently presented with a question in regards to palliative care and aromatherapy. While I know the basics of this practice, I have not experienced it with any clients as I work mostly with children and emotional issues. So I referred this person to another aromatherapist who is the expert in this field. I could not in good faith give this person advice when there is someone out there that has much more experience and education on this topic. I know my scope of knowledge and I abide by that. 

I am asking that you kindly do the same. Feel free to support your family or business by selling essential oils. But when it comes to the issues where people need solid advice, then please refer them to a professional aromatherapist instead. Again, this will not hurt your sales. It will actually make people respect you more because you know your boundaries and are showing professional integrity.

Why am I asking this? Because real injuries have happened due to unsafe advice. From the data I have seen, a lot of it has come from people who have good intentions but lack knowledge and training beyond company propaganda.  I know nobody wants to hurt someone else. I know the intention is to help and to share these wonderful essential oils with others. But respect the fact that there are people out there that  have a better understanding of which essential oils would work the best, the potential risks and contraindications, and an holistic view for the individual involved.

3. Aromatherapists are not your enemies.

I am in more essential oils Facebook groups than I can count. One thing I tend to see often is accusation fly that "aromatherapists only say that so we can charge for a consultation." Please know that that is not the case. The amount of free advice given on the internet by aromatherapists is staggering. We want to help people, just like you do. 

The difference lies that we were taught in our professional schooling that some circumstances require knowledge of health histories, medications, etc. This can and should not handled over the Internet or even to someone who does not understand the precautions needed. There are cases where a consultation is in the best interest of the person and it would be unethical for us to insist otherwise.

When I left my MLM, I was scoffed at for going to aromatherapy school. I was ridiculed on social media and told my information was outdated. Studying aromatherapy through professional schooling is an expensive and time intensive labor of love. It is not something that myself nor most aromatherapists take lightly. We have worked hard to understand as much as we can. All good aromatherapists continue to attend workshops/classes and conduct case studies well beyond their initial certification. Please do not insult us as if we are out of touch. And fellow aromatherapists, please don't lump all MLM reps as people who are trying to hurt someone. 

I've been on both sides. I know how easy it is to fall in love with essential oils, want to sell them to your family and friends to help them. I know that warm and fuzzy feeling when your upline supports and believes in you. The feeling that you are part of something bigger and you are doing your part to help your team. I know how being part of an MLM can motivate you to work on personal development and help you to strive to do better, to be better. 

But I also know that I have had clients email me begging for help because someone suggested this EO on their child and that child broke out in hives. Or they were suggested an essential oil that didn't work and felt duped.  Or they have so many essential oils from monthly reward programs and don't know what to do with them. Or sadly, people who have emailed me that they can never use essential oils again because they were advised to use them neat and often.

Real reactions have happened and we cannot ignore that. I cannot, as a professional, ignore that. It is my professional duty to first do no harm. I do not sell essential oils myself. My role in the aromatherapy world is more of an educator. If you choose to be in EO sales, then more power to you. But please remember that SALES SHOULD NEVER TRUMP SAFETY.

We have a lot of work to do in this aromatherapy field to merge together. There will always be conflict. There will always be differences of opinions. There will always be those who choose one side over the other. But it's how we choose to react to these differences that sets us apart.

Not only am I an aromatherapist, I am a teacher at a K-8 school. I teach my students that before they say something, they need to T.H.I.N.K. about it. (Full disclosure- I did not come up with this acronym and I don't know who did. I wish I did because I would give them credit for it and tell them that it is awesome!)

BEFORE YOU SPEAK, ask yourself....

T-Is it TRUE?

H- Is it HELPFUL?

I- Is it INSPIRING?

N-Is it NECESSARY?

K- Is it KIND?

All I am asking is...Keep the conversation open. Stop the blame game on both sides. We cannot talk about aromatherapy today without both sides being in the equation. Show respect. Show integrity. Share with the world these beautiful, volatile, aromatic substances within your scope of knowledge. Be the change you wish to see by assuming good intentions, even if you disagree. And never forget...kindness matters.

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