I hopelessly see the best in people. I defend the callous customer service rep., justify the aggressive flight attendant, even pity the petty thief. (My compulsion for compassion drives my husband crazy).
However, there is one individual whom I can no longer, in any way, pardon: “Dr.” Gary Young.
For those of you who don’t know, Gary Young is the tycoon founder and CEO of Young Living Essential Oils. I need to inhale some lavender oil just thinking about the man. Serenity now. Serenity now. Serenity now!
I used to love Young Living essential oils—frankincense, tea tree, jasmine—but after discovering Gary Young’s disturbing past, I have lost all trust in the organization. Indeed, I am stunned that Young Living’s leadership even allows him to be affiliated with the brand.
Ultimately, it’s only a matter of time until 20/20 does a scathing exposé on this man. In the meantime, below is a detailed timeline of Gary Young’s deceptive and dangerous dealings. As you can imagine, it took ages to assemble. But, it’s worth it if it protects someone from being hurt.
1973: The “Accident”
Gary Young has repeatedly claimed that as a young man he was left paralyzed by a logging injury to the head. According to an account on his website:
“After three weeks in a coma and four months in intensive care, Gary found himself paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair for life, according to the doctors’ prognoses.”
“I had three open skull fractures, and then I got meningitis lying in the hospital. I had 16 crushed vertebrae, 11 ruptured disks, 19 broken bones, and my spinal cord was herniated in two areas.”
It is remarkable considering his extended ICU treatment that no documentation of the critical injury has ever been found or provided. More suspicious still, Gary Young’s story has changed—significantly. He boasts that he cured himself with fasting and essential oils. But his brochure from 1987 solely attributed his recovery to “Oscillation Frequency Stimulation Infusion” without even mentioning essential oils. Hmm.
1981: First Arrest
Gary Young is convicted of a misdemeanor for practicing medicine without a license in Spokane, Washington. He is hit with 30 days in jail and a year-long probation.
Although Gary Young lacks any training in medicine, obstetrics, or midwifery, he insists on delivering his first wife’s baby in a hottub. He left the baby under water for an hour! The otherwise normal and healthy infant drowned.
The coroner said that the baby would have lived if she had been delivered in a conventional manner, yet Gary Young is never charged in the case.
Gary Young’s plans for a similar whirlpool delivery the previous year had been thwarted when a health department caseworker threatened to prosecute him.
1983: Second Arrest
An undercover police officer asks Young if he will oversee a water birth for her. He declines, but offers prenatal care and cancer treatment for the woman's mother.
On March 9, he is then arrested by the Washington State police for practicing medicine without a license, for which he is convicted.
A bench warrant is also issued on June 27. Gary Young is given a 60 day suspended sentence and a full year probation for practicing without a license.
1986: The “Typographical Error”
Gary Young claims that he graduated from the American Institute of Phystoregenerology, but the Institute retorts that he never came close to graduating (he attended only a few classes, completed only a third of the homework, and owed $1,800 in tuition).
Ultimately, Gary Young is forced to admit that he never secured a diploma from the institute and that his brochure simply had a “typographical error.” (His only legitimate diploma is from Challis High School).
The prosecuting attorney’s statement of charges in the case says:
UNLAWFUL PRACTICE OF MEDICINE committed as follows: That the defendant, Donald Gary Young, in Spokane County, Washington, on or about February 24, 1983, then and there being, did then and there offer or undertake to diagnose, advise or prescribe for a human physical condition, or offer to penetrate the tissue of another human being, by means as follows: offering to deliver a baby of another person; by offering to treat another person for cancer and to detect the presence of cancer in another by means of a blood sample which he would draw and by a blood test which he would interpret; and by offering to determine the nutritional needs of another person during pregnancy by drawing blood and interpreting the results of a blood test; the defendant at such time not having a valid unrevoked license to practice medicine.
1986: Mailorder Diploma
On Gary Young’s personal website, it states that “Between 1982 and 1985, he attended Bernadean University and earned a doctorate in naturopathy.” So Gary Young attended university for three years, right? Wrong! Bernadean, is nothing but a mail-order diploma mill that was never approved or accredited to offer any courses or degrees and was eventually exposed as a fraud by the Nevada Supreme Court. Yikes! Even after the “university” was closed, Gary Young continued to publicize his “degree” on the Young Living website and in his self-funded publications.
1987: The Cancer Clinics
From Spokane, Young moves to Mexico. By this time he has divorced Donna and married his second wife, Dixie. Gary Young claims that a three-week stay in his Baja or Tijuana clinic (and $6,000) will bring a cancer patient into remission. A cancer cure could be effected for $10,000.
The clinic also “specializes” in interpreting blood samples. Dr. John Renner, a Board Member of the National Council Against Health Fraud, submits his own normal blood under three different names. The results varied wildly from “non-aggressive cancer cells” to “problems in the intestinal tract” to “pancreatic dysfunction.”
On October 23, a scathing undercover report by the L.A. Times further exposes Gary Young as a complete fraud when a reporter sends in healthy cat and chicken blood samples and is told that he has aggressive cancer and liver problems.
It is also worth noting that one of the clinic “treatments” was laetrile—which can be fatal due to forming cyanide in the body. This practice is strictly illegal.
1988: Third Arrest
Gary serves 60 days in jail and a full year probation for again practicing medicine without a license in Fife, Washington.
1988: Clinics Ordered Closed
On March 3, the State of California shuts down Gary Young’s clinic and fines him $10,000. The State finds that Gary Young made misleading representations, advertised drugs/devices that claimed to cure cancer, and practiced medicine without a license.
1992: Young Living Essential Oils Founded
By 1992, Gary Young divorces Dixie and marries his third wife, Mary Billeter Young. Taking cues from Mary’s previous multilevel marketing experience, Gary Young launches Young Living Essential Oils.
1993: Fourth Arrest
Gary Young is arrested for practicing medicine in Spokane, Washington—again! He pleads guilty.
1993: Fired from Young Living Essential Oils
On September 27, Gary Young is dismissed and terminated as President of Young Living for fraudulent misrepresentation of himself as a doctor to stockholders and the misuse of company funds to support personal endeavors.
1993: Fifth Arrest
Later that day, Gary Young returns to the office, shoves his second wife down the stairs and confronts his son and an employee at the back door with an axe. He is taken away by the authorities. His shaken victims are all issued protective orders by the Superior Court of Washington.
1996: Mother Knows
In a sworn statement on June 19, Gary Young’s mother attests that he is guilty of physical and emotional abuse to his wife and children.
1998: “Studying” in Turkey
Gary Young claims to be studying essential oil chemistry and giving lectures at Anadolu University in Turkey. His assertions are found to be wholly unsubstantiated by Dr. Stephen Barrett.
1999: First FDA Warning Letter
FDA warns of the drug use of Young Living’s Esspro7.
2000: Synthetics Discovered
Dr. Robert Pappas (while a paid consultant of Young Living) analyzes a birch essential oil sample and finds synthetics. Gary Young demands an apology for the results, but Pappas stands his ground.
2000: Young Life Research Clinic
Gary Young opens Young Life Research Clinic Institute of Natural Medicine in Springville , Utah. It offers testing ranging from “iridology, quantum xrroid, and live blood cell analysis.” Offered treatments include bio-electric field enhancements, colonic irrigations, raindrop therapy, prescribed Young Living supplements and oils.
Based on eight case studies celebrated by Young Life Research Clinic (at the yearly Young Living convention), typical treatment is incredibly costly and involves a complex regime Young Living oils and supplements as the majority of treatments. A brief internet search reveals that four months after the Young Living case study presentation, two of the eight participants had already passed away.
Because Gary Young does not have a license to practice medicine, he employs Sherman Johnson, M.D., (a pediatrician who doesn't have board certification) to run the clinic instead.
Before working at Young’s clinic, Johnson’s license was suspended for five years after being charged with a felony for misprescribing enormous amounts narcotics to his mistress. More shocking still, Johnson attempted to cover up his role in her death by listing the cause of death as pneumonia and ovarian cancer on her death certificate. Six months later, police exhumed her body. A medical examination showed no signs of ovarian cancer forcing Johnson to plead guilty to manslaughter. You can read Johnson’s disciplinary record on The Utah Division of Professional Licensing (DOPL) website.
2000: Raindrop Therapy
Young markets his “Raindrop Technique,” a controversial process where seven undiluted essential oils, two Young Living formulated blends, and two massage oils are dropped on the skin—often in concentrations that exceed the recommended safe doses.
Gary Young claims that his Raindrop Technique can treat scoliosis and rid the body of toxins/viruses. There is no scientific basis to this claim. What’s more, there’s no evidence that scoliosis is caused by either a virus or a toxin.
To build clout, Young states that he developed his Raindrop Technique after learning from Wallace Black Elk, a Lakota Sioux medicine man. Black Elk’s assistant went on record to state that that Black Elk did not ever collaborate with, teach any massage elements, or endorse the technique .
Gary Young also insists that veterinarians should use this technique. But still, no data has ever proven that the Raindrop Technique has helped with any animal or human medical conditions.
Take a quick scan through the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapists’ white paper which tears into his Raindrop Therapy in detail.
2000: More Blood on His Hands
A homemade Young Living’s distiller ruptures, killing a Young Living employee at the Mona, Utah, facility.
2000: 2nd FDA warning
On October 7, the FDA issues a letter to Young Living warning the company to never again claim that its products treat, prevent, cure, or mitigate disease.
2000: 3rd FDA warning
On December 20, the FDA issues another letter of warning to Young Living.
2000: 4th FDA warning
The FDA issues yet another letter of warning to Young Living.
2002: 5th FDA warning
The FDA identifies violations in the labeling of Young Living’s stevia dietary supplement.
2005: Kidney Failure
A Young Life patient Anne Adkins sues Gary Young’s clinic for her kidney failure, which almost killed her. She had no history of kidney problems prior to receiving Gary Young’s “treatments.” In a Utah federal complaint, she alleges that Gary Young used dangerous and unproven therapies.
2005: The End of the Clinic
Gary Young closes Young Life Research Clinic without warning or explanation in the middle of seeing patients. He moves to Ecuador.
2015: Lead Detected
A California non-profit whose mission is to safeguard the public from health hazards, independently tests Young Living supplements and finds that 8 of their products contain dangerous levels of LEAD.
Just 20 days following the lead revelation, Gary Young resigns to pursue “personal interests.” His wife, Mary, is promoted to CEO of Young Living. All questions about the CEO switch are now fielded directly to Mr. Dan Rene, the senior VP of Levick PR, who according to the firm website, “specializes in high-profile reputation protection for companies embroiled in tax evasion charges, public crises, or reputational threats.”