In the 1980s, brochures for Young’s Rosita Beach Clinic in Tijuana, Mexico, indicated that he had graduated from the American Institute of Physioregenerology (which taught therapeutic massage). In a column for the Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Washington) on October 28, 1986, Doug Clark wrote that the founder and operator of that institute said that Young falsely claimed that he graduated, only took a few classes, did only a third of the homework, owed $1,000 in tuition, and said: “To be honest, I’d hesitate to have anybody go to him for any kind of therapy.” According to Clark, Young said he owed nothing but admitted not graduating and characterized the false claim in the brochures as a “typographical error.”
According to his personal achievements page on his website in 2017, D. Gary Young studied various science subjects and the historical significance of essential oils in various countries and universities. The page indicated that he attended Bernadean University between 1982 and 1985 and earned a doctorate in naturopathy. But Bernadean University was a mail-order diploma mill, which had never been authorized to operate or to grant degrees.
Another listed achievement was that he received a humanitarian award from the State Medical Examiner’s office of Baja, California, in 1985 after opening a “natural healing research clinic” and having “designed and built advanced equipment for essential oil distillation that has garnered reviews from authorities… .” However, the page didn’t mention that on August 17, 2000, as documented by the Utah Occupational Safety and Health Division (UOSHD), one of his homemade distillers ruptured at the lid, fatally wounding a worker at Young Living Farms in Mona, Utah, a 1,000-acre farm where plants were cultivated for essential oil extraction using a steam distillation process. Young Living Farms was fined a total of $10,280 for seven safety violations. UOSHD reported: “The entire operation was designed by Gary Young President and built on site. The vessels were not built under any consideration to ASME [American Society of Mechanical Engineers] code for pressure vessels. No type of pressure relief device was installed on any of the vessels.”
According to his biography page from 2017, he earned a degree in nutrition before he earned his Bernadean doctorate, but the specific degree or institution that supposedly conferred the degree is not mentioned. A nutrition degree is not mentioned at all on his 2017 personal achievements page. It is unclear, then, if he earned any degrees from any respectably accredited institutions.
The biography page also reported that at age twenty-four he had suffered a nearly fatal logging accident that left him in a coma for three weeks. It says he was paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair, which launched him on a lifelong personal journey to take back control of his life. It says that when he regained feeling in his lower body three years after the accident, he began researching and using essential oils to alleviate his pain. Eventually, as the story goes, he regained all feeling and mobility and ran a half marathon thirteen years after the accident. Of course, the story ends with victory over adversity: “And Gary Young decided to share his experience of the healing properties of essential oils with the world.”
Young’s current website provides a list of fifteen reference citations to published research papers he coauthored. While he has a record as a coauthor (never as senior author) of research papers in scientific and medical journals, it isn’t clear to me what role he had in any of the research or how his roles could establish him as an expert in therapeutic uses of essential oils. I reviewed each of the papers he coauthored. I see nothing in them that established him as having expertise regarding use of essential oils for therapeutic purposes. None of the papers provide evidence to support his Raindrop Technique or any other approach to therapeutic use of essential oils. My comments about each of the papers are in an appendix following this column.
Pre-clinical research papers similar to Young’s are sometimes given press coverage. HealthNewsReview.org warned in 2017 that consumers are poorly served by press reports about essential oils that rely only on preliminary evidence to support claims and that use sources with conflicts of interest.