Dos & Don’ts for talking about essential oils

basics of essential oil claimsThere has been a lot of energy focused on the topic of compliant language recently. When I ran a Yahoo! search on the term “FDA compliance” today, there were 6,830,000 results. Screen Shot 2015-07-14 at 9.37.04 AM

To be honest, I’m not sure where to look to find how many times it has been mentioned on social media platforms. Let’s just say ‘a lot’.

While federal guidelines have been in place for quite some time, a quick internet search will reveal millions of hits for non-FDA-compliant product claims.

In 2002, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) published a guide defining “the types of statements that may be used on the label and in the labeling of dietary supplements without prior review by the agency. [1]

The essential oil company I represent uses this document as a guideline for how they want their representatives to talk about the branded essential oils. Note: The guideline is specifically referring to the labeling of dietary supplements.

There were four key areas highlighted in the most recent company policy announcement about compliant language. None of this information was new, but was intended as clarification for their representatives.

1. The Federal Trade Commission requirements:

  • all claims must be truthful
  • claims must not be misleading

2.  The FDA only permits disease claims for registered drugs. By definition, disease claims use the following terms to describe a product:

  • diagnoses [insert disease name]
  • prevents [insert disease name]
  • treats [insert disease name]
  • cures [insert disease name]

    Since essential oils are not drugs, disease claims – even if true – are not permitted.

3. The FDA  allows cosmetic product claims such as:

  • improves personal appearance
  • reduces the appearance of wrinkles

4. The FDA allows structure/function product claims such as:

  • helps you stay healthy and function normally
  • contributes to well-being
  • supports cartilage and joint function
  • elevates my mood

When making cosmetic or structure/function claims, use of the following disclaimer is recommended, “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.”

Sounds like common sense, right?

There is more to the story …  Dos and Don’ts for talking about essential oils (part 2)

Stay tuned.

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  1. FDA publication: Guidance for Industry: Structure/Function Claims, Small Entity Compliance Guide

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