“High Vibration”? Essential Oil Frequency Debunked

"High vibration" essential oils: do they really vibrate, or is that just pseudoscience?

I’m a very science-minded person, and one of the things that really grates my rutabagas is when people make things up and call it science. In particular, I’m not impressed with pseudoscientific made-up vibrations, and especially the made-up idea of vibrating thoughts, law of attraction style. Somehow, the notion of essential oil frequencies and “high vibration” oils flew under my radar until I recently stumbled across a pin on Pinterest.

Once I started looking, I discovered that this notion seems pretty well established in certain circles. And, like the law of attraction, it claims to be based in science, when it’s just not.

Various sites I found all seemed to be talking from the same playbook. After some looking around, I realized that it’s because they are. That playbook, so to speak, is written by D. Gary Young, the founder of the essential oils company Young Living. It’s called Human Electrical Frequencies and Fields, and it’s available on Scribd.

Royal Rife is listed as an influence beyond the whole vibration-a-rama. Young writes that Rife invented a “frequency generator” in the early 1920s. That name sounded familiar to me, and sure enough, Rife has his own brand of quackery. Wikipedia says he claimed that a device he invented, often called the Rife machine, could be used to target the specific vibrational frequency of various pathogens and cancer. His claims were widely discredited within the scientific community.


Quack-check: Young writes: “Bruce Tanio [sic], of Tainio Technology and head of the Department of Agriculture at Eastern Washington University, has developed a Calibrated Frequency Monitor (CFM) that has been used to measure the frequencies of essential oils and their effect on human frequencies when applied to the body.”

Fact-check: According to the Tainio Biologicals website and Bruce Tainio’s 2010 obituary, he did a bachelor’s degree in biology at Eastern Washington University. He was not on faculty, much less a department head. Google Scholar doesn’t show any academic journal articles written by him. His obituary says “As a hobby, Bruce was an inventor and a student of energy and quantum physics, which lead [sic] him to invent several instruments, which minimize environmental stress from electromagnetic frequencies.”

Quack check: Young writes: “Young Living Essential Oils laboratory uses a CFM, and another is located at Johns Hopkins University where it is used to study frequency in relationship to disease.”

Fact check: A search of the Johns Hopkins University site yields no results for “calibrated frequency monitor.”

Quack check: Young writes: “Clinical research shows that essential oils have the highest frequency of any natural substance known to man, creating an environment in which disease, bacteria, virus, fungus, etc., cannot live. I believe that the chemistry and frequencies of essential oils have the ability to help man maintain the optimal frequency to the extent that disease cannot exist.”

Fact check: If there’s no actual research cited, that’s a good indicator that it could be made up. Young claims that his essential oils are vibrating at 52 Hz to 320 Hz. Have you heard of the terms megahertz or gigahertz? Yeah, those are exponentially higher frequency units than hertz.

Let’s get vibrating

Young has a very odd definition of frequency: “Frequency is defined as a measurable rate of electrical energy flow that is constant between any two points.”

sine waves of different frequencies
Wikimedia Commons

Frequency is a measure of the number of events per unit of time. Hertz is a unit of cycles per second. In the diagram above, the sine wave on the top is the lowest frequency, and below that are waves of higher and higher frequency. There’s also a distinction between oscillation and vibration; electromagnetic radiation oscillates, while vibration is a mechanical phenomenon.

Let’s talk about what actually vibrates. Some atoms will vibrate between two energy states; that’s what the cesium atomic clock is based on. Quartz does the same kind of thing in old-school wristwatches.

Atoms will also vibrate at a certain frequency when they’re bonded to other atoms. Because specific bonds have specific frequencies, vibrational spectroscopy can be used to detect those bonds.

Then there are subatomic particles, where we get into quantum physics. Measuring things that happen at this level requires very specific equipment that an essential oil company has access to.

Does any of this extrapolate to the human body level, or even to the essential oil level? Absolutely not. Let’s take rose oil, which supposedly has the highest vibrational frequency. One source I found says rose oil has more than 300 constituents, all of which have different chemical makeups with a variety of different chemical bonds. There simply is no greater harmonic essence of rose oil, or any of the other assorted things that are listed. What’s happening on an atomic or quantum level does not mean that we, or our foods, or our essential oils, are walking around with the shakes.

Young’s vibrational frequencies

I have no idea what Young was “measuring” to come up with these figures, but here are his quack-errific numbers:

Genius Brain Frequency80-82 HzFresh Foods20-27 Hz
Brain Frequency Range72-90 HzFresh Herbs20-27 Hz
Normal Brain Frequency72 HzDried Foods15-22 Hz
Human Body62-78 HzDried Herbs15-22 Hz
Human Body: from Neck up72-78 HzProcessed/Canned Food0 Hz
Human Body: from Neck down60-68 HzMelissa (Lemon Balm)102 Hz
Colds and Flu start at:57-60 HzGerman Chamomile105 Hz
Disease starts at:58 HzMyrrh105 Hz
Candida overgrowth starts at:55 HzLavender118 Hz
Receptive to Epstein Barr at:52 HzRavensara134 Hz
Receptive to Cancer at:42 HzHelichrysum181 Hz
Death begins at:25 HzRose320Hz

Step away from the vibration

While it may be tempting to believe things that might seem reasonable intuitively, science just doesn’t work that way. If it’s helpful to think of things like vibrations on a metaphorical level, then hey, why not? The problem is, quacks like D. Gary Young are insisting that essential oils are vibrating the way he describes it on a literal level, which is just plain absurd.

I suspect that people like Young, along with the law of attraction people, rely on the fact that the average person has low scientific literacy and will simply accept what they’re told if it sounds good. But a healthy dose of skepticism can be a good thing, especially when people without a science background start talking about energy and vibrations.

So, I’ll keep using essential oils because I like them, which is a good enough reason for me, and steer way clear of Young Living pseudoscience money train.

You may also be interested in the post Are Essential Oils a Placebo or Something More?

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52 thoughts on ““High Vibration”? Essential Oil Frequency Debunked”

  1. The people who share this ‘vibrating oil’ nonsense are equally split between claiming the frequencies are Hz (audio) and MHz (FM radio). But hey, what’s a factor of a million between friends?

  2. My teacher became very ill and medical doctors had no idea what was wrong with her. They called it an idiopathic lung illness and stuck her on high dose steroids with all their side effects. She then met the ‘quack’ Gary Young who instantly recognised she had black mould poisoning. We searched at home and sure enough there was black mould growing in her bathroom hidden behind shelves. Gary invite my teacher to Ecuador where he is allowed to work with essential oils and therapies with serious illness. There he cleared her blood of the mold with Thieves, one of his blends, other oils and treatments. He basically saved her life when doctors had no idea how to help her. Call him what you will for talking about frequency, the man was the real deal, passionate, creative and caring. Shame on you for using your time to bring down a man that spent his entire life helping others.

  3. This is all scientifically based, you have no idea what you’re talking about. All atoms at the molecular level are vibrating, regardless of whether they’re bound to others. Look up CERN, God particle discovery, what caused the Big Bang, etc. That is your proof.

  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1w0_kazbb_U&vl=en

    keep looking – there’s is sooo much evidence and quantum science (not pseudo) that is showing the impact of frequency on our health, wellness and consciousness.

    hemi-sync patented technology for brain wave synthesis into different states of consciousness (studied by CIA in 50s and proven).

    Essential oils are the immune system of plants – they have anti-bacterial, anti-fungus, and anti-viral properties – proven. They are also anti-oxidants with an ORAC value (created by US DEPT OF AGRICULTURE).

    When a person inhales an essential oil that scent is carried by olfactory nerve cells in the nose to the olfactory system which then sends the aroma to the brain, namely the limbic system, the house of emotions and emotional behavior such as intimacy, passion and sex. Immediately, and depending on the oil, you may begin to feel more alert or more relaxed. You may feel excited and aroused. You may feel the release of negative emotions and/or the soothing of muscle tension. Mood enhancers like serotonin and endorphins get released. This also plays on our hormonal system.

    The vibrational aspect is a big part of it – though the scientific method has yet to develop adequate tools to measure subtle quantum energetics. But there are some doing it – Human Energetics by dr. Ross.

    keep learning

  5. Right – just because you didn’t hear about it, doesn’t mean that it’s not been done.
    Not much funding as you can’t patent an essential oil.

    but the medical industry knows and has proven that essential oils work clinically and in lab studies.

    Antiviral Activities of Eucalyptus Essential Oils: Their Effectiveness as Therapeutic Targets against Human Viruses


    Nineteen essential oils (EOs) obtained from different plants have been evaluated for their potential in vitro anti-H1N1 influenza virus efficacy. Both multivariate analyses and bivariate correlation were performed to better understand how the composition influences the activity. The results evidenced that for the laboratory distilled EOs both rosemary hybrids (S. x lavandulaceus and S. x mendizabalii) showed a good antiviral activity with low cytotoxic effect. Concerning the commercial ones: Eucalyptus globulus and Juniperus communis EOs exhibited virtuous effects on influenza virus. These results were confirmed by the multivariate analyses and only eucalyptol showed a positive correlation with cell viability. On the contrary, o-cymene and terpinolene correlated to the inhibitory effect. Rosemary hybrids, E. globulus and J. communis could be considered as promising candidate to develop new alternative anti-H1N1 natural agent.

  6. I suppose the next thing you will quack-out people like Dr Bruce Lipton, Dr Joe Dispenza and Gregg Braden all of whom have helped multiple thousands of people world wide. Science has a long way to go before it catches up with spirituality. The only scientist worth his weight is the one who does not take grants from Big Pharma.

    1. I have read Bruce Lipton for one, and his work is substantial and remarkable. However, he doesn’t make wild unsubstantiated claims, like Gary Young does. If there is something to the whole frequency thing, then surely someone must have the actual source material. Until that time, people should stop making these unsubstantiated claims.

  7. I found it strange you don’t know about Royal Rife or his work?

    That there’s something to frequencies is not in dispute, but I do agree with you that there’s a whole lot of bollocks being peddled out there, which amounts to nothing of value at all.

    I’m looking to find more details on Robert Becker and Tara Swart’s work. The latter seems suitably qualified, but then again, Harvard is not what it used to be and has it’s share of nutcases these days as well.

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