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Published on March 7th, 2022 | by University of Mississippi


University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy Partners with dōTERRA on Essential Oil Research

Agreement expands relationship to include expanded studies on consistency, purity and potency

Health and wellness company dōTERRA and the University of Mississippi National Center for Natural Products Research, based within the UM School of Pharmacy, have agreed to a five-year research partnership that will focus on establishing quality standards for the essential oil industry.

As part of the partnership, NCNPR will study the chemometrics, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and metabolomics of essential oils. Officials from both the company and the university anticipate that the research will result in multiple peer-reviewed, published studies that will serve the broader essential oils and scientific communities.

“Natural products are inconsistent in potency due to normal variation that exists in nature, but that doesn’t give our industry a pass on delivering to the marketplace pure, consistent and potent products,” said Dr. Russell Osguthorpe, chief medical officer of dōTERRA. “We need to pursue scientific understanding of essential oils so we can validate their impact on health and wellness.

“Over the past four years, the relationship between NCNPR and dōTERRA has strengthened because of our mutual commitment to ensuring the safety, efficacy and quality of natural products. Together, we can help to create higher standards that will allow the world to see the true benefits of dōTERRA essential oils.”

The work aligns with the natural products center’s mission to research, develop and commercialize potentially useful natural products, said Ikhlas Khan, NCNPR director.

“We appreciate the opportunity to partner with dōTERRA on this important research,” Khan said. “The growth in essential oils and the results of recent research substantiate the need for higher standards in the industry, so we appreciate dōTERRA’s willingness to invest in the validation process, putting quality and safety first.”

NCNPR is an internationally renowned research center and has been named a Federal Drug Administration Center of Excellence for its research of botanical dietary supplements and training of FDA manufacturing field inspectors since 2008.

Earlier this year, scientists at NCNPR published a dōTERRA-backed study, “A novel approach for lavender essential oil authentication and quality assessment,” in the Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis. The study presents new standards and methods to assess lavender essential oil quality and detect adulteration.

Of the dozens of lavender samples analyzed in the study, two-thirds were found to be highly adulterated and of poor quality, meaning they were mislabeled, had fillers and additives, and/or contained compounds that were of synthetic origin.

“NCNPR’s team of biochemists, chemists, pharmacists and other scientists are expertly qualified and equipped to develop the scientific framework that will define what a quality essential oil looks like,” Osguthorpe said. “They have already done it with our lavender, so there really isn’t a better, more trusted place in the world for this type of research to be conducted.”

The partnership will deliver benefits for the university’s overall research enterprise, said Donna Strum, UM pharmacy dean and executive director of the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

“It is vital that we have valuable industry partners such as dōTERRA to help drive innovation and advance scientific discovery,” Strum said. “With NCNPR’s leading experts and resources, collaborating with dōTERRA will enhance our shared mission of prioritizing natural products safety and efficacy.”

Click here to review the full study published in the Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis.

The National Center for Natural Products Research at the University of Mississippi is renowned for its work in the research, development and commercialization of potentially useful natural products. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services
Ikhlas Khan. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services
A new five-year partnership with dōTERRA will enable researchers at the University of Mississippi National Center for Natural Products Research to study and develop quality standards for the essential oil industry. Photo courtesy dōTERRA

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The University of Mississippi, affectionately known as Ole Miss, is Mississippi’s flagship university. A member of the elite group of R1: Doctoral Universities - Highest Research Activity by the Carnegie Classification, Ole Miss has a long history of producing leaders in public service, business, academics and the professions. Its 16 academic divisions include a major medical school; nationally recognized schools of accountancy, law and pharmacy; and an Honors College acclaimed for a blend of academic rigor, experiential learning and opportunities for community action. Acclaimed as one of the nation’s most beautiful, Ole Miss's main campus is in Oxford, which is routinely recognized as one of the nation's best college towns.

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