DoTERRA US Founder Stands Behind Use Of Oils For Burn Treatment That Hospital Denies
Last week, I wrote an article about 15-year-old Max Goddard, whose parents were detailing a terrible burn accident on maxgoddard.com. Their original post about the accident has gone through several iterations, starting as a testimonial for the doTERRA oils they sell for a very successful living, and eventually just explaining that Max was on fire, and they took him to the hospital.
Subsequent postings on the website read like a doTERRA testimonial, of which there are thousands upon thousands within easy Google reach. The boy was not making as much progress, there was talk of specific interventions, but they slathered him in oils and he got better. Rather than following protocol, the head nurse allowed them to irrigate Max’s skin with oils, and his condition improved. Miracle upon miracle upon miracle, most attributed to the miraculous oils. Remember that time that his mom grabbed a scalding pot and he ran for the lavender oil? Thank God for the miraculous oils!
But their story is HARD TO BELIEVE.
I contacted the burn ward at The University of Utah hospital, where Max Goddard is supposedly getting treated. For obvious reasons, they could not comment on any specific case. However, the representative made it clear that they practice “evidence-based medicine” and wouldn’t allow “any type of outside interventions that would endanger our patients.”
For clarification, “evidence-based medicine” is “The conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of the individual patient” …Developed by David Sackett, a pioneer in EBP, this definition describes “integrating individual clinical expertise with the best available external clinical evidence from systematic research.”
The thing about essential oils is that, while many people find them useful for many different ailments, there is certainly no clinical evidence based on systematic research that suggests that they should be irrigated onto third degree burns. Even testimonials and heavy-duty essential oil followers will usually say things like “A third-degree burn affects even the tissue underlying the skin and needs immediate medical attention.” The anecdotal evidence does not support what the Goddards are saying that they are doing – how could a burn ward possibly consider testing it on critical care patients? (Answer: they wouldn’t. At least not according to the burn ward that the Goddards say that they are in).
The burn ward at University of Utah, like any respectable burn ward in the United States, cannot take a chance on the unproven claims of an oil salesman. Either the Goddards (who have a huge financial stake in the doTERRA company) were not truthful, or the representative of the burn unit (which has a large stake in following proven methods of treatment) was lying or unaware of what was happening in his hospital. I put my money on the former.
However, Andy Goddard says that the hospital is not telling the truth.
In a Facebook message to me, he wrote, “I imagine that the hospital would deny using the oils for lots of reasons: First, there are over 50 on staff just in the burn unit, and there’s no way for all 50 to know every aspect of every patient’s protocol. Second, they would be opening pandora’s box to publicly admit they allow any alternative method. When we asked them if we could use oils, we had to go through 3 levels of administration, and each did their own research of evidence with the oils.”
OK. But I could find no evidence, not even anecdotal, suggesting these oils should be IRRIGATED onto third degree burns. Maybe one person could be convinced, but to go through three levels of administration, each evaluating the nonexistent evidence and deciding to give it a green light, SEEMS unlikely. Further, a hospital that isn’t going to publicly admit the use of a therapy isn’t going to use that therapy. The hospital would be asking to be sued. I’ve been told two separate stories by two separate people, and I’m prone to go with the hospital’s rep on this one. If their denial is true, Andy is not just possibly making up stories about treatment, but suggesting that the very people who are saving his son’s life would lie so as not to be held accountable for their actions.
AS THE STORY SPREAD BEYOND DOTERRA CIRCLES, the tone of the website changed. There are continuous updates about Max, but the oils haven’t been mentioned in several days. Instead, the focus is on the miracle of modern medicine. Andy explains it thus: “Burn care transitions significantly at the time of the surgery. Before surgery, the focus is preventing infection. After surgery, the focus is to help the grafts take. The doctors have been very open to using oils in conjunction with their silver and sulfa products before surgery, but didn’t want to take any chances with the oils hurting the skin grafts. So we’ve transitioned to using oils on the bottoms of his feet since the surgery.” It’s not hard for me to believe that they are rubbing oil on his feet – perhaps that’s what they’ve been doing all along.
If the testimonial exists, and it does, and there is reason to doubt it, and there is, that doubt should also be readily available for people seeking information on how to treat their own children.
I’ve been consumed with this story over the past week. I can’t imagine going through something so terrible with my own children, and on the flip side, I can’t imagine using unproven medicine on them in a life-or-death situation. I have thought the Goddards were absolutely lying for their own profit, I have thought that they were just doing the best they could in a horrible situation. As best as I can work out, there are three possibilities:
1) The burn unit at the University of Utah is treating Max with these essential oils, allowing them to be poured directly onto his open wounds, and either not everybody knows about it not everybody wants to admit it. This doesn’t sit right with me, but it’s not out of the realm of possibilities.
2) The Goddards have been irrigating the wounds as they said, without the explicit consent of the doctors. I have a friend who was horribly burned in an explosion, and he said that during the recovery period, he had to be drugged just for the cleaning of the wounds, and it was excruciating. I don’t want to believe that the Goddards are dumping pure oils onto such raw, open, painful wounds. I don’t want to. If this is what is happening, they are treating their child as a test subject in the midst of probably the most painful experience of his life, in order to prove their oils work and spread the word to potential buyers.
3) The Goddards are not actually treating him with the oils in the intensive way that they said, but are imagining how they would be treating him, and how well he would be doing. In this option, they are misting him, rubbing oils on his feet, etc., but exaggerated the part of the story where they irrigated his wounds. I think this is the most likely option. As a parent, I feel for them, and I hope that their son will heal completely. Also as a parent, though, this option incenses me. If this is what is happening, they are treating their child one way, and pretending they are treating him by other means in order to convince other people to put their own children at risk in similar situations.
I cannot imagine what it is like to deal with a child with third degree burns all over his body. I want to give the Goddard family the benefit of the doubt and say that the story was true, and that they were just acting on instinct (in their case, a salesperson’s instinct). But now that I have good reason to believe that at least some parts of their story were fabricated, the benefit of the doubt lies in “maybe they believe in their product, and believe in their product so much that they believe that if this were true, it would happen in the way they describe.”
That is best case scenario, but if that is what is happening, it actually suggests the opposite: that the only time the products work miracles is in fairy tales. If the testimonial from somebody at the very top level of the company is based on EXAGGERATIONS, what does that suggest about doTERRA testimonials in general?