Thursday, June 20, 2024

What Happened to Beer? The New York Jets Partner With FTC Violator, the MLM Essential Oils Platform Doterra

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Just hours after losing star quarterback Aaron Rodgers for the season, the New York Jets push the essential oil multi-level marketing program Doterra on its fans.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. The New York Jets, which haven’t seen a winning season since 2015, bet big when signing quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the four-time MVP (second all-time behind Peyton Manning) who spent 18 seasons with the Green Bay Packers. Making his NFL debut with the Jets last night on Monday Night Football, Rodgers was carted off the field just five minutes into the game — a torn achilles has ended his season and, likely, his career.

The decision to bring 39-year-old Rodgers to the Jets was risky as last night’s injury showed. (The Jets won last night’s game in overtime against the Buffalo Bills even without Rodgers.) But there were other risks, too, namely his stance against vaccines. His public support of psychedelics earned him woo-woo labels even though there’s far more science supporting the use of psychedelics than there is in skipping vaccines amid deadly pandemics.

And as if all of that wasn’t a tough enough pill to swallow, this morning, the New York Jets announced a headscratcher: it’s partnered with the multi-level marketing essential oils platform, Doterra.

Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers used the psychedelic ayahuasca to help heal personal trauma | Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

“Our partnership with Doterra has allowed us to educate the team on total wellness,” Dr. Brad DeWeese, High Performance Director at the New York Jets, said in a statement. “Since incorporating Doterra products into the team’s wellness program in 2021, our players have developed a better understanding of how to maximize recovery, create a better sleep regimen, and enhance their overall wellness routine.”

DeWeeses’s statement reads like an ad (which of course it is): “Adding things like a Doterra diffuser and the brand’s Lavender Oil to their daily routine has allowed the players to relax with a calming aroma after a long day. That, along with other good sleep habits, means they come to practice or a game the next day feeling recovered and ready to maximize their ability to perform.”

In the press release, Doterra says the routine of a football player can be tough and that its products are helping Jets players get “the restful sleep they need before heading to the football field.”

There’s no question essential oils smell great. But the science is lacking on any benefits to curing or preventing illnesses. There’s also little evidence that essential oils can relieve stress, improve mood, or promote sleep.

“Although people claim essential oils are natural remedies for a number of ailments, there’s not enough research to determine their effectiveness in human health,” says Johns Hopkins Medicine. “Results of lab studies are promising — one at Johns Hopkins found that certain essential oils could kill a type of Lyme bacteria better than antibiotics — but results in human clinical trials are mixed.”

The university says some studies indicate that there’s a benefit to using essential oils while others show no improvement in symptoms. Clinical trials have looked at whether essential oils can alleviate conditions including anxiety, depression, nausea, insomnia, and other ailments. However there is still a lack of conclusive evidence.

do essential oils work
Photo courtesy Cotton Bro

That’s not to say that using essential oils doesn’t have any benefits. On average, the placebo response in clinical trials is 35 percent and it can be as high as 50 percent. And, we’re talking about essential oils, which are generally safe (although there are side effect risks, some of which can be serious). When compared to other common fragrances found in personal care items, laundry detergent, air fresheners, and more, which can often contain harmful ingredients, essential oils can be a low-risk alternative.

But Doterra isn’t just an essential oil manufacturer. It’s a multilevel marketing platform that spun off from Young Living Essential Oils — another highly controversial pyramid. These companies exist because of downlines — you sell to your friends who sell to their friends, and so on and so on. There’s a promise of significant, mostly passive, income. Except, that’s not exactly what happens. (Season one of the podcast The Dream dives brilliantly into this.) These platforms can put representatives deeper into debt and erode important relationships after they relentlessly badger their friends, family, and co-workers to buy the products.

As recently as March of this year, the FTC announced it filed lawsuits against three current and former high-level distributors — which it labeled “so-called ‘Wellness Advocates'” — representing Doterra. According to the FTC, the representatives were “making claims that the company’s essential oils and dietary supplements could treat, prevent, or cure COVID-19.” (Reminder: Rodgers refused covid vaccinations.)

nfl-sustainability
Courtesy Shutterstock

Football is no stranger to promotional partners. Would beer giants even be giants without the NFL? The beloved sport is also likely the impetus behind bigger and bigger sports trucks, and, of course, most fast food atrocities (who goes to Wing Stop when they’ve not spent the afternoon chugging beer and chest bumping?).

But essential oils? It’s a bold pivot. And that’s not to say the League shouldn’t experiment with promoting things besides gas-guzzling trucks, fast food, and alcohol. It most certainly should. In fact, the NFL has been making changes on and off the field for both player safety and the planet. Kudos.

Talking about improving sleep and mood is a great conversation to have, particularly for a sport so tied to machoism and indulgence. But is promoting a multilevel marketing company the best approach? Not only is the science lacking, but given the financial risks to Americans still struggling with inflation’s impact, it seems wholly irresponsible.

If the New York Jets really wanted to do right by the health and well-being of its players and its fans, it could have recommended activities like forest bathing instead. There are a number of peer-reviewed studies that suggest spending time in nature can bring all the same benefits purported by Doterra in part because of the natural scents produced by trees. And taking a walk doesn’t cost a thing, either.

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