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Total Wacko at Total Health Expo in Toronto

Eva Briggs, MD

D. Gary Young, founder of Young Living Essential Oils, was in Toronto on March 20, 2004 to speak at the Total Health Expo. He called his first talk “Hormones and Rejuvenation.” The auditorium was packed with a standing-room-only crowd of his cult followers, who hunched over their notebooks trying to write down his every word, and cheered at Young’s every pause. Anyone with a lick of common sense would recognize that he was telling whoppers that topped anything Mark Twain might have created.

Right off the bat, Young showed a series of photos of old people that he claimed to have personally visited. He inflated their ages beyond the realm of biological plausibility. Young continued to perpetuate the long since debunked myth of Hunza longevity. The claim that the Hunza people commonly live to more than 100 years old is false. The claim that the individuals shown in a slide were 138 and 168 years old is ridiculous, as is the claim that the two men were still working in the fields at those ages. Young also showed slides of elderly women. He claimed that these women had healthy pregnancies resulting the birth of healthy infants when they were in heir 70s and beyond.

In his Toronto lecture, Gary Young showed a photograph of a man that he identified as Cherile [sic], and reported the man’s age as 168 years old at the time of the photo. The man in the photograph appeared to be Shirali Mislimov. (Search for the Oldest People by Alexander Leaf, National Geographic, January 1973, pp. 93 –118). Mislimov was reported to be 168 years old by National Geographic magazine. Young stated that he personally interviewed and photographed Mislimov. However, this is not possible.

First, the Azerbaijan authorities did not permit any western journalists or medical men to interview him because they felt that Mislimov was too frail. Second, Mislimov died in 1973. Per Young’s autobiography, Young was hit on the head by a falling tree in February 1973 and spent months in the hospital, then was paralyzed for several years.

Per Young’s autobiography, he did not embark on his purported studies of health and longevity until several years AFTER the 1973 accident.

Even if one believes the implausible ages which Young reported in his talk, it would not have been possible for the above reasons for him to have personally interviewed Shirali Muslimov. But is it even likely that the extraordinary ages reported for these very old people are correct? Studies conducted after the 1973 National Geographic article debunked the myth of extraordinary longevity among remote populations in general, and especially in regard to the Chinese, such as the Hunzas to which Gary Young referred in his talk and in his promotional materials for Berry Young Juice.

For example, I would refer the interested reader to Age Validation of Han Chinese Centarians by Z. Wang, Y. Zeng, B. Jeune, and J.W. Vaupel. Their investigations showed that the ages of Chinese supercentarians could not be validated, and were often inflated by a combination of poor memory, in adequate records, and failure to double check age claims against available records.

These false claims of preternatural longevity permitted Young to segue into a pitch for his product, Berry Young Juice, made from the Chinese wolfberry and other ingredients. This juice supposedly is based on an ancient Chinese formula that has allegedly been studied by Chinese physicians for thousands of years. Of course, no one in the western hemisphere knew about this until Dr. Songquio Zhao, a “renowned Chinese scientist”, revealed the incredible story to Young. The only references that I can find to this supposedly renowned scientist are in Young Living promotional materials.

Berry Young Juice is touted as a “super-antioxidant” that is “extremely useful for supporting the immune system, liver, blood, and vision.” It ought to be, as it sells for the outrageously inflated price of $55 (U.S.) per liter!

Young next jumped onto the quack bandwagon to claim that legitimate scientists and doctors are all participants in a giant conspiracy. In his talk, Young claimed that whenever researchers discover a beneficial product, the findings are suppressed. By some sort of perverted twisted logic, he states this is done to obtain more grant money. Young then goes on to describe his preferred mode of “research.” His modus operandi is to simply try his latest idea on the next patient who walks through the door. In other words, he boasts of his complete disregard for rational hypothesis testing, statistical validity, or ethics.

Now, you may be wondering, as I did, what did this have to do with the talk’s topic, hormones? In the last portion of the talk, Young went off on a bizarre tangent, claiming that his research showed that young women (teens and twenties) employed in his company had “post-menopausal” hormone levels. The elderly woman that he tested all had “pre-menopausal” hormone levels. However, Young asserts that his pregnenolone-containing products, such as his Prenolone cream, can save women from this pitiful fate.

Throughout the talk, Young often refers to what a wonderful, loving father and family man he is. But what is the true nature of this man’s character? On September 27, 1993, Young was ousted from the precursor company, Young Living, Inc. for fraudulent misrepresentation of himself as a doctor, misuse of company funds to support his personal endeavors, erratic behavior during meetings, and other problems. Court and police records from Spokane, Washington, show that two days later, September 29, 1993, Young returned to the company headquarters with an axe. He attempted to force entry into the company office, removing the doors hinge pins, battering at the door with the axe, threatening and terrorizing company employees and his wife. He had to be removed by the police.

Subsequent legal wrangling led to court action in Utah County, Utah. Several of Young’s family members, his mother, sister, and niece, filed sworn affidavits. These documents reveal that Young was physically abusive to his children, spanking them when they were infants, and kicking them with his pointy-toed cowboy boots. Even his own mother stated that he mentally and emotionally abused her.

For all his pompous hype, Gary Young is not a guru, a scientist, or a researcher. Not to mention all of the police reports and court documents that indicate to most sane people that his character falls far short of what one would expect of a man who claims to be a scientist and humanitarian.

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