School of Pharmacy Partners with doTERRA on Essential Oil Research

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

A new five-year partnership with dōTERRA will enable researchers at the university’s National Center for Natural Products Research to study and develop quality standards for the essential oil industry. Photo courtesy dōTERRA

PLEASANT GROVE, Utah and OXFORD, Miss. – 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.

Ikhlas Khan

“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.

The National Center for Natural Products Research 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

“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 university strives to be a resource and partner for industry. To learn more about the university’s industry engagement initiative, contact Hughes Miller at or 662-915-2885, or visit