As a herbalist, I prescribe herbal potions and essential oils to my clients as a complement to our healing sessions and an alternative to medication. Over the years, I’ve watched herbs help treat everything from PTSD to depression, anxiety, chronic pain, migraines, obesity, rage, and more.
After about five years of experience with prescribing herbs, I started learning about medicinal-grade essential oils—what a game changer. I now use essential oils in every acupuncture session, and regularly prescribe them for home care. They’re like topical herbs—distilled from the same plants I’ve been studying and prescribing as herbal remedy tinctures for years. The skin is our largest organ, and our body literally ingests much of what we douse it with. Essential oils work with our fascia (which lies just beneath the skin), so the healing properties of the plants are transmitted throughout our entire body. It’s such a sensual, luxurious way to ingest medicine.
Essential oils are particularly great for treating common chakra imbalances—more below, along with the most effective oils that I frequently rely on:
FIRST CHAKRA: ROOT — “I AM” — RED
Our first chakra is our most primal energy vortex of psychic information. It’s the foundation of our chakra system. This red spinning disc resides at the base of our spine and manages our most basic needs: safety, security, trust, fear, pooping, survival, procreation. Located on our lower backs, it governs this area, the large intestine, urinary bladder, and kidneys.
When our root chakra is in balance, we feel pretty safe in life and have a healthy sense of who and what to trust, and when to proceed with caution. We trust ourselves, which helps us trust life. We’re neither too gullible nor too guarded. We have confidence, sleep is great, libido is good, we have regular bowel movements—because we’re boss at letting go of all that no longer serves us (literally and figuratively!).
When our root chakra is a little off, it may manifest as fear, insecurities, depression, anxiety, self-doubt, health complications, financial difficulty, constipation, IBS, colitis, or fatigue. This imbalance leaves us feeling like our problems are greater than our power.
The Oil: Vetiver
Vetiver is one of my all-time favorite oils for healing and balancing the root chakra. Extracted low to the ground, from grass, the oil helps keep us grounded. It’s woodsy, smoky, earthy goodness. To me, it smells heavy, like it takes up a lot of space and has a dominant presence of trust and safety. Vetiver is anchoring, nourishing, and replenishing. It’s wonderful if you’re highly anxious, and it’s great in times of change, growth, and expansion.
Here’s where to apply vetiver for ultimate root chakra love:
- Let vetiver have your back: Apply a few drops of medicinal-grade vetiver to your lower back to support your kidneys, boost energy, calm your nerves, and fight depression.
- Apply a few drops of vetiver to your lower abdomen to help relieve anxiety and increase confidence and certainty.
SECOND CHAKRA: SACRAL — “I FEEL” — ORANGE
Ah, the sex chakra! This orange energy vortex resides around our hips and governs our reproductive organs and health. It’s all about romance, creativity, passion, play, sexuality, sensuality, feelings, and relationships.
Happy sacral chakras float, glide, and dance harmoniously with life: Our reproductive health is great, our moon cycles are easy, libido is healthy, and we’re feeling ourselves. We’re fluid with our feelings, our hormones are balanced, our relationships are fulfilling and meaningful, we have a healthy sense of self and sexuality.
When out of balance, we feel like a victim—to our feelings, our life, our relationships. We’re either too emotional or totally disconnected from our feelings. Our hormones may be raging, causing horrible periods, PMS, amenorrhea, acne, or bacne. We could be hypersexual, possibly a love or sex addict, co-dependent or emotionally unavailable. We may be struggling with our identity, feel weepy, insecure, doubtful, ashamed, embarrassed, or inadequate.
The Oil: Ylang Ylang
Ylang ylang has a sultry, romantic, floral aroma. It comes from a tropical tree in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines—smelling it transports you directly to an easy-breezy, sexy feeling. Its floral undertones help balance hormones, boost self-esteem, calm nerves, uplift mood, manage emotional well-being, and increase libido. Treat your second chakra with ylang-ylang to benefit your relationship with yourself, your body, your sexuality, your friends, and lovers!
Here’s how ylang-ylang can treat second chakra issues:
- Directly beneath your belly button are some of the most powerful second chakra acupuncture points. Rub a few drops of ylang-ylang from your belly button to the top of your pubic bone. This will regulate your hormones, increase your creativity, invite more romance and great feeling into your life.
- Your spleen channel is on the inside of your tibia. Massage ylang-ylang in an upwards motion, up your spleen channel, from your ankle to your knee. This will boost your self-confidence, energy, clarity, and inner peace; and help you better express your feelings and passions.
- Inhale ylang-ylang regularly if your feelings are taking you for a roller-coaster ride, or if you have the tendency to lose yourself in relationships. Diffuse it as an antidepressant and to help you remain in the now.
THIRD CHAKRA: SOLAR PLEXUS — “I WILL” — YELLOW
We’re moving up the chakra ladder, from managing basic needs to great desires. The mitochondria of our chakra system—located at our stomachs, our yellow, third chakra—is a powerhouse. It digests information and turns it into food and nutrition for our soul. It’s all about motivation, willpower, and ambition. This energy vortex helps us excel in our careers, crush our goals, get fit, and succeed in life.
A healthy third chakra looks like a healthy work-life balance: Professional success, effortless health, great digestion, and great energy levels. We’re feeling positive about work, love setting and accomplishing goals, are up for a challenge, and generally drawn towards personal growth and self-improvement. Our boundaries are clear, energy is strong—we’re totally winning in life.
When our third chakra is unhealthy, it tends to go one of two ways. At the extreme ends of the spectrum, this looks like:
A) When our third is in overdrive, we’re a workaholic perfectionist with type-A tendencies. We may have a strong affinity towards stimulants and a hard time unwinding or taking it easy. We may prioritize profits over people, have loose stools, and be a little too competitive. While professional athletes may benefit from an overactive third chakra, the rest of us may lose friends and our health over it.
B) If our third chakra is sluggish, we’re likely complacent, lack motivation or willpower, feel totally uninspired, and may have a hard time getting out of our comfort zone or traveling away from home. We may appear depressed. We’re likely overwhelmed/overworked/underpaid. Our boundaries are likely a little off, so we often feel taken advantage of and have a hard time putting ourselves first.
Either way, neroli will help you out…
The Oil: Neroli
Made from orange blossom flowers, neroli is great for digestion and gut health—helping to turn your body into an efficient energy-making machine. It’s also wonderful support for declaring boundaries, helping us recognize our worth and value so we may train others to do the same—without being too self-indulgent.
Here’s how to use:
- Apply a few drops to your upper stomach. Allow it to sink in for a moment, then rub it in circles clockwise around your bellybutton. Not only will this improve your digestion and reduce bloating, it will enhance your mood and energy levels.
- Apply a few drops of neroli to your back—start at the lower tip of your shoulder blades and massage from outer back in towards your spine. You can spread the oil from your mid to lower back—allow your entire third chakra to soak in the love and support, so your life more accurately reflects your priorities.
- You can also sniff neroli, cook with it, or diffuse it. Any which way you use it, neroli can serve as an antidepressant, antibacterial, and an immune booster.
FOURTH CHAKRA: HEART — “I LOVE” — GREEN
We’re now transitioning from ego and physical consciousness to the spirit and elevated consciousness. At the center of our chest is this green, spinning vortex of love, compassion, unity, interdependence, forgiveness, acceptance, connection, inspiration. Our heart chakra governs our heart/cardiovascular health, and lungs/respiratory health. This chakra is all about connection—with ourselves, our people, and our environment. The heart is the great connector that allows us a healthy balance of all that inspires and grounds us, self-love and love for others, giving and receiving. When we are here, we are one with the entirety of life. We recognize that I am because you are, and the way we treat ourselves, others, life, and all living creatures echo that divine truth. Love is not a feeling (those reside in the second chakra), it is a vibration, a frequency, a force that moves mountains.
When our heart chakra is spinning and humming, loving and purring, we’re high on life and want to shout it from the rooftops! We having an attitude of gratitude, generously sprinkling compliments around, acting as a lighthouse and not a sponge. Should someone behave rudely toward us, we’re accepting, compassionate, forgiving. We’re connected to our feelings, empowered in our decisions; our relationships are meaningful and inspire us to connect deeply within. Our heart rate is steady, lung capacity huge, and we’re eager to soar to new great heights, even when it means leaping into the unknown.
It’s when our heart chakras are out of balance that we tend to feel judgmental, catty, jealous, envious, sad, or lonely. We’ll tend to isolate ourselves by either withdrawing, attacking, or being cold or defensive. Chances are we’re not convinced love and pure joy are real or can be attained. Or maybe love happens to others, but certainly never to us. We may experience heart palpitations, shortness of breath, feel dizzy, experience social anxiety, or have poor circulation.
Should our hearts be a little too open or overactive (balance is key), we may place ourselves in dangerous situations, blindly trust, tolerate abuse, enable others in dis-serving habits, and generally be a bleeding heart at the cost of our own well-being, a concept Buddhist Pema Chödrön refers to as “idiot compassion.”
Ready to activate your heart in a healthy, sustainable, totally euphoric way?
The Oil: Sandalwood
Smelling of sweet, sacred wood, this oil has been used in spiritual ceremonies around the world for thousands of years, in teas, as incense, made into prayer beads, mixed into liniments, alchemized into tinctures. It’s a cure-all and an aphrodisiac, and found growing in many places around the globe, fitting, as love is all and love is for all! Among the many chakra essential oil options, sandalwood remains my constant ace: In acupuncture, it’s known to treat the heart, spleen, and stomach meridians. Sandalwood not only opens up our hearts, it also helps the third chakra, so that love may be sustainable, constant, nourishing, and grounding (as opposed to fleeting, harmful, destructive, or inconsistent). It keeps us introspective and reflective, compassionate, thoughtful, and considerate. Its healing properties extend from digestive aid to brilliant antiseptic; it also treats pain, systemic inflammation, and hypertension; and supports mental clarity.
How to integrate sandalwood into the depths of your soul and begin to manifest your dreams:
- Apply a few drops of sandalwood essential oil to the very center of your chest, at your sternum. Massage this enchanting aphrodisiac into your chest, motioning outwards from your sternum (chest plate) towards your shoulders. You may want to dilute it with a carrier oil, so you can slather it on and cover your upper chest from about nipple-height to your collar bone. Surrender to its angelic embrace and experience your heartbeat slowing down. I love to use it before I meditate (and sometimes in lieu of meditation).
- Our heart chakra opens up to our palms. Place a drop of sandalwood in your palms. Offer light and service to all beings. This helps with boundaries, self-worth, and integrity.
- You can also cook with sandalwood, put it in your tea, wear it as a fragrance, or carry it with you to help keep you connected with what matters most to you, and enhance your inner-peace.
FIFTH CHAKRA: THROAT — “I SPEAK” — BLUE
Our blue throat chakra is our source for self-expression and clear communication. It relates to our sense of belonging in the world, feeling heard, valued, and significant so that we’re able to listen curiously and generously to others with compassion. It governs the thyroid, which is responsible for our growth—physical and spiritual. Our fifth chakra helps us self-advocate and advocate for others.
A healthy throat chakra offers us a sense of self, pride, and independence, as well as an understanding of our environment, interdependence, and how we all come together. We know where we end and the world begins, when to push and when to let go. We’re making decisions with clarity and certainty, and considering all parties involved in our actions. We’re unapologetically voicing ourselves, our deepest thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and opinions—and holding space for others to do the same. Many journalists, social-justice advocates, artists, and inspirational coaches reside in their throat chakras, which enables them to put their own insecurities aside and be a voice for the greater collective good.
Should our throats be out of balance, we may feel invisible, insignificant, small, or boring. We may feel like no one is listening and care too much about what others think of us. We tend to be a martyr and take on the weight of the world. It can be isolating. We may have an excruciatingly difficult time really speaking up for ourselves. Often times, we’re either shouting or whispering, and it results in others being so thrown off by the volume that they totally miss the message—which perpetuates this feeling of not being heard. Our thyroid may get sluggish, tired of fighting—whether we’re fighting silently and internally, or shouting loud.
The Oil: Lemongrass
I love lemongrass as a throat opener and balancer. It’s spring-like freshness and sweetness uplifts and awakens the spirit. Lemongrass makes sharing oneself, getting vulnerable, expressing our needs, desires, dreams and requests a little more fun and a lot less scary. It’s a strong antiseptic, immune booster, detoxifier, and bug repellent. Just like a healthy thyroid does, it adds an extra bounce to your step.
What to Do:
- Apply lemongrass directly to your throat. Allow it to uplift you, your language, and your standards.
- Massage a few drops into your shoulders and behind your neck to keep energetic boundaries strong. If you’re acting out of obligation or guilt, it can detox “shoulds” and other people’s judgments and energies. It will help protect you and prevent you from taking on negative environmental energies. When we’re vibing high on our own truth, we’re less susceptible to feeling drained, exhausted, anxious, or confused by the energy fields of those around us. Applying lemongrass here is like creating a force field around you.
SIXTH CHAKRA: BROW — “I SEE” — INDIGO
Many are familiar with the third eye, the indigo vortex of intuition, certainty, intelligence, and receptivity located between our eyes. It’s all about observing things clearly as they are (not as we wish them to be or think they ought to be). Spinning our brow chakra helps us tune into the solutions, silver linings, spirit, and the divine intelligence of our problems, clouds, and circumstances. The brow chakra is seldom surprised, it’s mostly watching, unattached to the outcome of the story.
When in balance, we’re confident in all we know and are unafraid to express our unique perspective and share our intelligence. We’re open-minded and able to relate to most people, situations, and events from multiple vantage points. We’re slow to judge; instead, we observe and collect data and suspend assumptions or associations. We live powerfully in the present and are able to connect to the heart of the matter—no matter what the matter.
When out of balance, we’re confused, hesitant, doubtful, unclear in ourselves and all we desire. We’re likely to offer greater authority to others than ourselves, and our friends are used to answering, “what should I do?” questions for us. We tend to give away our power. Even when we have all the answers, we’re often too timid to share them and keep our gifts to ourselves. We may self-abandon and blindly follow, when in fact, we’re meant to lead.
To feel bigger than your problems, stop projecting fear into the future, and respond peacefully to life, bergamot makes all the difference:
The Oil: Bergamot
The citrus scents resonate with the higher chakras and help connect us with the infinite possibilities of the cosmos above. Bergamot’s scent is like a sweet orange Earl Grey tea. It’s wonderful at helping us attain the neutrality necessary to see things clearly and to connect us to that elevated perspective. It relieves stress and helps us connect with the awe and wonder in life. The medicinal properties of bergamot are endless: It has a healing effect on both our nervous and endocrine systems; it balances our hormones so we function optimally.
*Please note that bergamot is photosensitive so it can burn your skin if exposed to sunlight. For that reason, apply at night, or apply sunblock before going out into the sun with bergamot on.
How to use:
- Apply a drop between your eyebrows, and let your nasal congestion and all that clouds judgment clear away. This helps you remain calm and navigate life with greater grace and alignment.
- For a clean slate: Apply a drop on either ear to re-balance your left and right hemispheres so you feel in touch with your creativity and your logic, your desires, and your needs.
- Add to any drink to improve digestion; you can also diffuse bergamot, or simply inhale it, to stay connected to higher ground.
SEVENTH CHAKRA: CROWN — “I KNOW” — VIOLET OR WHITE
Our crown chakra hovers above our head by a few inches. It’s all spirit—part of our energy body and not so much our physical body. It’s the chakra that reminds us we are not humans having a spiritual experience, but spirits having a human experience. Our crown keeps us connected to our values and helps us prioritize them in all we say and do. Our crown is responsible for that instantaneous wisdom, the sixth sense that guides and protects us. It connects us to our ancestors and helps us receive all the insight they have for us.
When the seventh chakra is active, spinning, and humming, we recognize our path and purpose and design our lives around it. We tend to be more globally conscious and inclined to donate, volunteer, and generally, give a sh*t about how we affect others and how we can use our life-force energy and power to influence the change we wish to see in the world. Making decisions is super easy for the crown—ask, “What value would this add to my life? What value is this adding to my environment?” In general, the crown is all about adding value—nothing less. Think, DIVINITY.
When the crown is out of balance, we’re feeling a bit lost, stuck, or unsure of our purpose: Am I on my path? What is my path? Who am I? What makes me happy? We don’t feel inspired, enthusiastic, or curious. We’re likely stuck in a rut, a bit depressed, despondent, disconnected, disoriented, even perhaps a bit aloof. Life may feel like Groundhog Day, actions fueled by autopilot. In more extreme cases, it’s like the lights are on and no one’s home. When the crown is compromised, most people come in saying: “I just don’t feel like myself. I can’t explain it.” Or, “It’s like I’m watching myself but I’m not being myself.”
Since our crown is part of our energy body, with no root in our physical body, the five senses are the best way to access it—and palo santo can help you do exactly that.
The Oil: Palo Santo
Palo santo is native to the coast of South America and is referred to as a holy wood or sacred wood. It’s been used as medicine by shamans for thousands of years. Many people smudge with it to cleanse and purify the air and homes, to begin meditation or yoga practice, and to call on the spirits to protect us and help us become infinite. It acts as a natural antibiotic, antiviral and antifungal. This essential oil keeps us upright—mind, body, and soul.
I suggest you start and end your days with palo santo:
- Breathe it in to infuse yourself with peace and wisdom.
- Apply a tiny drop to the very top of your head to activate your crown and connect you with your higher purpose (I like to say it’s like coffee for the soul).
- Diffuse it while meditating, to magnify the effects of meditation.
- Apply a few drops of palo santo to your bath to clear your aura, and let it dredge out any remnants of grief or resentment.
Everything Is Connected
Your chakras are powerful, and so are these oils. The best way to fully feel what the oils can do for you is to spend a week connecting with a given oil, and its corresponding chakra. Once you have a feel for what each oil can do individually, combine them and add layers of depth to your practice and self-awareness.
You’ll notice a greater affinity towards some oils and chakras, and possibly a resistance towards others. In this way, they are great teachers and will reveal both your strengths (what we gravitate towards) and your shortcomings (what we resist)—a roadmap to the self. All the oils are helpful, though, as everything is connected. Healing one chakra ultimately helps heal others and the whole.