Anxiety, Solar Plexus and Essential Oil
Copyright 2010 by Joseph Ben Hil-Meyer Research, Inc.
By Bruce Berkowsky, N.M.D., M.H., NCTMB
Please note: The information presented herein, including ailment-related comments, are for informational purposes only; health concern matters require supervision by a physician. The author, publisher and others associated with this article cannot be responsible for the misuse of information herein.
These are difficult times. The ground is continuously shifting under our feet and the territory of the hallowed and the sacred is shrinking more rapidly than the glaciers.
Then there is the issue of the speeding up of time. My first decade of life was the 1950's. I remember the comforting consistency of those times, playing baseball in summer, putting the glove away and getting out the football after the school year began anew, mostly the same kids in my class from 1st grade through 6th, Walter Cronkite delivering the news each weeknight and Ed Sullivan delivering the entertainment for twenty years of Sunday nights.
In this era of disappearing species, high speed internet, hip hop noise, espresso stands and fast food family dinners, sensitive souls are plagued by the sense that time is running out. It is do or die. Or at least do or never achieve wholeness of being via actualization of one's authentic self.
In Freeing The Soul From Fear by Robert Sardello, Ph.D. writes: "The change in our feeling of time--that time is now speeding up--results from an imbalance between duration and tempo.
Duration decreases, while tempo increases...The soul requires duration of time--rich, thick, deep, velvety time--and it thrives on rhythm. Soul can't be hurried or harried. It has to take in events slowly, ruminating over them, turning them into its own experience.
When the soul is instead bombarded with a rapid sequence of events that have little depth, another kind of fear enters soul life. We experience this fear as 'time is running out'...For the soul to be deprived of duration and tempo takes away its capacity for expression in the world. We live in temporal anxiety, as if we are about to come to some unknown abrupt end."
Anxiety has become a progressively widening bandwidth within the spectrum of neurotic symptoms. Nearly everyone for whom I am asked to prepare a custom essential oil blend reports experiencing varying degrees of anxiety. For some, anxiety is just an irritating ripple in the sea of their consciousness. For others, it has hypertrophied into a pounding surf that is eroding the bedrock of their sanity.
So how can we quell the rising panic and maintain focus on the light, rather than a preoccupation with the looming darkness of insecurity and discontent?
As both a naturopath and the founder of the art of Spiritual PhytoEssencing, I view symptoms such as anxiety through the lense of the physical as well as the psycho-spiritual. Ultimately, these two levels of being are indivisible. However, given that this is The Journal Of Spiritual PhytoEssencing, the discussion that follows will focus primarily on the amelioration of anxiety via soul level healing work with essential oils.
Essentially, anxiety is a persistent, exaggerated state of worry and tension that is often experienced as a foreboding of some imminent, but usually ill-defined, misfortune. Most of the time, the worry is illogically out of proportion to the situation that inspires it.
The difference between fear and anxiety is that while the former is an effect elicited by a specific causative factor, the latter, while sometimes aroused by a broad spectrum of activities and events, frequently manifests when there is little or nothing to evoke it.
One of the hallmarks of anxiety is that the individual has a great deal of difficulty controlling the propensity to worry and tension. They can't shake off their concerns and so these can build to a distressing fever pitch. Hence, there is an ongoing struggle to regain control of oneself, to be able to relax, and to establish an effective coping mechanism.
While anxiety is often associated with a specific mental disorder such as clinical depression, it commonly presents independent of any other emotional irregularity. Some of the symptoms associated with anxiety include: feels wound-up and tense; restlessness – always on edge; psychological and physical arousal; negative thoughts and feelings; depression; easily becomes fatigued and worn-out; difficulty concentrating; inward focus of attention; irritability; anger alternating with fear; sleep difficulties (difficulty falling or staying asleep; restless, unsatisfying sleep) tense, unpleasant dreams; trembling; twitching; headache; difficulty swallowing; heart palpitations or rapid heart rate; shortness of breath; stomach and/or intestinal distress; digestive weakness; hiatus hernia; muscle tension and muscle pain; sweating; hot flashes.
Other symptoms which may be either contributory to, or a product of, generalized anxiety include: panic disorders; agoraphobia; environmental sensitivities which border on phobias; phobias about being in public with other people; post-traumatic stress disorder; obsessive-compulsive behavior.
Solar Plexus Chakra
The solar plexus consists of a great network of ganglia and nerves situated behind the stomach that supplies all the viscera in the abdominal cavity. The various nerve plexuses that arise from the solar plexus ultimately innervate the adrenal glands, kidneys, stomach, liver, gall bladder, spleen, intestines and pelvic organs.
According to the yogic and Ayurvedic traditions, there are seven chakras, force centers or whirling vortices of energy which permeate both the physical body and the formative, non-physical, subtle bodies, serving as focal points for the reception and transmission of both physical and higher energies.
Located over the pit of the stomach, the solar plexus is associated with the third chakra (manipura – meaning "city of jewels" – in Sanskrit), also known as the Fire Center. The third chakra governs the lower thoracic spine, upper abdomen (umbilicus to lower rib cage) stomach, small intestine, liver, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, kidneys and adrenals glands and strongly influences the activities of the digestive, metabolic and transformative processes of the stomach, liver, and pancreas.
The energy generated by digestion and metabolism (at the cellular level, this chakra exerts a regulating influence upon the mitochondria –the cell organelle charged with transforming nutritive fuel into energy) is a manifestation of the transformation of matter to energy. As that liberation of energy from matter is comparable to the generation of light or heat. The manipura chakra is regarded to be a human being's Fire Center. Similarly, the Fire Center generates the energy required by the soul for the purpose of spiritual transformation.
The solar plexus chakra, the energetic vortex of dynamism and willpower (its animal association is the ram), is charged with assisting one in comprehending his or her emotional life, accepting one's unique place in the life stream, clarifying the dynamics of ego, self-esteem and self-love.
On a psycho-spiritual level, this chakra is deeply involved in the mechanics of: self-sufficiency, self-image, personal power, issues of responsibility, sense of security and safety. Dysfunction of the third chakra manifests, in part, as an inability to fully acquire and adequately sustain personal power.
Only when it is open and balanced can one have a deeply fulfilling emotional life wherein one can be expansive, outgoing, and sociable, have a sense of belonging and fitting in and be able to experience the sweetness of being alive.
The solar plexus chakra is also a seat of intuitive functioning – the nucleus of our sense of subtle knowing, intent of being and gut instincts. Of course, having confidence in one's gut instincts is largely dependent upon a sufficient level of self-esteem. Self-confidence underlies effective decision-making and crisis management and the ability to take reasonable risks and so healthy operations within this chakra are crucial for the elaboration of leadership qualities and adventurousness.
On the other hand, when this chakra is overheated, a person is prone to domination by desires and passions and attractions and repulsions, especially those involving ambition, pride, desire for fame or establishing a position of prominence. He may be overly sociable to the point of craving company and be unable to occupy himself or cope on his own.
Some of the emotional issues associated with this chakra include: emotions felt in the stomach (involving such triggers as feeling of loss of control or criticism of one's beliefs or actions); poor stress responses; easily overwhelmed by emotions; anxiety; panic; excessive worry; insecurity; low self esteem; fear of rejection; indecisiveness; fear of change; oversensitivity to criticism; self-consciousness; trepidations involving self-image and of one's secrets being exposed; incapable of opening to greater things in life; anorexia nervosa; bulimia.
Associated with the power of fire, prominently including digestive fire, the third chakra is thought to radiate and distribute prana (vital force or chi) to the rest of the body. From a neuro-endocrine perspective, it directly vitalizes the pancreas and adrenal cortex.
Physical disturbances which may, in part be a product of a solar plexus chakra disharmony include: fatigue; metabolic disorders; hunching posture [perhaps in part a reflexive protective mechanism designed to insulate the solar plexus]; dyspepsia; gastritis; gastro-esophageal reflux; stomach ulcers; stomach cancer; hiatus hernia; irritable bowel syndrome; small intestinal tumors; diabetes; hypoglycemia; pancreatic enzyme deficiency; pancreatitis; liver weakness and/or congestion; hepatitis; cirrhosis; adrenal fatigue.
Essential Oils And the Solar Plexus Chakra
In Spiritual PhytoEssencing, the following oils are considered to have a strong affinity for the solar plexus chakra: black pepper; blue chamomile; cade; calamus; carrot seed; cardamom; cassie; catnip; celery seed; cinnamon; cumin; ginger; juniper; lavender; lemon; lemongrass; marjoram; oregano; palmarosa; patchouli; peppermint; Peru balsam; Roman chamomile; rosemary; spikenard; thyme; valerian; vetivert.
It should be understood that Spiritual PhytoEssencing is an art designed to help overcome the separation of daily consciousness from the higher self which is at the core of emotional and physical disharmony and may give rise to disease. The goal is to "see" and work upon this core state that underlies all the mental compensations we make to shelter and contain our weaknesses and disappointments.
The focus of my Spiritual PhytoEssencing work (the word phytoessence is a synonym for essential oil) is to identify the pattern of deep psycho-spiritual themes which have a disharmonizing impact on the soul level. Subsequently, a combination of essential oils which correlates with these themes is formulated to act as a mirror-image of this "central disturbance" and serve as a customized response to the bioenergetic fingerprint of a deeply ingrained pattern of imbalance.
Accordingly, in Spiritual PhytoEssencing, selection of one or more of the oils listed above would be based upon clear evidence that the person experiencing anxiety has a constitutional weakness of the solar plexus chakra.
Thus, this inherent deficiency has historically been expressed throughout that individual's life in a broad spectrum of both physical and emotional symptoms aside from anxiety, such as emotions felt in the stomach, low self-esteem, fear of rejection, oversensitivity to criticism, proneness to indigestion and/or acid reflux, hypoglycemia and/or irritable bowel syndrome.
Clearly, in the limited space of this article, it is impossible to provide a discussion of each the oils listed above as having an affinity for the solar plexus chakra. Instead I will focus on one oil, blue chamomile, to demonstrate, how a constitutional dysfunctional solar plexus pattern can be discerned within its profile.
Blue Chamomile Essential Oil
Spiritual PhytoEssencing is a synthesis I have created using certain aspects of aromatherapy, Kabbalah, Chinese and herbal medicines, classical homeopathy, modern physiology, depth psychology, color therapy, gemstone healing and anthroposophical science.
Accordingly, each of the oil profiles in my Berkowsky's Synthesis Materia Medica/Spiritualis Of Essential Oils, the central reference book of Spiritual PhytoEssencing is a synthesis elaborated via a dynamic interweaving of various aspects of the therapeutic and spiritual models that are the component building blocks of the system.
For example, the blue chamomile plant (in Spiritual PhytoEssencing, the name blue chamomile is preferred to the more common appellation, German chamomile) contains a variety of vital nutrients, including relatively high amounts of niacin, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium. However, the magnesium component exerts a particularly strong physical and psycho-spiritual influence.
Magnesium deficiency symptoms include: apprehensiveness; anxiety; disorientation; insomnia; weakness; personality changes; spasms; gastrointestinal disorders; skin lesions. All of these symptoms are not only consistent with anxiety disorder but are also prominently featured in the composite blue chamomile oil picture.
Supplemental magnesium is perhaps the most important nutritional measure to be considered for both the prevention and amelioration of anxiety. Magnesium, a natural tranquilizer that ameliorates erratic nervous system activity, also combats stress through reduction of muscular tension via relaxation of skeletal muscles. Magnesium deficiency may contribute to depression (including post-partum depression), irritability, agitation, anxiety and panic attacks.
Magnesium is crucial for relieving chronic fatigue, especially if it occurs in conjunction with depression, anxiety and sleep difficulties. Magnesium shortfall may be a contributory factor to the dramatic increase in recent decades in the incidence of hyperactivity in children. Accordingly, studies have indicated that supplementation with magnesium may decrease hyperactive behavior.
In the U.S., the average intake of magnesium has fallen over 50% in the last century. U.S. government surveys found that the typical American diet provides less than half of the recommended daily amount of magnesium. Some authorities estimate that 80% of the population is magnesium-deficient.
The refining of grains may result in the loss of more than 75% of original magnesium-content. Additionally, the rise in popularity of processed foods (processing strips much of the mineral content from foods) and the depletion of magnesium-rich soil by chemical fertilizers are also major contributors in the decline of bio-available magnesium in the modern diet. This dietary shortfall is exacerbated by the tendency to load up on supplemental calcium while ignoring magnesium as a bulwark against osteoporosis. Importantly in this reference, a build-up of calcium in the body causes magnesium to be flushed out of the cells.
I feel magnesium supplementation is so important that I have written two highly detailed articles on the subject. If you would like to read those articles, click on the following links:
Magnesium Part I
Magnesium Part II
Among those homeopathic remedies made from magnesium compounds such as magnesium carbonate and magnesium chloride, one of the central themes of magnesium is repressed internal anxiety and insecurity. A second main theme of magnesium is the emotional desire for strong parental nurturing and protection, especially from the mother, in order to survive. Homeopath Dr. Rajan Sankaran in The Substance Of Homeopathy writes regarding the magnesium type: "These feelings in the adult seem so out of place that they have to be repressed, but they continue to be active in the subconscious, producing tremendous internal anxiety, the cause of which the patient cannot exactly pinpoint...The feeling is of being forsaken and alone, and very needy of protection."
Magnesium individuals often have a history of being neglected or made to feel unwanted as children. They often have anxieties about being vulnerable, alone or abandoned although these emotions are frequently, but incompletely, repressed. The general link between blue chamomile and the central themes of internal anxiety and insecurity is the feeling of historically not receiving enough attention from those he is dependent upon.
In the compensated state, the magnesium individual may so effective repress the artifacts of these issues that they appear unaffected and self-reliant and display a competence in caring for others in a maternal nurturing way. However, the repressed anxiety and other feelings readily diffuses into the person's dream's manifesting as dreams of such things as dangerous situations, falling, feeling of aloneness, feeling of having to face a challenging or dangerous situation alone, children, being with dead relatives and the death of relatives.
Whenever using blue chamomile oil to help relieve anxiety, supplemental magnesium may prove to be a valuable synergist. In this reference, it is important to bear in mind that vitamin D is require for optimal assimilation of magnesium.
I have been formulating nutritional and herbal supplements for over 25 years. If you would like to learn more about the two magnesium formulas that I have formulated, click on the following article link and scroll down until you reach a section in the article entitled: Dr. Berkowsky’s Premium Nutrition Magnesium Formulas.
Dr. Berkowsky’s Magnesium Article
Homeopathic Remedy Chamomilla
A review of the properties of the homeopathic remedy Chamomilla (Cham.)--prepared from the same plant from which blue chamomile oil is distilled--provides a great deal of pivotal insight regarding the psycho-spiritual dynamics of blue chamomile oil.
Some of the most relevant symptoms in this reference include: aggravation at night; particular value for nervous women, pregnant women, nurses and children; general nervous sensibility; oversensitivity of the senses; excessive sensitiveness to pain; unbearable pain which drives the individual to despair; sufferings to which heavy coffee drinkers and narcotic users are subject; attacks of great anguish, as if the heart would break, with complete discouragement, excessive inquietude, agitation, tossing, turning and groaning; always complaining; whining restlessness; snappish; complaints from anger and vexation; may be warm-blooded but becomes chilly after anger; dwells on past disagreeable occurrences; inconsolable; impatience; ill-humor; quarrelsome; absentminded; absence of fear of death--would rather die than suffer so; cannot bear to be looked at; worse for touch; apathy to pleasure and to external objects; desire for different things, but once possessed are no longer cared for; nocturnal sleeplessness with attacks of anguish, visions and illusions of sight and hearing; starts with fright when sleeping; vexatious dreams with a morose and sullen aspect; twitching; stiffness of the neck muscles from tension; asthma with anxiety and fullness in the heart region; emotions felt in stomach.
The Gemstone Labradorite
I have found that blue chamomile oil has an inherent dynamic plane relationship with the gemstone labradorite. Exploration of this profound soul-level interface can expand our understanding of the inner nature of blue chamomile oil.
While opinions about labradorite's association with other chakras vary, all the sources that I have researched appear to agree that labradorite is a "solar plexus stone." When worn upon the solar plexus region, the stone helps tonify the immune system.
On a psycho-spiritual level, labradorite is calming, harmonizing and a specific for irascible individuals and those who fear change. The stone balances and protects the aura, elevates consciousness and grounds one's psycho-spiritual energetics. Labradorite is said to transport spiritual light to the shadowed realms of the self. Some consider labradorite to be an entry point to other dimensions and past lives, feeling that it contains an energy of illuminescense that can transcend time and space. By helping expose the truth obscured by illusions and delusions, it settles down an overactive mind encouraging new ideas and enthusiasm.
Labradorite encourages transformation and self-discovery (especially during periods when one is experiencing conflict and change) by purging negativity, enhancing perseverance, courage, imagination, resourcefulness, intuition (especially regarding timing of actions) psychic perception (including clairvoyance) and dream recall, clarifying one's thoughts and promoting better self-understanding via clear, objective assessment of personal views, aspirations and destiny.
Additional symptoms for which it may prove relevant include: diminished mental acuity; anxiety; fear; insecurity; weakness of will and focus; frustration; impatience; hopelessness; depression; apathy; low self-esteem; confusion; indecision; co-dependency; alcoholism and other addictions.
Composite Blue Chamomile Oil Picture Physical Symptoms
Of course, blue chamomile has been noted for thousands of years as a valuable medicine in the treatment of physical symptoms that are related to solar plexus chakra dysfunction. Here is just a sampling of some of the relevant symptoms found in the composite blue chamomile picture: digestive disorders including: indigestion, heartburn, colic, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, Crohn's disease, peptic ulcers and hiatus hernia; liver dysregulation; jaundice; spleen weakness; kidney weakness; uremia [build up of urea in the blood often as a result of impaired kidney function].
In concert the above excerpts from the Blue Chamomile chapter (the complete chapter is nearly 30 pages long) in Berkowsky's Synthesis Materia Medica/Spiritualis Of Essential Oils demonstrates the relevance of blue chamomile oil relative to anxiety and the solar plexus chakra.
This is the key point when trying to decide which oils use to address anxiety. Blue chamomile oil is most useful if the anxiety is most prominently a product of solar plexus chakra disharmony. On the other hand, if the anxiety is most strongly related to heart chakra disharmony or animal soul/fight or flight agitation than blue chamomile oil would be significantly less relevant or effective.
Chakra Application of Blue Chamomile Oil
There are a variety of ways to use blue chamomile oil to help ameliorate anxiety. One way that I have found to be useful is direct application of the oil to the solar plexus chakra. This can be done as follows:
- Warm up unrefined coconut oil, jojoba oil or shea butter. An easy way to do this is to fill a small glass jar with one of these oils and tighten the lid. Place the jar in a cooking pot that contains about 1" of water that has been heated (and then taken off the burner). The water should be mildly hot but not anywhere near boiling. Keep the jar in the hot water until the oil has liquefied and become pleasantly warm. Then remove it from the water.
- Spoon out 1/8 tsp. of the warm oil and place in palm of hand. Add 2 drops of blue chamomile oil and, using a fingertip, mix into warm oil.
- Massage the blended oil into solar plexus chakra region. Include the bottom end of the breastbone and the stomach region below it down to the level where the ribcage ends. Use a clockwise (i.e., right to left) circular massage stroke.
Of particular importance is the area immediately below the tip of the breastbone (the region around acupuncture point CV14).
The solar plexus region including acupuncture point CV14 is the primary area for massaging in blue chamomile oil. Secondary, optional areas to massage, in addition to the solar plexus region, include:
a) Acupunture point CV 17: Located on the center of the breastbone at the level of the nipples
b) Acupuncture point Triple Heater 4: Located in the depression at the center of the wrist line between the back of the hand and the forearm. When massaging the oil into this point, treat both the left and right wrist points, beginning with the one on the left posterior wrist crease.
Be sure to massage the oil thoroughly into the skin before dressing, otherwise the blue chamomile oil will stain clothing.
- This technique can be used 2 to 3 times per week. More frequent application that that will yield diminishing returns and lessen receptivity by the body to the actions of the blue chamomile oil. Of course, you may wish to consider using one or more of the other solar plexus oils listed above in alternation with, or instead of, blue chamomile. However, you would first need to study the constitutional typologies associated with those oils.
Written by Dr. Bruce Berkowsky, N.M.D., M.H., NCTMB
Dr. Berkowsky, a registered naturopath, master herbalist and classical homeopath--is President of Joseph Ben Hil-Meyer Research, Inc. He is the founder/teacher of both Spiritual PhytoEssencing and the Natural Health Science System which he designed following many years of research and clinical practice, and includes herbology, nutrition, homeopathy, aromatherapy, exercise, traditional nature-cure as well as East/West healing arts/bodywork. Dr. Berkowsky teaches in-depth seminars/teleseminars/workshops to health-care professionals and spiritually aware individuals.
Disclaimer: This publication is intended as an educational tool, and not as a prescription. Seek the advice of your health-care provider before discontinuing any medication and/or trying any new remedy or technique.