Plant Helpers for Empaths by Erin LaFaive

How to use herbs to protect, soothe, and nourish empathic abilities

An empath is a type of person who senses information about other people, without even having to speak to them.  Empaths can pick up what others around them are feeling such as emotions, physical ailments, and moods. Not only is this done at on individual level, but empaths can determine the mood of a room when people are gathered together, whether for fun or business.

Empaths are a bit like an antenna picking up on radio waves. Sometimes it’s a crystal clear signal and other times it’s a scattered mess. The “waves” can come in the form of emotional or physical sensations; a change of feeling or mental images. Imagine listening to a radio station that isn’t tuned in well. You get half of one station and interruptions from another. That’s what it’s like to receive information from another person - mostly your own “station” and a bit of someone else’s. Empathic ability can be very useful without awareness and healthy boundaries, it can easily become overwhelming.

Deciphering which station is your personal channel and which is interference can be tricky to disentangle. If someone is unaware they’re an empath they may feel emotional changes out of nowhere, which can be alarming and very confusing. Even those who are aware of their empathic abilities need tools to assist with picking up on too many “waves” or eliminating unwanted physical and emotional pain. Below are some herbs to help protect against unwanted information from others; removing unwanted leftover energy; and nourishing mind, body, spirit to keep the empath healthy and strong.


Picking up on other people’s energy is a constant for empaths, it never stops unless the empath finds a way to diminish or protect from the energy. What happens if an empath is a social butterfly, lives in a large family, or works in a busy environment? They encounter a lot of energy!   Protection is needed to ward off incoming information or information that was obtained throughout the day. Pink yarrow is an herb known for its psychic protection abilities.

Pink yarrow (Achillea millefolium) blossoms being infused in water
for a flower essence formula

Pink yarrow (Achillea millefolium) growing in the garden

Ways to use pink yarrow: flower essence, dried plants, grow in the garden

Pink yarrow is used as a flower essence, which is a highly diluted fresh floral infusion. The flowers float in water, in the sun for about 4 hours, then the flower is taken out and the remaining water is diluted with more water and usually some brandy as a preservative. Flower essences are energetic formulas which base the beneficial effects off of the energy of the plant rather than the plant’s chemical properties. It’s best to use right before encountering people- high stress situations, and events with large crowds. The flower essence comes in a small bottle with a dropper dispenser - a couple of drops under the tongue is ideal, although rubbing some drops on the inside wrist is okay as well. 

Growing pink yarrow is another way to feel the psychic protection effects. It grows easily in well-drained soils within USDA hardiness zones 3-8. This means it can withstand winter temperatures as low as -39.9 °C (-40 °F) but must experience a dormant period in temperatures of at least  -9.4 °C (15 °F). Pink yarrow dries well using the air dried method - cut flowering stems near the ground level; hang upside down in a dry place out of sunlight. Put the dried flowers in a pouch so you can carry it around in a purse or other travel bag. Be creative! Use the dried flowers in a decorative,crafty way to display in the home or office. No one will know it has a multi-purpose!

Other protection herbs: blue vervain (Verbena hastata), rowan (Sorbus americana)


Why would you want to cleanse your energy? Do some people have “dirty” energy? Not exactly, though we certainly may not like some people's energy. Cleaning energy is more about getting your energy back to it’s normal vibration. Herbs can assist with this process through the act of smudging.  

Smudging is the activity of lighting dry herbs on fire and extinguishing it right away to allow the dried material to smolder. The smoke is meant to move around the room, person, or object. It can be done before or after meeting people, though usually it’s completed after someone’s energy has crept into all your energetic “nooks and crannies.”

Smudge bundles can be made from lavender, white sage, mugwort, and others. Many plants have obtained the common name “white sage”, even though they aren’t of the same plant family. I use the plant species Artemisia ludoviciana because it grows naturally in my area and it has a mild fragrance compared to other species I’ve used. Culinary sage can be used as well.

White sage (Artemisia ludoviciana) burning in a shell. 

Other herbs commonly used for cleansing: yarrow, vervain, frankincense, myrrh

Nourishing and Calming

Feeling and absorbing other people’s emotions and physical sensations can be exhausting. It’s important for an empath to nourish their body to maintain health and calm the mind.

Nettle (Urtica dioica) is one of my favorite all-purpose, nourishing herbs. It tastes sort of similar to spinach. Dried or cooked makes the "sting" of stinging nettle "inactivate" and diluted. It’s packed with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients including: calcium, protein, and magnesium. For cooking, I recommend harvesting nettles in spring when they are tender. Use the dried leaves to make a nourishing infusion by taking 1 ounce of dried herb and adding 4 cups of boiling water. Let it steep for 4 to ­ 8 hours. Strain the herb out and drink 1 to ­4 cups per day. For extra flavor add honey or fruit juice.

Milky oat (Avena sativa) tops are soothing to the nervous system. It has a very mild flavor similiar to very watered down oatmeal. This is the same plant used to make the well known breakfast cereal ­oatmeal, though, milky oat tops are harvested before the oat is matured. Create a nourishing infusion by taking 1 ounce of dried herb and adding 4 cups of boiling water. Let it set for 2 to 4 hours. Strain the herb out and drink 1 to ­4 cups per day. For extra flavor add honey or fruit juice.

Other herbs for calming and nourishing: chamomile (Matricaria recutita), lemonbalm (Melissa officinalis), California poppy (Eschscholzia Californica), blue vervain (Verbena hastata).

You may have noticed that vervain was listed in each of the categories - Protect, Cleanse, Nourish and Calm. This herb was deemed sacred and powerful for centuries by many cultures including the Romans and Druids. Blue vervain is known for these qualities - bless, protect, purify, increase inspiration, and ward off negativity.

Blue vervain (Verbena hastata) in flower. 

There are many other herbal options to help empaths protect against and cleanse away unwanted contact with other people’s energies as well as nourish the body and calm the mind after intense energy encounters.

What herbs help you with empathic feelings? Comment below and let me know what works for you.

Plants are healing, they are helpers, they need to be part of our lives,

Erin LaFaive

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Name: Erin LaFaive is a Herbalist and
Plant Priestess

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