Adaptogens seem to get all the limelight, so this post is all about nervines. Nervines are herbs that act directly upon the nervous system.
Here are some signs that your nervous system may be taking strain:
- Feeling anxious or agitated;
- Not sleeping or not sleeping well;
- Difficulty concentrating or brain fog;
- Feeling exhausted constantly;
- Over-worrying and struggling to quiet the mind; and
- Digestive issues.
There are three types of nervines; each type can help you with different aspects of your nervous system.
There are herbs that nourish, strengthen and heal the nervous system.
Herbs to consider include:
- Milky oats (Avena sativa), a nervous system restorative and nutritive tonic traditionally recommended for those who give and give until they are depleted.
- Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), which is specifically for nervous tension accompanied by anxiety.
These are a natural alternative to tranquilizers. They are usually indicated for anxiety, tension or restlessness – especially where there is digestive and musculoskeletal involvement and/or difficulty sleeping.
Herbs in this category include:
- German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla), which is used for anxiety, depression and nervous tension. This gentle herb is also useful for digestive symptoms connected to stress.
- Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata), which is recommended for restlessness, difficulty falling asleep, nervous tension, anxiety, long-term stress and fatigue;
- Lavender (Lavandula officinalis), which is known to help with sleep, is also indicated for headaches and musculoskeletal tension resulting from stress;
- Valerian (Valeriana officinalis), known for its immediate hypnotic and sedative actions. It can also be used in lower doses for cramping and indigestion associated with stress; and
- Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), which is specifically indicated when there is a significant mental ‘load’ – especially where digestive symptoms are also present.
These herbs are thought to directly stimulate the nervous system and are usually indicated for those who are suffering from extremely low energy levels.
Besides organic coffee and green tea (yes, these are herbal remedies!), rosemary (or Rosmarinus officinalis) is a useful nervine stimulant. While it is not quite as relaxing as lavender or as stimulating as coffee, it may help to promote clarity of thinking, calm awareness, and a sense of groundedness.
Just remember that, whilst nervines can help to take the edge off your stress and anxiety, they can’t address the root cause.