Nervines for the Coming Year
The following herbs can be found in my Adrenal Tonic which can be an important additive to any holistic protocol that aims to help minimize and mitigate the effects of stress on the body, mind and soul.
Ashwagandha is both calming and energizing in that it calms nervous energy created by an adrenal overload thus resulting in more energy due to overall endocrine function which will allow balanced metabolic function such as blood sugar and oxygen exchange through an increase in red blood cells, and better sleep. It atimulates thyroid function and is helpful in hypothyroidism. It has both nervine and adaptogenic properties which can help with anxiety, fatigue, cloudy thinking, stressed induced insomnia and nervous exhaustion. It can be helpful in auto-immune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and chronic fatigue.
Bacopa for mental clarity
Fresh, milky oats: A trophorestortive for the nervous system. It nourishes the specific tissues/system, restores normal function and vitality to that organ/system. Superb food for the nervous system. Slow acting tonic that calms shattered nerves, relieves emotional instability, reduces symptoms of drug/withdrawal and helps to restore a sense of peace and tranquility to the overstressed, angry individual. Can be helpful with nerve damage due to carpal tunnel, sciatica and is very supportive when there are panic attacks or for the chronically upset individual
Reishi:Anti-oxidant, protects against the effects of radiation, has an anti-inflammatory effect. Protects the liver against necrosis and heptitis. Lower triglycerides. Helps regenerate the liver, relieve insomnia, calms the nervous system. Reduces stress induced tension, possibly helpful in MS. Oxygenates the blood thus helping with altitude sickness. It strengthens the immune system. Used in disturbances of shen (mind/consciousness and emotional balance) when this leads to anxiety, insomnia, bad dreams, moodiness, listlessness and poor memory
Eleutherococcus: Athletes can benefit greatly from this herb. It increases stamina, endurance, mitochondrial activity speeds recovery and prevents immune depletion from excessive training. It is for the stressed out type A person who is over-worked and does not get enough sleep or nutritional support.
Schisandra: Hepato protective meaning protects the liver. Helps when there is a viral load with Hepatitis C. Liver anti-oxidant. Protective and restorative to chemically induced liver damage or to promote healing of existing damage. Mild CNS stimulant that can enhance reflexes, work performance, and mental activity but also calms, relieves anxiety, stress-induced asthma or palpitations.. Studies have shown it to be amphoteric (normalizing) effect on blood pressure, and with specific nervines for ADHD.
Borage: It's an adaptogen that will give birth to you joy, merriment, exhilaration and gladness. Helps rebuild vital force when there is complete debillitation.
Rhodiola: Can help prevent or treat immune depletion caused by over work, excessive physical training, chemotherapy or radiation. It balances blood sugar, relieves muscle spasms, enhances male and female reproductive function, erectial dysfunction in men, amenorrhea and infertility in women. It has been shown to increase alertness, reduce fatigue, improve memory and depressed mental states. Is possibly helpful in Parkinson's and has been used to enhance the athletic ability of Olympians in Russia.
Turmeric: Neuroprotective, adrenal health, anabolic, prevents muscles mass depletion during periods of stress, stimulates regeneration of muscles after injury, GI health, liver protective, anti-depressant. Detoxifies endocrine disruptions.
Tulsi: Can be used to enhance cerebral cir:culation and improve memory. It is used in India to relieve mental fog. Can be used for menopausal fog (along with bacopa, gingko and rosemary). Also for ADHD memory difficulties. It can be used in a type of depression called stagnant depression (David Winston) situational depression that one does not move beyond thus becoming stagnant.
Amla: Use for treatment and prevent damage to connective tissue, rheumatoid arthritis and auto-immune tissue injury as in lupus, strengthens veins, capillaries and arteries to prevent atherosclerosis, lowers LDL levels and improves cardiac tone. In India used for generalized debilitation and illness when there is weakness.
In addition to suporting the endocrine system, to calm the nerves and support nervous system health, consider the following herbs as a simples single herb or c0mbination bend.
Hawthorne: Heart health. Trophorestorative for the heart and circulatory system. Used in Chinese medicine as an excellent nervine when there is anxiety, insomnia, bad dreams, palpitations and irritability. The Doctrine of Signatures indicates it is protecting of the heart. The heart has receptors for a wide range of hormones and neuropeptides which are body chemicals that effect emotions. Because of this it is effective for conditions that are caused by disturbed shen
Oats: See above
Linden: Mild anti-depressant and blood pressure lowering effects. Reduces stress, irritability, mild anxiety, depression and nervous headaches. Combine with chamomile, lemon balm,chamomile, catnip and/or damiana in a tea form. Linden with Chrysanthemum can reduce mildly elevated blood pressure. Linden with hawthorne, chamomile and lemon balm can calm children with ADHD (Winston)
Motherwort: Use with passion flower for menopausal anxiety. Add milky oats and lavender for a stronger effect. Helpful for situational hypertension such as blood pressure going up when going to the doctor or stuck in traffic, getting yelled at or when anyone is anxious, upset, angry or nervous and their blood pressure goes up. Mothewort with oats, reishi, and rhodiola can moderate stress that causes blood pressure to go up. This is also helpful for relieving stress induced heart palpitations.
St John's Wort: Not just the “depression herb”. It is only good in mild to moderate depression and usually taken in combination with other herbs to treat specific symptoms of depression. Traditionally, SJW has been used to treat “nervous grief”, melancholia, nerve pain and numbness. Now it is used to treat those and more. It's excellent for nerve pain and nerve numbness. As a internal preparation or topical oil it can be used for Bell's Palsy, trigeminal neuralgia, carpal tunnel, head trauma, peripheral nerve pain, TMJ, tissue damage that involves the nerves, and shingles. It is a good herb when there is depression with a sour disposition, no joy in life, living in the shadows, not letting in the light (doctrine of signatures). It combines well with lemon balm, for SAD or with rosemary and evening primrose herb for melancholy depression.
Passion flower: Has one of the most defined sedative effects of all the nervines so is very helpful in cases of panic attacks. It's helpful for head chatter that causes insomnia. When you just can't stop thinking. Combined with motherwort helps menopausal insomnia. For anxiety it is best combined with milky oats, blue vervain and motherwort. With skullcap for stress related headaches and for reducing drug withdrawal symptoms.
Lemon Balm: This herb tastes delicious and should be considered when trying to formulate a tea and needing nervine or calming effects. It is mood elevating, can enhance cognitive function, improve mood, and relieve mild symptoms associated with Alzheimer especially irritability and forgetfulness. Take with linden and chamomile, yum, for better quality sleep, nervous stomach, ADHD, and SAD. For SAD add equal parts SJW and lemon balm in a tincture or tea (David Winston). Gather early before it flowers otherwise it gets bitter. A nice tea blend would be lemon balm, ginger, fennel, chamomile, hibiscus.
Skullcap: This herb is useful when muscle spasms, nervous tics, tight or painful muscles result from being stressed out. It can be helpful with mild Tourettes syndrome, grinding of the teeth, Parkinson tremors, stressed induced headache. Dried skullcap is inert so take only fresh herb tincture or freeze dried capsules
Valerian: More of an antispasmodic and sedative then a nervine. It is best used when there is anxiety that leads to insomnia or inability to complete a stressful task such as extreme anxiety before giving a presentation or crowd induced panic. It can be very sedating and cause one to be sleepy so is not indicated during the day or when one needs to stay awake. Use passion flower instead. Excessive dosing can cause hyperactive. Best taken in a tincture or capsule form due to the taste. Combines well with other calming herbs such as lavender and chamomile to induce sleep.
Catnip: Helpful in tea form for children with fever that leads to irritability. With chamomile it is helpful for stress that causes digestive problems. A synergistic additive to sleep formulas/teas
Damiana: A mild antidepressant and nervine that is helpful when there is depression that causes loss of libido or for mild depression in the ederly. Also helpful in combination with calming herbs like lavender, chamomile, catnip and licorice when there is ADD.
For a combination of both adrenal and nervous sytem health consider the following:
Nootropics: Complementing Adaptogens through enhancing mental and emotional well being and improving cerebral circulation
Bacopa: Used to promote memory and focus, relieve anxiety and slow Alzheimer, use with tulsi, oats and Hawthorne for ADHD. Also, take with ginkgo to improve cognitive problems after head trauma.
Ginkgo: For generalized circulation and cerebral circulation. Dementia, poor memory, hearing loss, tinnitus, varicose veins, peripheral neuropathy. Use in formulas to slow glaucoma and cataracts, retinopathy with blueberry, chrysanthemum and lycium. May slow the progression of Alzheimer. With reishi, schisandra and licorice for respiratory inflammation, the inflammatory activity of platelet activating factor.
Gotu Kola: Is an anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) and nervine. An afternoon pick me up drink in Thailand is made with Gotu Kola juice, water and sugar. (David Winston). For poor memory, head trauma injuries, anxiety, mental fatigue and irritability. Has mild adaptogenic properties as shown in animal studies by preventing the increase in cortisol levels and adrenaline levels. (mind body connection)? Anti-inflammatory for skin and connective tissue that is hot, red, inflamed from RA, cellulitis and psoriasis.
Lavender: Nervine, antidepressant and mild nootropic. David Winston uses it with emotional stagnation or with stagnant depression. When there is a traumatic event that leads to a person having their life revolve around that event thus leading to chronic depression. Lavender, rosemary, holy basil and damiana is good for stagnant depression. As a tea or as an essential oil it can help with insomnia, helping one get sleep and having a more restful sleep. For nervous headaches and nervous exhaustion, mildly elevated BP and old age induced anxiety. It's antioxidant and anti-inflammatory and when used with rosemary, blueberry and Hawthorne flowers can help exhibit atherosclerosis, help with aneurisms, delay depression and mental delay due to Alzheimer.
Rosemary: Anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory. Long life from Mediterranean Diet? Blood thinner, circulation. For remembering. liver tonic. Nootropic, nervine, carminitive.. For cloudy thinking, menopausal brain fog. Liver headaches (pain behind the eyes), stagnant depression with holy basil. Lavender and damiana, to prevent atherosclerosis. For low blood pressure when getting dizzy upon standing. A more powerful anti-oxidant than the preservative BHT and BHP
Of coursse, this is the tip of the iceberg in understanding nervines for your health but it is a start and with help from an herbalist and a deeper understanding of herbal medicine, using herbs for a variety of nervous system disorders can be both healing and restorative.