We all experience stress every day whenever we respond to any kind of demand, such as strength training or an upcoming deadline. Stress can be beneficial to our growth, but if we begin to experience constant physical, emotional or psychological distress, nervous tension accumulates & weakens our ability to weather life’s challenges.
Herbs can really help to reduce stress & alleviate tension. Herbs that have a calming effect on the nervous system are generally categorized as nervine. If you are struggling with anxiety, insomnia, illness, preoccupations, mild pain or fatigue, herbs can be a great way to help yourself feel calmer & get relief without the drastic side effects of prescription pills. The smartest thing you can do is find a naturopathic physician or herbalist that can help you get the best combination of herbs for your unique needs.
Since I started treatment for cancer, I’ve found a few of these herbs to be immensely helpful in my healing process. Surgery, radiation & chemotherapy are huge stressors on the body, so I take some time each day to help my body & mind cope by consciously relaxing with peaceful music, gentle yoga or a cup of soothing tea an hour before going to sleep. Since I started consistently taking steps to relieve my mental, emotional & physical stress, I’ve been able to drastically reduce my need for pain meds & have experienced less side effects from treatment.
So I feel called to share with you a sampling of my favorite nervine herbs. If you have any questions, would like more guidance or have any recommendations, please contact me!
Gentle Nervine Herbs
Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum)
Also known as Tulsi, Holy Basil has potent antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-fungal & anti-inflammatory properties. It reduces the negative effects of stress on the system by enhancing the body’s ability to respond well to mental, physical or emotional challenges. By helping the body cope more effectively with stress, Holy Basil reduces the damaging effects that stress can have on health & wellbeing. Read more here.
[from Starwest Botanicals]:
Catnip (Nepeta cataria)
Catnip acts as a gentle nervine for most adults and a mild sedative for children. This herb is a mild antispasmodic which is beneficial in cases of digestive cramping. The tea is also helpful for children with digestive cramps and restlessness (combine with peppermint and chamomile).
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
Chamomile has safe and effective nervine actions for children, as well as for adults. A tea or bath of chamomile soothes restlessness, reduces irritability, and encourages peaceful sleep. Chamomile can also be useful for soothing teething or colicky babies, as well as for reducing children’s fevers. It has anti-spasmodic, carminative (gas expelling), and anti-inflammatory properties.
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
Lemon balm is a gentle nervine and a mild sedative. It can help to reduce anxiety and nervousness, and in some cases it may help with insomnia. Additionally, lemon balm can be helpful as a treatment for hyperactive children, and the tea of lemon balm also acts as a cooling diaphoretic.
Linden Flowers (Tilia europa)
Linden flowers have gentle calming actions on the nervous system. They can be useful as a mild relaxant for children as well as adults. The flowers contain both tannins and mucilage, which helps to soothe irritated membranes in the upper respiratory system and in the digestive tract.
Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)
Skullcap has nervine properties, and can be helpful with insomnia. It is especially useful if a person is unable to sleep due to an overactive mind. It has anti-spasmodic actions, and can help to reduce muscular cramping of the back, the uterus, and the intestines.