Originally Written for Sanandi.com
Our mission, if you want to boil it down to its sweet essence, is to promote wellness.
We do that by providing education—both on our blog and through our foundation—and by using the elements of anthroposophic medicine to create products that help to create a space for your body to perform it’s optimal function.
We believe that the combination of knowing what optimal performance is and using the powers of modern science and the plant (and planet) connection is the way to promote health in our bodies.
This is our second article about the nervous system, in another article we gave you an overview of how your nervous system works, so in this one we’ll go a little deeper to talk about some tips along with a plant connection.
Tips for Nervous System Health
When someone is stressed or having chronic issues with feeling anxious never suggest just blindly going to your local health store and picking up a relaxant.
Because there are a lot of moving pieces involved with the nervous system, it’s important to keep a few things in mind.
1—Lifestyle, lifestyle, lifestyle. If you’re working with chronic issues with your nerves, medication (whether it’s natural or made in a pharmaceutical lab) isn’t going to solve the problem. It can help with the symptoms, sure, but really working through issues around stress and the nervous system typically involves making a real change to your lifestyle. That could mean exercising more (or less), deep breathing, or even quitting your job or moving. Identifying stressors is an important part of doing this work.
2—Good fats are super important. I know this is an article about the nervous system and not digestion, but our bodies are connected and the systems we have affect each other. Our myelin sheaths (and actually our brains) are comprised of about 70% fat. If you’re not getting enough good fats in your diet, your body can’t use those fatty acids to build or repair your nervous system correctly—a good way to tell that fat consumption or absorption is an issue is if there are sharp pains, often in the neck.
3—Nerve damage, especially peripheral nerve damage, is often something that the body can heal itself from. However, it doesn’t come from nowhere and is often connected to additional body systems and/or diet and lifestyle choices. If you’re working with nerve damage, you should talk to your natural healthcare provider and ask them to recommend a physical therapist that could help.
5 Herbs for the Nervous System
This post is specific to the nervous system so the herbs that are covered here These plant allies bolster and fortify your nervous system or help you change your stress state. If you’re looking for herbs that help with sleep—which is often overlapping—check out this post.
Vervain (Verbena hastata) is a personal favorite when it comes to a workable solution for active times of stress. When your mind is racing and you can’t focus or when your blood is running hot, choose vervain. It’s what is known as a parasympathomimetic, which is a big word that means that it helps to mimic your body’s parasympathetic nervous system. It helps you realign with the rest and digest part of your autonomic nervous system so you can reason, communicate, and relax. I love it in a tea after a long day at work or before bed if I’m full of ideas. If I’m up in the night with a racing mind, an extract is just the ticket to settling me right back into myself.
St. John’s Wort
You’ll find St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is most of our products because it’s a sunny little plant that’s a big helper to a lot of our body systems (liver, urinary, topical) and it has a special impact on the nervous system that not many other herbal allies can boast. It bolsters the myelin sheaths overtime, that means it helps directly with fortifying the nerves! This is great for people with people that are working with frayed nerves—or people that are overworked in general. Take it in a tea, like our Soothing Sleep Tea, or in an extract to bring lightness back into your days.
Note: In recent years it’s been touted as a solution for depression, but I actually don’t suggest using it alone in most cases. People in today’s society working through times of sadness often exhibit bouts of anxious feelings too. Because of its ability to fortify the nerves, people working through both can see an increase in the symptoms associated with anxiety.
Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) is what is known as an adaptogenic herb—it supports your adrenals and helps them to handle stress more effectively. Reishi, and really any adaptogenic or modulating herb, is helpful overtime and is best used in conjunction with faster acting herbs if you’re looking to balance both your short term stressor and your chronic stress.
You can simmer it for a while as a tea—but it’s not very tasty—or use it in an extract that has been double extracted (this means extracted by both water and alcohol). A reishi extract is one you’ll take daily for a month or sometimes more (some people use it very consistently, other have it 1 month a year, still others use it 1-2 months daily and then 1-2 months not at all—find what’s best for you.)
Milky Oats (Avena sativa) is a tonic nervine. That means you can take it regularly and it relaxes your nerves. This is for people that are working through stressful situations that can be debilitating or who get really irritable when they are under stress (hello). It is often helpful when someone is finding that their sex-drive takes a dive during stressful times or who have episodes of fear. Basically, if your nerves are noticeably on you, milky oats is the way to go.
Make a tea—steep it long in hot (not boiling) water and drink throughout the day. You might want to add something with flavor, the milky oats are a grass and they taste like one (I like it with tulsi).
Oh Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora). She has a few notable traits: the beautiful flowers, the powers of divination, the ability to calm. You. down. Skullcap is for the people that seemingly have no chill. They are always working, always have a cause, and always love to be right (you know who you are). This is helpful for shock or fear and stresses that make your heart beat hard and fast.
In an extract form, skullcap acts quickly and noticeably calms physical tensions in the upper body within minutes, especially with several droppers full at once. For general daily stress, it is lovely taken as a tea throughout the morning, especially mixed with an earl grey and orange peel, it helps to focus the mind when the focus is being shifted due to daily stressors.
Do you have a favorite Nervous System Herb? Tell us in the comments!