Experiencing Harmonious Herbs – Nervines

Nervines

I like the sound of this… harmony + herbs… just saying harmonious herbs relaxes my entire body. I need harmony + herbs right NOW. The busy-ness of life can often take its toll on our mind and body without us realizing it. Herbal remedies are readily available as we pay close attention to what’s growing around us. 

As we become more and more busy it becomes our new normal, we think we’re doing just fine, managing all our responsibilities well, and then suddenly we’re wondering why we’re exhausted, have chronic pain or have developed a medical condition. Perhaps, you’re dealing with a skin condition like eczema or psoriasis. Flare-ups can be triggered by stress.

Work and relational stressors can also contribute to dis-ease in the mind and body, but most of us need to work, and relationships are part of being human, right?

We can manage stress with herbal remedies and lifestyle changes.

What is Stress?

The stress response is normal and is triggered by a variety of life’s activities. A wedding, albeit a happy event, can be stress-filled. When the body experiences stress, it reacts by releasing various hormones which flood the body giving it a burst of energy to react to whatever the perceived threat is. This response is good when we rebound to our normal state quickly.

For example, if a deer in the wild is chased by a mountain lion and is fortunate enough to escape, you might imagine the deer just minutes later shaking off the stress and grazing on grass. It has forgotten the danger.

Humans are unique. We can remain in a stress state for hours, days, or even years after the initial stress occurred. We have the remarkable ability to remember stress and re-live it. But as we re-live these moments, the same stress response occurs even if we’re not currently threatened in any way. Over time, this has an effect on the body and mind. The effect will be different for everyone.

Managing Stress with Ease

So, what are some ways to manage these ‘normal life tensions’ with harmony, ease and grace?

It’s important to get plenty of sleep, find moments every day to enjoy something that makes you happy, take deep breaths, take long walks or short walks, soak in a warm herbal bath, connect with a trusted friend, meditate and pray daily. I bet you can think of a few to add to this list.

In addition to the list above, I’m turning to herbal allies to assist me as I grieve the loss of Christina and Daniel, and also manage the responsibilities of everyday life. What was once easy for me, now takes a lot more focus and energy. My heart feels heavy a lot of the time and sometimes this affects my ability to do simple tasks. My natural inclination is to ‘push ahead’ and to work harder, but with everything that’s happened in my life over the last decade, losing two of my adult children to cancer, I’m simply not equipped do that any longer. I need a gentler way.

I know in my heart, it’s time to be tender and step back a little, to let the wounds heal and my heart strengthen. There’s always lots to worry about, but worry doesn’t change anything anyway, so I surrender to it all and allow the path ahead to unfold as it should.

The Broken Record

Ever done this? Played a scenario over and over in your mind? Maybe you’re worried about a possible job loss, a relationship break-up, or loss of finances.

Is it difficult to shift your thinking to something less troublesome?

You may be wondering how herbs can help with stress, tension, and cyclical thinking. Two types of herbs that immediately come to my mind are adaptogens and nervines.

Nurturing Nervines

Today, let’s talk about nervines. These harmonious herbs have become essential for me. Let me tell you why.

Nervines work to nourish and support the nervous system.

Why is this important?

Excessive worry along with other mental conditions can cause various ailments ranging from chronic pain and skin conditions to something more serious like IBS, heart disease or cancer.

Meditation and prayer are two rituals that can make a huge difference for the excessive worrier.

Getting out into nature, and spending time with a nurturing friend or loved-one is also restorative to the nervous system, and yet sometimes, these activities aren’t enough to experience ease and harmony.

There are other activities that I haven’t mentioned above that can calm the nervous system, but sometimes, we need a little extra herbal love. I don’t mean for this to sound trite. I rely heavily on herbs for my health because I’ve experienced firsthand how they assist and support my well-being.

How does a nervine ‘act’ on the nervous system?

Nervines can relax muscles, reduce spasms, calm excessive thinking, promote a sense of well-being, improve symptoms of insomnia and so much more.

Some nervines are considered tonic (toning and nourishing the nervous system), relaxants (sedative), and others are stimulants.

Nowadays, most of us will want to incorporate tonic and relaxant nervines because many of us are over-stimulated with activity and demands upon our time. Adding nervines like coffee or green tea (stimulants) is probably not the best option if you’re one who is constantly on the go. Remember, you’re looking for internal harmony and balance.

If you’re exhausted, can’t get off the couch, then perhaps a stimulating nervine is exactly what you need, but use these on a short term basis, so your adrenals stay healthy.

If you’re currently a caregiver or have been one, you know firsthand how being ‘just one person’ feels as though it simply isn’t enough. There have been countless times when I wanted to create a clone to help me out, often feeling like I didn’t have enough time to complete tasks of each day.

But I’ve been learning that U have to let go of some of my own standards and cross some things off the to-do list. Is the laundry going anywhere after all?

Tonifying herbs like Oat grass or Milky oats (Avena sativa), Blue Vervain (Verbena officinalis), Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica) have become part of my regular routine. I tend to feel more relaxed and clear-minded when I have these harmonious herbs on board. I’ve fallen in love with Hawthorn. It’s one of the best for supporting heart health, both the physical and emotional heart. 

Before bed, I might consume these sedative herbs: Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata), Hops (Humulus lupulus), Skullcap (Scuttellaria lateriflora). I’ve recently started making a blend of herbs to take before bed, which has also worked well. I like to incorporate Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum), an adaptogen that supports the entire system but is also a sedative nervine that can enhance sleep. 

I don’t take each of these herbs every day. Too much of a good thing can sometimes have the opposite effect of your desired outcome. I typically take herbs for a few weeks and then take a couple weeks off. Or, I’ll rotate them as needed. For example, I might drink Nettle (Urtica dioica) tea for a couple days, and then switch to another herbal ally like Linden (Tilia spp.) for tea on the following days.

There are so many options to choose from, and in the same way you enjoy trying different foods, it’s fun to try different herbs to see how they might affect your constitution.

The harmonious herbs listed above are a few of my personal favorites that I’ve gotten to know over the years and have confidence in. Your constitution may be different, and you might benefit from something else.

Important note: please do your own research and consult with a trusted medical practitioner when adding a new herb or supplement to your regime especially if you’re taking any pharmaceutical drugs.

This is not to discourage you from getting to know herbs firsthand, but rather to remind you that while herbs are most often effective and safe, if over-used they can cause problems of their own.

One at a Time is a Good Place to Begin

And speaking of getting to know herbs, it’s a good idea to work with one at a time. This way, you’ll learn a lot about the plant, and how it makes you feel. If you can, get outside to see it growing. We don’t always have to consume a plant to feel its benefits. Sometimes, it’s enough to just be with it and see its beauty while still in the wild or in your garden. Growing herbs is an excellent way to become familiar with their growth cycle, appearance and fragrance.

Now it’s your turn, have you tried any of these harmonious herbs known as nervines? What has your experience been? Are you growing herbs in your garden?

Share in the comments section below.


Resources: 

https://thenaturopathicherbalist.com/herbal-actions/l-r/nervine/

https://herbarium.theherbalacademy.com/

https://theherbalacademy.com/nervine-herbs-help-soothe-stress/

https://theherbalacademy.com/oats-benefits-getting-to-know-avena-sativa/

Disclaimer: The information written in CRY Herbals’ emails, blog & website is for creative and educational purposes only. This information should not be used as a substitute for medical advice. All questions regarding any health condition should be addressed to your primary care physician or other healthcare provider. We are simply ordinary folk who love experimenting and working with natural herbal products to enhance and support the body in health and well-being. It is joy and honor to explore the historical and contemporary practices of herbalism for the purposes of education and personal fulfillment. ?

 

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