I find these to be some of the most rewarding herbs to work with. The simplest interventions can have the greatest benefits on an individuals experience in life. While nervines in their simplest form just have an effect on the nervous system, most of them do not just have physical benefits but also benefits for our mental processes.
Nerve tonics, such as milky oats, directly help to strengthen nervous tissues. These herbs are specifically helpful when repairing physical damage to the nerves. Oats are specific for nervous exhaustion, when the body is just mentally and physically depleted. Milky oats are harvested at a very specific stage of growth for best effect, when the grain leaks a milky substance.
Most nervines offer a significant impact on our mental capacities, offer a relaxing experience, making them ideal for anxiety. Many also calm nerves that are causing spasms. For instance, nervines may be used for stomach cramps, mild respiratory distress, and general body tension.
While you probably have heard of using chamomile for sleep support, chamomile’s nervine reactions reach well beyond sleep. Chamomile is a gentle calming herb for the immune system as well as reducing spasms of the digestive system. This antispasmodic activity for the digestive system also stimulates hunger and can support relief of ulcers in the digestive system. Chamomile’s action and calming nerves also helps to ease muscle cramps making it a great addition to an evening bath after along day of work.
Skullcap is my personal favorite nervine herb which I often use for my own anxiety, specifically when I have a number of thoughts running through my head preventing me from sleeping. Traditionally, skullcap was used for mild seizures, delirium, and to calm the nervous reflex. Skullcap can be made into a tea but is often more effective as a tincture for individuals that have a tendency to excess energy.
Linden is used mostly for nervous tension and as a tonic for the cardiovascular system. The relaxing actions of linden can be helpful for hypertension and tension headaches. Linden makes a lovely tea which can be used for fevers or can be made into a tincture with flowers.
For more information on herbal actions such as nervine herbs, please consult the book “Medical Herbalism” by David Hoffmann. If you are interested in using these and other herbs on a daily basis, please consult with a professional herbalist.
Jillian Carnrick, founder and manager of The Dancing Herbalist, has a Masters of Science Degree in Herbal Medicine, practices as a nutritionist, and is a Certified Personal Trainer and Exercise Is Medicine Professional through the American College of Sports Medicine. Join her for live classes and The Dancing Herbalist’s home herbalist courses online for more learning opportunities.