What is an Herbal Nervine?
A nervine is an herb that has a beneficial effect upon our central nervous system in some way. This groups the word nervine into one category, but to use them properly they must be differentiated into three major categories:
nervine relaxants, nervine stimulants, and nervine tonics.
Any successful treatment of nervous system problems with these herbs will involve treating the whole body and not simply the signs & symptoms. With the hustle and bustle of modern day society, these statistics are of no surprise.
According to American Institue of Stress Statistics
• 77 percent of people experience stress that affects their physical health.
• 73 percent of people have stress that impacts their mental health.
• 48 percent of people have trouble sleeping because of stress.
Nervine Tonics (or trophorestoratives) are perhaps the most important contribution herbal medicine can make in the whole area of stress & anxiety, and in strengthening & “feeding” the nervous system. In cases of nervous debility, the nervine tonics strengthen and restore the tissues directly. Note; most nerve troporestoratives are also considered adaptogens. Adaptogens should also be considered in this group due to their ability to aid the the mind, allowing our physical body to cope with demands made upon it.
Three herbal troporestorative examples include: Blue Vervain, Oats, and St. John's Wort.
Nervine Relaxants have become increasingly important in our times of stress and tension. They are the closest natural alternative for the orthodox nerve tranquilizers (that deaden the neurotransmitters, blocking pain receptors. Thus, never correcting the root problem.) Nervine relaxants should always be used in a broad holistic way.
Too much tranquilizing, even that achieved through herbal medication, can in time deplete (tolerance level) and weight heavily on the whole nervous system (nervine relaxant dependancy). However, the physical symptoms that can so often accompany the ill-ease of anxiety may be well treated with herbs that work on the anxiety itself. When the physical body is at ease, ease in the psyche is promoted. Note: In high doses many of these herbs can act as sedatives or Hypnotics.
Three herbal nervine relaxants examples include: Chamomile, Kava Root and Passionflower
For safety and for your herbal supplements to work at a medicinal phytotherapy level, please work with a qualified herbalist who has received proper phytotherapy dosage training. That way they can personalize your herbal supplements based off age, weight, lifestyle and if the cause of concern is chronic or acute.
Nervine Stimulants cause a direct stimulation of the nervous system, thus not often needed in our modern day time of hyperactivity. In most cases it is more appropriate to stimulate the body’s innate vitality with the help of adaptogens, nervine or even digestive tonics, which work by augmenting bodily harmony and thus have a much deeper and longer-lasting effect. A problem with commonly used stimulants (such as coffee) is that they have a number of side effects and can themselves be involved in causing many problems such as anxiety, tension and caffeine dependence.
Some herbal examples include: Green and Black Tea, Coffee, and Kola.
Note: Nervine stimulants should not be confused with Cerebral Circulatory Stimulants (eg. Ginkgo biloba or Rosmarinus off.), which can improve blood flow to the cerebrum and therefore aids in cognitive processes such as memory and concentration.
Medical Herbalism (David Hoffman)
The Essential Guide to Herbal Safey (Mills and Bone)
The Home Physician Dr. Christian Fanger (1911 edition)
Clinical Herbalist Training (Herbal Academy)
Science and Art of Herbalism (Rosemary Gladstar)