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Medicinal Herbs and The Nervous System

In Ayurveda, the Indian traditional system of medicine which is more than 5000 years old, selected plants have long been classified as 'medhya rasayanas', from the Sanskrit words 'medhya', meaning intellect or cognition, and 'rasayana', meaning 'rejuvenation'. These plants are used both in herbal and conventional medicine and offer benefits that pharmaceutical drugs lack.

One of the most amazing aspects of herbalism is that it acknowledges healing as a holistic process, which helps mind, body, and spirit to move toward alignment. Herbalists and traditional healers know that stress and life perspective greatly impact our health and that every fiber of our being is interconnected. While stress is considered an emotional state that many of us struggle with in the 21st century, it also affects us physically. For this reason, understanding and supporting our nervous system is a key element to any protocol for healing.

In Western Herbalism, we traditionally use two categories of herbs to support the nervous system: nervines and adaptogens. Nervines include herbs like valerian, chamomile, and lemonbalm. These herbs provide acute relief to nervous tension. These herbs are especially helpful when dealing with stress effecting the sympathetic nervous system, a.k.a. “fight-or-flight.”

Stress can be described as what happens when the adrenal glands produce excessive amounts of cortisol, activating the sympathetic nervous system, known as the “flight or flight” response. When stress turns into nervous exhaustion, the body lacks the fuel needed to produce neurotransmitters in the nervous system. Vital nutrients include:

  • Magnesium

  • Calcium

  • B vitamins

Other important herbs to calm the nervous system in cases of chronic stress include valerian, passionflower, chamomile, and kava. Herbs that are calming nervines can help by reducing sympathetic stimulation and improving parasympathetic tone thus rebalancing and include Scutellaria lateriflora (Scullcap) and Melissa officinalis (Lemonbalm).

If your nervous system occasionally feels taxed and you are in need of full body support, adaptogens are another useful set of herbal allies. Adaptogens like reishi, astragalus and ashwagandha are helpful when taken over time to build stamina and bring your body back into balance, so you can better protect your body from the negative effects of stress. Adaptogens were named after the Latin word adaptare—which means to adjust or modify. We like to think that these powerful botanicals aid our response to stress and reduce occasional fatigue from life’s challenges. These building herbs can be infused safely into everyday rituals and foods.

Of course, herbs are only one aspect to a holistic protocol for soothing the nerves. Taking a warm bath, nourishing yourself with whole foods, meditating, and spending time out in nature are all complimentary rituals to aid in reducing stress and promoting a higher quality of life.

Maze Apothecary Soothe and Nourish Tea is grown, harvested and hand rubbed with Love. The tea blends Organic Scullcap, Lavender, Egyptian Chamomile, Valerian root, and Lemonbalm.

We recommend brewing 2tsp of herbs in 8oz of boiling water, steep 10 -20min and enjoy!

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