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Herbs for the Nervous System. Are You Tense, Stressed-Out? An Herbal Tea May be the Answer

Updated on February 17, 2010
Melissa
Melissa

Stress: A Part of American Life

Stress is an integral part of American life. There are more things to do, than there are hours in the day. Once home, it is sometimes almost impossible to get rid of that tension headache or that knot of muscles between the shoulder blades. This constant tension often leads to the inability to get a restful night's sleep

Sleeping Pills Work but...

Not being able to get a good night"s sleep keeps people from working at their peak efficiency. When seeing the family doctor they are often prescribed sleeping pills like Ambien and Lunesta. They work, but not without side effects. The patient is warned that they can be habit forming and cause things like sleep driving (whewthat is a scary thought). They are also not meant for long term use.


Nature Provides Gentler Alternatives

Herbs have been used for centuries for all manner of health issues, including stress and insomnia. They do not work as fast as prescription medications but gentler with fewer side effects.

The many herbs that target the nervous system are called nervines. The aim of these herbs is to calm and sooth frayed nerves. They are also rich in nutrients that are needed to keep nerves in top working order like calcium, magnesium and the B vitamins. Unlike prescription medications which work quickly, the nervines gently restore the nervous system to health over an extended time span. Herbs do their work slowly over time to restore balance to an unsettled inner self.

Skullcap
Skullcap

Herbal Medicine vs Prescription Medicine

Prescription medicine has it's place. When relief is needed quickly, prescription or over the counter medicines is the way to go. They work quickly and effectively to relief pain and inflammation. Herbs work must more slowly. The aim of herbs is to calm the nervous system while restoring it to health. A healthy nervous system can handle more stress than a worn out and over worked one. Prescription medications cover the problem, while herbs tone and nourish to help our bodies deal with stress.

Herbs That Work on the Nervous System

Herbs that work on the nervous system are known as nervins.  They are divided into three catagories. 

  • Herbs that act as a tonic to restore the nervous system to health
  • Herbs that act as sedatives to relax and help promote sleep
  • Herbs that help invigorate the nervous system without the harsh ups and downs caused by the likes of caffeine and sugar

Tonic Herbs

Tonic herbs for the nervous system are used to strengthen and tone the nerves.  These herbs are usually high in nutrients, especially calcium and magnesium.  Both of these minerals are essential for nerve function.  They are also high in some of the B vitamins, also important for nerve health and memory.

German Chamomile courtesy of James Stark
German Chamomile courtesy of James Stark
Oat Straw
Oat Straw

Some of the Tonic Herbs

This is a list of herbs that are usually found in an nerve tonic.  They include:

  • Chamomile-Anthemis nobilis
  • oat straw-Aena sativa
  • Skullcap-Scutellaria lateriflori
  • Valerian-Valarian officinalis
  • Wood Betony-Betonica officinalis




Valerian courtesy of epicnom and Flickr
Valerian courtesy of epicnom and Flickr
Wood Betony by gmayfield from flickr
Wood Betony by gmayfield from flickr
California Poppy courtesy of MikeBaird on Flickr
California Poppy courtesy of MikeBaird on Flickr

Herbs That work as Sedatives

Nerves that act as sedatives do so by relaxing the entire nervous system, easing tension, reducing pain and inflammation and helping the body to relax and go to sleep. Prescription and OTC medications work by deadening the nerve endings. Herbs on the other hand, although pharmacoldynamically extremely potent, work by soothing the and relaxing the peripheral nerves and muscle tissues. Many of these herbs are also considered to be anti-spasmodic. That is they help in the relief of muscle spasms and cramping. Muscle pain can be a result of excess tension.

Catnip
Catnip
Lobelia
Lobelia

The Sedative Herbs

Many of these herbs are found in teas that are targeted to relieve insomnia. They include:

  • California Poppy-Eschscholzia-california
  • Catnip- Nepeta cataria
  • Cramp Bark-Viburnum opulus
  • Hops-Humulu lupulus
  • Lemon Balm-Melissa officinalis
  • Lobelia-Lobelia inflate
  • Passion Flower-Passiflora incarnate
  • Scullcap-Scutellaria lateriflora
  • St. John’s Wort-Hypericum perforatum
  • Valerian-Valerian officinalis

St. John's Wort by by Martin LaBar  (
St. John's Wort by by Martin LaBar (
Passion Flower courtesy of Flickr
Passion Flower courtesy of Flickr

Herbs that Work as Stimulants

Although there are many herbs that are considered nerve stimulants. Rather than the zoltsof energy that come from coffee, caffeine, chocolate and sugar, herbs gently add the spark often needed to finish the race.  These stimulating herbs work by activating the nerve endings by increasing circulation, providing nutrition and by increasing vitality and the zip needed in a hectic life.  These herbs gently awaken and revitalize a worn outnnervous system.

Fresh ginger root
Fresh ginger root
Panax Ginseng
Panax Ginseng
Peppermint
Peppermint
Panax Ginseng
Panax Ginseng
Siberian Ginseng
Siberian Ginseng

Herbs That Add Pep to Your Step

Stimulating herbs include:

Cayenne pepper-Capsicum annuum

Ginger-Zingiber officinale

Gingko-Ginkgo biloba

Chinese ginseng-Panax ginseng

Gotu Kola-Centella asiatica

Gotu kola Centella asiatica -

Peppermint Mentha × piperita,-

Rosemary-Rosmarinus officinalis

Spearmint-Mentha spicata


Sage-Salvia officinalis

Siberian Eleutherococcus sinticosus

Spirulina Arthrospira platensis, and Arthrospira maxima-


Cayenne by Andr Karwath
Cayenne by Andr Karwath
Rosemary
Rosemary
Sage
Sage
Ginkgo courtesy of Puzzler4879 and Flickr
Ginkgo courtesy of Puzzler4879 and Flickr

Comments

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    • reddog1027 profile imageAUTHOR

      reddog1027 

      5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Stress caused by the pace of our everyday life is so easily treated with herbs, I don't understand why they are not used before prescription medications. A warm cup of tea is in itself relaxing combine that with the known soothing benefits of so many great tasting herbs and the stress just seems to melt away. Thanks for reading and responding to my hub.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 

      5 years ago from the short journey

      Considering the dangers of using so many of the prescriptions on the market and the incredible rise in prescription drug addiction, it's good to see the benefits of using herbs to help with the effects of stress highlighted here.

    • reddog1027 profile imageAUTHOR

      reddog1027 

      8 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Peg, I am glad you found this hub helpful. Prescription medication does have its place but I think natural methods should be the first line of defense.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      8 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      You're right about the prescription drugs masking the symptoms rather than focusing on the root cause. Loved reading about natural ways of dealing with stress without having to take Rx. Thanks for a helpful article.

    • reddog1027 profile imageAUTHOR

      reddog1027 

      8 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Just like cures for rare but devastating diseases, it does not pay to research natural treatments and their benefits. Herbs and their natural constituents as well as nutritional substances can not be patented.

      A good example is fish oil for heart disease. There is no benefit for a pharmaceutical company to research the benefits of fish liver oil. But this new drug that has been advertised on TV is a way of making fish oil different hence they can patent it and then market it by prescription only. The new drug for managing good cholesterol is just a variation of niacin that has been developed by a pharmaceutical company. They way they make it can be patented so it can be sold be prescription only.

    • profile image

      Tamarind 

      8 years ago

      I agree that synthetic drugs, like pain medications and anxiety medications, have their time and place and I am thankful that we have these medications in times of need because before we did life was a lot harder and a lot more painful. They are only a quick fix though and I do wish there were more herbs utilized in treatment plans for patients suffering and in dead end scenarios with pain killers and the like. If a there is a natural substance that is healthful for humans and helps alleviate medical problems, I wonder why pharmaceutical companies don't study that to the fullest. Instead they seem to have an ego about playing chemistry and will sell anything they come up with, side effects good and bad.

    • mulberry1 profile image

      Christine Mulberry 

      8 years ago

      Luckily I am very rarely stressed out anymore, but if I were I would definitely go the herbal route.

    • D.A.L. profile image

      Dave 

      8 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      Carol as usual a brilliant, informative hub, well written with fantastic picures thank you.

    • reddog1027 profile imageAUTHOR

      reddog1027 

      8 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Tamcor Herbal blends for nerves come in both capsule or as a tea. Health food stores usually carry both. I always prefer the teas. There is something about a nice hot cup of tea in the evening. I am so glad enjoyed the hub and found the information useful

    • TamCor profile image

      Tammy Cornett 

      8 years ago from Ohio

      What an interesting hub...how do you take these herbs--do they come in pill form, or some other? I am definitely bookmarking this hub, so I can keep this info handy.

      Thank you!

      Tammy

    • Wealthmadehealthy profile image

      Wealthmadehealthy 

      8 years ago from Somewhere in the Lone Star State

      A hub after my own heart......If people could learn to rely on the herbs that God put here on earth, we would have no need for Doctors and medicines which only cause more visits to the Doctor....

    • reddog1027 profile imageAUTHOR

      reddog1027 

      8 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Thanks Nancy, I am glad you found the hub helpful. Prescription drugs have their place but I think we really on them when there is something much simpler but effective.

    • nancy_30 profile image

      nancy_30 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      This was a really great, and informative, hub. My mom and dad won't take prescription medicine. They always go to the local herb store and buy everything they need.

    • reddog1027 profile imageAUTHOR

      reddog1027 

      8 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      I am glad that both of you found this hub helpful. That's my aim.

    • profile image

      peacenhim 

      8 years ago

      Thank you!! Very informative, I've book marked this one! ;-)

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 

      8 years ago from Asheville, NC

      I seriously need to stop stressing out - thanks for these natural ideas.

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