By Rebecca Potter, MH
When stress comes knocking on your door, what do you do? Hopefully you have a tried and true method to get your stress level down, since prolonged stress causes chronic disease and even kills! And it turns our nerves into raw uninsulated electrical wires that keep shorting out causing all sorts of issues. Is it any surprise that three of the most prescribed drugs (Tagamet, Inderal and Xanex) in America are for stress-related ailments?
There are very specific star performers in the herbal world for soothing and healing the nerves, as well as helping our bodies better cope with stress. When trying to bring the body, and the nerves, back into balance, turning to adaptogen herbs and nervine herbs will be incredibly helpful.
Adaptogen herbs help our bodies respond to all type of stress, physical, environmental, or emotional, and help regulate the endocrine, immune, and nervous systems. They actually protect cellular mitochondria from damage caused from stress by producing proteins that help resist it. So these herbs are truly protecting you on a cellular level. Adaptogens also help control excess cortisol levels, provide the cells more energy, help the body use oxygen more efficiently, and many have anti-inflammatory effects.
Some great examples of adaptogen herbs are American ginseng, Siberian ginseng, ashwagandha root, cordyceps, licorice root, schizandra berries, reishi mushrooms, gotu kola, astragalus, fo-ti, burdock, holy basil, maca, rhodiola, and turmeric.
How to consume adaptogen herbs: They can be taken in powder form as capsules, in smoothies, or as an herbal tea.
Nervine herbs are tonic and healing to the nerves. You have probably had a nice cup of camomile tea to help calm the nerves. Nervines help your body heal from the damage caused by stress. They also help muscle spasms, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and pain.
Examples of nervine herbs are burdock seeds, red clover, passion flower, chamomile, catnip, hops, blue cohosh, black cohosh, valerian, lemon balm, marshmallow root, mullein, lavender, peppermint, rosemary, sage, skullcap, and yarrow. Nervines made into herbal extracts are very effective at helping you relax and calming those frayed nerves.
How to consume nervine herbs: Many people prefer to drink herbal teas with one or more of these herbs as the perfect way to start or end the day. Taking the herbs in capsule form is also as effective. I had a great time concocting my own “Insomnia Extract” with 7 different nervine herbs. It worked great!
If you are looking for some fantastic herbal combinations of these herbs, I can recommend two. Dr. Christopher’s Ear and Nerve Formula consists of blue cohosh, black cohosh, blue vervain, skullcap and lobelia. Together these herbs have the power to rebuild a shattered motor nervous system and spinal cord, and are used for other purposes as well.
Another powerful formula is Dr. Christopher’s Relax-Eze, which nourishes and rebuilds the rest of the nervous system and nerve sheaths. Relax-Eze is made of black cohosh, cayenne, hops flowers, lobelia, skullcap, valerian, wood betony and mistletoe. This formula is fantastic for reducing nerve irritation, calming the nerves and spasms.
Just a note on sugar and caffeine. Both leach calcium and energy from the body, especially from the nerve sheaths. Caffeine puts great stress on the arteries, nerves, and endocrine system. It increases stress hormones by up to 200%, depleting the adrenal glands and energy reserves. Avoiding stress-causing, nerve-damaging foods plays a vital role in making sure you stay Zen!
Our bodies aren’t designed to be in high stress mode all the time, nor are they equipped to tackle the effects of all that prolonged stress. Being able to utilize Mother Nature’s wonders for natural healing from stress, and allowing us to better handle the daily stresses of life, is a true gift for which to be grateful.
These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Anyone suffering from disease or injury should consult with a physician before taking any herbs.
Rebecca Potter, MH, is a lifelong student of herbalism, a lover of herbs and natural healing. She feels passionately about sharing her knowledge and experience with herbs to empower all to achieve the greatest possible health potential. She received her Master Herbalist Degree from The School of Natural Healing, and teaches herbal classes in her local area. She is the author of The Essential Survival Guide to Medical Preparedness. In addition to her herbal classes, Rebecca enjoys doing personalized herbal consultations.