One reason herbs/plants are powerful is because they have been on the Earth for millions if not a couple billion years longer than us. We have evolved together for the last 200 million years. Without them we would not exist. Our bodies know what to do with herbs. Plants have been fighting off bacterial, viral and fungal life for a long, long time. Plants and mammals live in a symbiotic relationship. They produce oxygen which we breathe in and in return breathe out carbon dioxide for plants to take in and create oxygen. We are interconnected. It’s in both our interests to care for one another.
Each and every plant possesses many qualities. In herbalism these qualities are considered and often you will find an herb listed for several completely different ailments. This in part is why. They are complexed and offer more than one action.
This week I’d like to briefly explain herbs for the nervous system, also known as nervines. The health of our nervous system is important for good immune function. Nervous system herbs can be broken down into 5 categories:
Pain relieving (anodyne)
Nourishing nervines are called for when feeling frazzled and it’s not an uncommon feeling to you. Nervous exhaustion is a condition that comes from extended stress. Living with illness or caring for a loved one, ongoing interrupted sleep, often feelings of despair, the sense of feeling just worn out! These call for an extended round of nourishing nervous system herbs, often for three months or more.
You would consider a stimulating nervine if you were depressed, preferring to be staring at a wall or sleeping to being out in the world. Make the distinction between anxiety and feeling overwhelmed because you’re trying to shut the world out to calm your nervous system to honestly feeling depressed, lethargic, deep ongoing sadness or long standing grief. This culture often uses “antidepressants” for anxiety. Make the distinction when considering herbal support. This category stimulates the nervous system which is the last thing you want with anxiety.
Relaxing nervines are very called for at this time. Living with worry and hyper-vigilance can become exhausting and begin to take a toll on our immune system. The stronger herbs in this category are sedatives used for sleep and often pain.
Antispasmodics are useful for IBS, menstrual cramps, diarrhea, muscle tension gone too far, etc
Anodynes relieve or lessen pain from headaches and joint pain to fevering bone pain.
I invite you to take a moment, turn off the music or tv, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Ask yourself what does my nervous system need to be really well?
Support for Overall Resilience and Immune Function:
And Restful Sleep is Key!
Consider Nervines and Adaptogens for support of your immune system.
ELDERBERRY is getting some press around this Covid-19 virus. Here’s the skinny: It’s excellent to take to prevent this viral infection from entering your cells. It’s an immune stimulator HOWEVER if you begin to have symptoms stop taking it. The theory is it may add to the potential “cytokin storm” if infection reaches sepsis stage and increase fatality risk. Most of these immune-stimulating lectins are found in Elderberry leaf, not so much in the berries. So the agreed upon protocol is take your elderberry syrup but if you begin to become symptomatic, stop.
Early next week I’ll talk about adaptogens, respiratory immunity and antimicrobials.
Look to see what herbs and herbal products you have in your cabinet. Use them!