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What Is Nervine?

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  • Written By: N. Phipps
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 15 April 2014
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Nervines are plant-based remedies that are found to be beneficial to the nervous system. These remedies are generally considered to be safer and milder than most prescription drugs. In fact, most are considered mild enough to be taken over an extended period of time. Typically, nervines are more effective when used in conjunction with other natural healing methods. Some of the most notable plants used with these remedies include oats, St. John’s Wort, skullcap, and valerian.

Nervine herbs affect the nervous system in various ways, from strengthening its overall health and repairing nerves to treating nervous conditions. These herbs are used in different ways for treating various nervous complaints. They may be used to calm the body or perk it up. Nervines are often characterized in groups and usually include tonics, relaxants, and stimulants.

Generally used to strengthen and restore the nervous tissues, nervine tonics are often prescribed for treating symptoms of shock and stress. These nervines can repair nerve damage or weakness associated with injury or diseases as well. They may also be used to relieve muscle cramps and twitching. Oats and St. John’s Wort tinctures are popular herbal remedies in this group.

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Another group, which includes nervine relaxants, is most often used for treating stress and confusion. Also considered as sedatives, relaxants are the closest natural alternative to tranquilizers. These remedies should be used with caution, as not to overly tranquilize the body. They are useful in cases of anxiety, insomnia, and overexcitement. The most common herbs in this group include hops, valerian, lavender, chamomile, kava, and skullcap.

Nervine stimulants work opposite of relaxants. Stimulant herbs work by activating nerve endings, which in essence arouse the body. Therefore, this group is often prescribed to energize the body and lift the spirit. Lethargy, tiredness, and depression are often treated with stimulant herbs. St. John’s Wort, rosemary, ginkgo, and cola are commonly used plants.

When choosing an effective nervine remedy, freshness is an important consideration, as most herbs lose their strength when allowed to age. Plants will usually retain more of their medicinal value if they are obtained fresh or freshly dried. Tinctures, or liquid extracts, retain freshness for longer periods. In addition, powdered extracts may offer a longer shelf life as well.

The nervous system is responsible for determining mood, emotional stability, and balance. By treating the nervous system with nervine herbs, overall health, both physically and emotionally, can be greatly improved.

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Discuss this Article

StarJo
Post 4

Cola definitely energizes my spirits. I noticed a few years ago that after drinking it, I just felt generally happier.

I was curious about this effect, so I asked my friend who is a chemist about the ingredients. She told me that the cola nut is used to make cola, and it is a caffeinated stimulant. It actually belongs to the chocolate family, so no wonder it made me happy!

I always drink it in moderation, though. All that sugar and phosphoric acid is not good for you in large amounts. I drink it whenever I’m groggy, irritable, or sad, and I suddenly feel better.

seag47
Post 3

I have often used chamomile tea to calm my menstrual cramps. Since it is a relaxant, I think it soothes the muscles that cramp up during this time of the month. I feel much better after a hot cup of chamomile tea.

I don’t necessarily feel mentally relaxed, though I’m sure it could have this effect on some people. I’m naturally high strung, so it’s a miracle that it even works to relax my cramping muscles.

Does anyone out there find that chamomile relaxes your mind or helps you fall asleep? If so, I envy you.

lighth0se33
Post 2

@Perdido - It’s weird how different people can have opposite reactions to herbs. I took St. John’s Wort, and it seemed to stimulate my mind. My train of thought expanded, and I could think more clearly.

It did have one adverse effect, though. I started to get winded easily. I began having trouble climbing stairs, because I would get so out of breath by the time I reached the top.

I’m not one to advocate taking any supplement for a long period of time, so I limited my use of this herb to the duration of my college semesters. I would stop taking it between semesters, and once I graduated, I quit it altogether.

Perdido
Post 1

St. John’s Wort really does affect the nervous system. I started taking it after I began experiencing panic attacks, and it really did ease my stress. I didn’t have any more attacks while on the herb.

However, it did have some side effects. I usually had an excellent short-term memory, but I started to forget a lot of things. This scared me, so I stopped taking it.

My case could have been the exception, so I would recommend St. John’s Wort to anyone struggling with anxiety attacks. Don’t worry if you start to forget things, because your ability to remember will return a few days after you stop taking the herb.

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