In a world awash in stress, anxiety, depression, and anxiety-related disorders, many of us are looking to ancient healing practices for help.
One natural and proven-effective treatment is a little-known category of herbs called nervines, which help to modulate—or balance—our nervous system.
Despite our world being filled with many more conveniences and comforts, security and safety, than our ancestors experienced, it has pushed many of us to the brink mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
And as a result, modern medicine and Western doctors, especially, have turned us toward certain medications that are occasionally effective, sometimes ineffective, but regardless, are certainly laden with side effects—some mild and others very serious.
For some of us, using prescription medications is still a path we need to follow—zero judgment here.
That said, many of us are looking for effective alternatives with few—if any—side effects. In this search for healing, The Sacred Science Team and I returned to our ancestral roots, to ancient medicine and folk wisdom to find the answers—and relief—we so desperately seek.
Thankfully, there’s a category of medicinal herbs called nervines, which can help to manage (and even heal):
- Mild to moderate stress
- Seep disruptions
- Gastrointestinal discomfort; and
- Other ailments
Science is just beginning to understand how beneficial nervine herbs can be for those of us suffering from ailments rooted in a dysfunctional nervous system. Oftentimes, all it needs is some calming and rest, or just the opposite—a good jump start.
As we’ve discussed so many times at The Sacred Science, what I’m about to present isn’t new information—it’s powerful folk medicine that has been swept under the rug and forgotten, but definitely not lost.
I still remember the absolute awe I felt when The Sacred Science team filmed at the New York Botanical Gardens for our Remedy docuseries. There, Michale Balick graciously allowed us access to the Merz Library and its rare books collection where we saw centuries-old manuscripts, written on animal leather that chronicled different herbs, detailed drawings of them, and instructions on how to use them and what to use them for.
Our ancestors understood herbs and the healing effects they can have on our mind and body, and they regularly sought relief from nervines to help relax their minds, regulate emotions, improve sleep, fight fatigue, relieve pain, and more.
Today, we’re delving back into this treasure trove of knowledge on nervines, moving it forward to where it always has belonged—as an incredible tool to help you regain your health and life.
In this guide, we’re rediscovering and sharing the story of nervines—what they are, how they impact your body, what conditions they can help treat, the best and most researched nervines, how to use them, where to find them and much, much more.
What Is A Nervine?
Nervines are a special category of herbs that help modulate—or bring into balance—our central nervous system and brain.
Studies are showing that when we use nervines, they can have a substantial impact on our nervous system resulting in less stress and anxiety, better moods, and overall health and wellbeing. Even better, they come without the serious side effects that we find many prescriptions have.
It’s believed that nervines can have immediate physiological effects on the body when we’re under stress, as well as long-term positive impacts too.
I think of nervines like I do healthy eating or moving my body. I feel good right away, while simultaneously I know I’m building strength and resiliency for my long-term health.
And that’s what nervines do. They help us with acute challenges while also strengthening our nervous system, so it can remain in harmony and regulate itself better when we face future stress.
While nervines are best known as aides for our nervous system, many offer other positive health benefits too. For example, chamomile and lemon balm (both nervines) are also fantastic digestive aids and help to balance your microbiome.
Bonus: many of the other health benefits that nervines offer our bodies will indirectly impact our nervous system.
Everything in your body—including your mental, emotional, and spiritual self—is connected.
For instance, we’re learning how the health of our microbiome plays a massive role in our brain health, emotional regulation and moods, and our immune system. So by taking care of your gut health, it helps restore and balance your nervous system too.
What Are Nervines Used For?
Folk healers have used nervines for thousands of years to help treat various ailments that affect the central nervous system.
While modern science has yet to fully catch up with the research on nervines, we know from herbalists which herbs have historically been used to help support, replenish, and stimulate the nervous system and can help treat the following conditions:
- Depression (mild to moderate)
- Sleep disturbances
- Nerve pain/neuropathy
- Concentration issues
Some nervines can also boost brain performance and are known as nootropics. So not only will your nervous system become more balanced, your brain performance like memory and concentration can get an extra kick.
How Are Nervines Classified?
In traditional medicine, herbalists and natural medicine practitioners categorize nervines differently based on the three main effects they have on the nervous system including:
- Nervine Relaxants
- Nervine Tonics/Trophorestoratives
- Nervine Stimulants
1. Nervine Relaxants
Some nervines are considered relaxants because they do exactly what their name says—they calm and soothe the nervous system. This helps induce a relaxed state of being, allowing the body to release muscle tension or stress, and promoting better moods, mental clarity, cognitive function, and digestion.
Nervine herbs are particularly adept at helping people whose nervous systems are often triggered into, or often caught, in the sympathetic state of fight, flight, or freeze. In this state, stress hormones including cortisol and adrenaline constantly pump through your body, keeping you in an elevated and heightened survival state.
There is nothing inherently wrong with the sympathetic state—in fact, it’s how humans have survived and avoided death. But our bodies were never meant to live for prolonged periods in this state.
Which is why nervine relaxants can be very effective for us today. They help our nervous system shift out of the sympathetic state into the parasympathetic state, which slows our heart rate, lowers our blood pressure, and allows our body to shift into a rest state where it also digests its food and heals from any injuries.
In high doses, some nervine relaxants can become sedatives—it slows down your nervous system, which reduces irritability, excitability, and nervousness. This is the herbal chill-pill category of nervines.
Part of the relaxant family are herbs that are stronger than nervine sedatives, which contain certain alkaloids that help induce sleep—versus other nervine relaxants that simply calm the nervous system yet simultaneously leave you with mental clarity and concentration.
Some health practitioners may recommend nervine hypnotics when their patient struggles with insomnia or sleep disturbances. These nervines are excellent to take before bed or when you intend to rest (rather than first thing in the morning, or before you get in a vehicle).
2. Nervine Tonics (or trophorestoratives known to replenish tissue)
We know that our bodies wear down as our cells and tissue get damaged.
There’s nothing we can do about that, right?
There are specific nervines that actually help to restore and replenish the tissue in our nervous system.
How cool is that?!
Nervine tonics do just that and are particularly helpful when our nervous system has been living in a chronic stress, parasympathetic state, for long periods. Trauma, chronic stress, and illness are just some of the conditions that can really damage the nervous system and which nervine tonics can help revitalize.
Nervine tonics are great to use over the long-term to help rebuild and restore your nervous system.
Many nervine tonics also offer other health benefits like helping the nervous system relax and quiet nerve pain.
3. Nervine Stimulants
When we talk about our nervous system, it’s pretty common to focus on the stress response and anxiety state—which is akin to our nervous system being jacked up and on alert. In this state, the best treatment for our nervous system is to chill, to relax and slow it down.
This state gets a lot of attention, partly because we live in a world where it seems our nervous system constantly gets triggered to overreaction and over stimulation.
But sometimes our nervous system can also veer into an underactive state where we experience low energy and feelings of depression and lacking motivation. The best thing for our nervous system when this occurs can actually be to rev it up.
That’s where nervine stimulants take the prize. These special herbs help activate the nervous system, leading to more energy and more uplifted feelings.
What’s The Difference Between A Nervine and Adaptogen?
If you think that nervines sound an awful lot like adaptogenic herbs, you’re right. They’re very closely related, both helping the body better manage its response to stress.
The difference lies in how the two interact within your body and what systems they support.
Nervines are believed to directly support and nourish the central nervous system. Yes, they have extra benefits in the body, but they’re all about finding balance in your nervous system—whether that’s your system needing to relax, replenish, or stimulation.
Adaptogens like reishi, ashwagandha, or ginseng are believed to “read” your body and its stress response, recognizing what systems need extra support.
That means adaptogenic herbs positively influence more than just your central nervous system, though they can impact that system too. Depending on what your body needs, the adaptogen may support your endocrine system and your hormones, or your immune system.
What Are The Best Nervines?
Selecting the best nervine to use often comes down to what your nervous system needs most—relaxant, hypnotic or sedative, tonic, or stimulant—your personal taste and preference, and any other conditions like poor digestion or insomnia that you may want extra support for.
Below you’ll find some of the top, most well-researched, and commonly used nervines in each category along with suggested doses and preparation methods based on traditional herbalist recommendations.
NOTE: If you take over the counter or prescribed sleeping aids, DO NOT take nervine herbs without consulting your doctor or health care practitioner. You’ll want proper herbal guidance to avoid side effects.
The Top Nervine Relaxants
If your nervous system feels like it’s on overdrive, then consider reaching for one of these nervine relaxants to help bring more peace and calm to your mind and body.
Catnip (Nepeta cataria)
Native to Central Europe and found throughout Canada and the United States, catnip often gets associated with our feline companions, but it has tremendous benefits to us humans too. Part of the mint family, Native American tribes have long turned to catnip to help ease muscle spasms, digestive cramps, and infant colic.
As an added bonus, catnip can also support the immune system, acts as an insect repellent, and it’s good for helping to treat fever, constipation, stomach aches, insomnia, and hyperactivity.
- Tincture: ⅛ – ¼ tsp every hour for fevers
- Infusion: 5-10g of dried herb per dose, taken three cups daily
Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)
Known as “the physician’s plant,” chamomile has been used as a medicinal staple for thousands of years. Ancient Egyptians used this herb to treat fevers and colds (it was also dedicated to the Sun God, Ra), while ancient Romans used it for its antibacterial and relaxation properties.
Safe for infants, children, and elders, chamomile is truly a must-try when your nervous system needs calming. This species of the daisy flower soothes agitation, digestive issues, excitability, insomnia, anxiety, depression, allergies and food sensitivities, heart palpitations, menstrual complications, skin irritations, and nervousness.
- Infusion: 2-3 g dried herb per dose, 1 cup 3-4X day,
- Tincture: 1-4 ml, 3x/day
Hops (Humulus lupulus)
Used in beer since at least the Middle Ages, when a French monk left instructions for brewing beer with hops in 822 AD, this herb can be found in Asia, Europe, and North America.
While it’s understandable if you associate hops with beer, it has a storied medicinal history too.
It was commonly used in wound healing, as a digestive aid, diuretic, and relaxant. Hops can help support your nervous system deal with stress, anxiety, insomnia, muscle spasms, tension, nerve pain, menopause, and menstrual cramps.
- Capsule: up to 500 mg
- Infusion: 1200 mg
The Top Nervine Sedatives and Hypnotics
If your mind is on overdrive, your thoughts constantly whirling, and you find it impossible to slip into a relaxed state for sleep, then you may want to consider using these nervine stimulants that can also act as sedatives and in high doses, hypnotics.
Just note that these herbs often leave people very drowsy, so standard precautions apply here. No operating heavy equipment or machinery. Don’t get behind the wheel of a vehicle. Don’t use first thing in the morning before heading to work. And don’t make any major life decisions while using herbs in this category.
Instead, make sure you’re in a comfortable and safe location and that it’s okay if you fall asleep. You may also want to try these nervines before sleep and when you don’t have to be somewhere the next day—just in case they leave you feeling a little groggy when you wake.
Blue Vervain (Verbena hastata)
Perhaps one of the most sacred of herbs on this list. Druids, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans all used blue vervain in ceremonies. It is said that the Dakota word for blue vervain translates to “medicine,” while the Omaha and Ponca tribes called blue vervain, “herb medicine.” And legend holds that the wounds of Jesus were treated with this herb when he was brought down from the cross.
Native to the Americas, Mediterranean, and the Near East, blue vervain has traditionally been given to frantic, uptight personalities who make lists, over-achievers who don’t ask for help, and workaholics, most likely due to its anti-anxiety and calming properties.
Blue vervain has many potential health benefits that can also help treat anger, muscle spasms, digestive disturbances, mood disorders, upper body tension (in the neck and shoulders, menstruation pain, inflammation due to fluid retention, and it may protect nerve cells in the brain.
It’s also been used as a long-term tonic for anxiety.
- Tea: 1 cup 3x day
- Energetic (or tiny, microdose versus a medicinal dose): 5-10 drops of tincture 3x per day
- Glycerite extract: 1-5 mL 3-4x day
Kava (Piper methysticum)
Known to treat anxiety, pain, insomnia, stress, muscle tension, asthma, menstrual symptoms, and insomnia—especially when it’s linked to anxiety.
We can trace the use of kava to the Pacific islands. Used before recorded history, kava held a starring role as a social beverage promoting fellowship and as an “icebreaker” during informal engagements and weddings.
In the South Pacific, kava was also used sacrificially and by tribal wisdom keepers to connect with the spiritual world.
Its traditional preparation methods are a bit unusual by modern standards. The kava root would be chewed, then spit out and infused into water or coconut milk, which would then be strained and consumed at sunset and before dinner.
- Tincture: ½ – 2 mL 1-4X day
- Infusion: 2 tsp in 8 oz for 10-20 mins 1-3 cups X day
Warning: DO NOT use if pregnant or while breastfeeding
Potential Side Effects: DO NOT USE if taking benzodiazepines or antidepressants
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Native to Europe, Africa, and the Mediterranean, ancient Egyptians used lavender in mummification, perfume, and incense, burning the latter during childbirth to promote peace and tranquility.
This aromatic herb is regularly used to calm the nervous system, without leaving you feeling drowsy or tired. Studies have found that when used as an essential oil in aromatherapy or as a topical ointment or cream, lavender can help treat anxiety and anxiety disorders, and relax muscles.
It’s believed that lavender has other healing properties including antidepressant, antimicrobial, diuretic, pain relief, and can act as an insect repellent.
- Infusion: 1 tsp per cup, 3X day
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
Considered an herbal “cure all,” lemon balm’s use has been widely recorded throughout the ages.
Ibn Sina, known in the West as Avicenna, was one of the most prominent physicians, astronomers, and philosophers of the Islamic Golden Age, recommended using lemon balm to treat melancholy and “make the heart merry.”
While Paraclesus, a Swiss physician and alchemist of the 1500’s, believed lemon balm to be an “elixir of life,” increasing strength and promoting longevity.
Besides its antiviral and antioxidant benefits, studies show that lemon balm can help treat depression, improve moods, cognitive performance and memory, and reduce anxiety and stress.
This lemon-scented herb, from the mint family, is also known to help calm restlessness, treat insomnia and sleep disorders, and it may help as a mild pain relief, easing indigestion, nausea, menstrual cramps, and headaches.
- Capsule: 250 – 500mg per day
Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)
Native to tropical and subtropical regions in North and South America, passionflower is ideal for people who need to calm the heart and promote feeling grounded. Its recorded use traces back to the Aztecs who turned to the herb for pain relief and as a sedative.
Native American tribes also used the passionflower root as poultice for boils, cuts, and inflammation.
Today, herbalists often recommend passionflower to help treat pain, nerve pain, hyperactivity, high blood pressure, anxiety, insomnia, restlessness, viral infections, circular thinking, depression, and inflammation.
- Infusion: 1 cup 2-3x day
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
From the word, valere, which means “to be strong” or “to be well,” valerian is native to Europe and Western Asia, with other medicinal species found in India, the Himalayas, and North America.
“Nature’s valium” has been used as a remedy for anxiety, epilepsy, and insomnia. Even the Greek physician, Hippocrates used to prescribe valerian for insomnia.
Traditional medicine has used valerian to help move blood, increase circulation, lower blood pressure, relax muscles (stopping ticks and twitches), warm and relax the stomach and GI tract, and help people struggling with an overactive and busy mind, and linear or circular thoughts.
- Tincture: 2-6 mL
- Raw herb (dried herb): 3-9g
- Topical: compress, infused oil, essential oil
The Top Nervine Tonics (Trophorestoratives)
Albizia (Albizia julibrissin)
Native to southern and eastern Asia, the albizia tree is known as “The Tree of Happiness.” For centuries, its flowers, fruit, seeds, root, bark, and leaves have been used in folk medicine to treat an array of ailments.
Studies show that it helps relieve pain, stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and grief. And it’s believed to help improve memory and irritability.
- Raw herb: 4.5 – 9g
Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri)
The “Herb of Grace” has been used for over 3,000 years in Ayurvedic medicine, and is named after the Vedic God of Creation, Brahma—who created the universe with his thoughts while in deep meditation.
Native to Southern India, brahmi—also known as bacopa—is a nootropic, which helps enhance memory and cognitive function.
Studies have shown that brahmi can help various ailments including brain injury and strokes, insomnia, nervous breakdown, debility, anxiety, epilepsy, and to promote longevity and improve brain function, especially memory and concentration.
It can also be used topically to relieve joint pain and nerve pain. Brahmi is also mildly sedative.
- Tincture: 5-13 mL
- Raw Herb: 5-10g raw herb
Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica)
A long time ago, in Sri Lanka people saw the wise elephant, known for its intelligence and long life, eating the gotu kola in the wild. If the wise elephant ate the plant, then it stands to reason that our ancestors believed it benefited them too.
Gotu kola has since been called, “a miracle elixir of life.” Native to Sri Lanka, South Africa, Central and South America, Madagascar, and tropical and subtropical Asia, in Ayurveda it’s known as a mental rejuvenator.
When taken, gotu kola may help treat jaundice, sores, boils, sore throat, pink eye, traumatic injuries, abdominal pain, night blindness, eye inflammation, cataracts, glaucoma, skin eruptions, urinary tract infections, stress and anxiety, and depression.
As a nootropic, it helps alleviate mental strain, and its sedative properties help promote relaxation.
- Raw Herb: 3-5g
- Fresh Herb (still containing majority of water and needs immediate prep): 15-30g
Milky Oats (Avena sativa)
Prone to anxiety? Feeling overburdened, stressed, and/or burned out? Dealing with trauma and/or addictions?
If any of these ailments have you in their grasp, then you may want to consider working with milky oats. It can act as a relaxant or a stimulant. And as a nervine tonic, studies suggest milky oats can improve cognitive function, and possibly moods while also potentially protecting against stress—especially when used for short durations (not over the long term).
When taken, milky oats may also help with exhaustion, infertility, lack of sexual libido, heart palpitations, and mental and muscular feebleness.
- Infusion: 1 tbsp per cup, 3X day
- Tincture: 3-5 mL per day
Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)
Used traditionally in Chinese and Native American medicine, skullcap acts as a sedative, and to treat anxiety and convulsions.
The skullcap is similar to aspirin and traditional medicine has turned to it to help relieve diarrhea, jaundice, fever, painful urination, cough, sores and swelling and wounds, headache, red eyes, hypertension, irritability, anxiety, and pain.
It’s also believed to remove toxins, reduce cholesterol, and has potential anticancer properties. Some studies show that the skullcap has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, while other studies demonstrate that it may also boost mood.
- Raw herb: 3-8g
- Tincture: 2-4 mL
The Top Nervine Stimulants
Sometimes the best support we can give our nervous system is a jump start. When you’re feeling low energy or your moods are low and you need uplifting, then consider embracing nervine stimulants to give your nervous system the extra juice it needs.
It’s worth noting that most of the nervines in this list contain caffeine. That’s best consumed in the morning—not in the afternoon or evening, as it can interfere with sleep.
Coffee (Coffea arabica)
Coffee usually gets a bad rap. But that’s largely because in our modern world, most of us overuse it, robbing coffee of its medicinal benefits when used infrequently and in small doses.
Many folk medicines routinely employ coffee medicinally.
Native to Ethiopia, coffee sprang from what we consider the Arab region today. Grown in hot climates found in Central and South America, Africa, and the Middle East, coffee held a sacred place in the Sufi religion where it was used to promote wakefulness and trance-link states during ceremony.
Even coffee houses began as an Arab concept, where people gathered and socialized, enjoying small cups of coffee.
As a nootropic and stimulant, coffee has antioxidant properties, prevents neurodegeneration, stimulates the liver, regulates blood pressure and blood glucose, acts as diuretic, and relieves altitude sickness.
The key with coffee is to use it sporadically so that you get the benefits without the addiction or without building up tolerance levels so it loses its effectiveness.
- Hot water extraction: 2-6 cups per day, or 6-18 grams
Kola (Cola vera)
Native to West Africa, the kola nut is the seed of the kola tree, which can grow to 40-60 feet high. Kola extract is even used in Coca-Cola and Pepsi drinks.
Traditionally chewed for endurance and euphoric effects, and presented to esteemed guests and chiefs, kola contains theobromine (same as in Cacao), which opens the blood vessels and bronchial tubes—so it’s literally a heart and lung opener.
Each kola nut contains some serious caffeine levels. One nut is equivalent to two cups of coffee.
Kola has been known to help counteract fatigue, aid digestion, suppress hunger and thirst, boost intellect, and is a mild mood enhancement.
- Tea: 1-2 tsp, 1-3X per day
Tea (Camellia sinensis)
White, yellow, green, oolong, and black teas are harvested from a species of evergreen shrubs or small trees.
Legend holds that over 5,000 years ago, Ancient Chinese Emperor Shen Nong discovered tea when some leaves blew into his cauldron of boiling water and he noticed the pleasant aroma. Drinking some of the strange concoction, the Emperor said he felt this herb investigating his body and stimulating, and awakening his senses.
In Asia, a tea ceremony is a special ritual of brewing and drinking this sacred herb, that is said to help treat fidgeting, thirst, obesity, nausea, vomiting, indigestion, and headaches.
Fermented and processed black and oolong teas are gentler on the stomach than green tea.
- Raw herb: 3-12g
How To Use Nervines?
Like many herbs, how you choose to prepare them depends on many factors including your personal preference, convenience, and budget.
Below are some of the most common ways that people use nervines today.
Many of the nervines listed above like lavender also are used topically. Nervine creams can be helpful if you’re struggling with pain, especially nerve pain.
Nervine Essential Oils
Researchers like those at Johns Hopkins are uncovering the healing benefits that essential oils and aromatherapy can have, especially for treating anxiety and depression.
Fortunately, many nervines can also be used in oil form, which you can inhale using a diffuser or out of the bottle. Some essential oils you can dilute with water and apply a small amount directly onto your skin.
Nervine Raw Herbs
Raw means dried herbs, which are commonly used in teas, but you can also use nervines in this form to make a tincture. You can also make a tea or tincture and then use the raw herbs to make other products like balms and creams.
Nervine Fresh Herbs
You don’t always have to wait until herbs dry to extract their healing powers. Fresh herbs are used very much like raw herbs with the main difference being dosing. If you use fresh herbs, you need to use 2-3x as much as you would for the dried herbal dose.
Fresh herbs are good for making teas and oils (infused and essential). If you’re into gardening or foraging, you can also seek fresh herbs to dry and store.
Nervine Tablets or Supplements (dry powder)
Supplements have become hugely popular and you can find many of the nervine herbs in capsule form that you can take as a supplement in a capsule with water.
Some nervines may also come in tablet form—those may be chewable and others you would dissolve on your tongue.
Teas are the most common and a simple way to introduce nervines into your daily routine. Many of the nervine herbs listed above can be purchased in tea form, or you may find tea blends.
You can also prepare your own teas by steeping raw nervine herbs or fresh ones in water.
Tinctures are made by taking the nervine and submerging it in alcohol and leaving it to soak for weeks. This method extracts the valuable healing properties of the nervine, leaving you with a tincture.
Tinctures are usually used by placing a few drops in warm water or taken orally.
Are Nervines Safe?
Generally, yes, especially when taken at low doses, but it never hurts to check with your health practitioner or to research a specific nervine before you begin taking it. Like any herb, some may interact with other medications you might be taking, so you’ll want to double check that the one you’re adding is right for your body.
Some nervines may also cause side effects like headaches, diarrhea, drowsiness, stomach aches, or an elevated heart rate. This is why you should always start with low doses.
And if you’re particularly sensitive or worried about a side effect, then start by adding one nervine first before blending multiple ones. That way you can closely monitor your body for any changes and you’ll know what herb was the culprit. So do your best to tune in and notice how your body reacts (or doesn’t) when you begin exploring healing with nervines.
Also, some herbs are meant to be used only for brief periods—they’re not intended for prolonged or daily use. This is just another reason to thoroughly investigate a particular herb before adding it to your routine.
This is just standard advice for any herb that you’re considering incorporating into your healing journey.
Are Nervines Safe During Pregnancy?
Generally, yes, but before adding any new supplement to your life, it’s always important to consult your physician or health provider, and/or do some digging to find out if there are any known side effects, or if you should avoid a specific nervine while pregnant.
Where To Buy Nervines?
One of the many reasons I love nervines is that they’re generally accessible, affordable, and easy to add to life. You can find many nervine herbs at your local natural or health food store, a co-op, or online.
For online purchases, The Sacred Science team regularly turns to Mountain Rose Herbs for nervines. They offer different forms that can suit your personal preferences and price points including dry, capsules, extracts, and combination extracts (multiple herbs blended into one formula).
And don’t discount consulting the pros. Many herbalists, naturopaths, functional medicine practitioners, and acupuncturists routinely recommend nervines to their patients and they can be a great resource to help you determine which nervines to try.
Tips To Begin Healing With Nervines
The beauty of working with nervine herbs is that you can start incorporating them ASAP into your daily regiment. As with most herbs or healthy lifestyle changes, it can take some time before you see any effects.
One of the most effective practices you can use to gauge how your body responds to a nervine is to keep a Nervine Journal.
Here’s how it works:
Days 1-3: Get a Baseline.
Pick your #1 fix that’s your chief complaint or the reason that you’re using a nervine. Some examples may include: irritability, nervousness, stress, low-energy, racing thoughts.
Then on a scale of 1-10, rate your #1 fix, mood, energy, emotions, digestion (eating and eliminating), pain, and brain performance like focus, concentration, memory, and problem-solving. Do this when you wake up, before and after every meal, at midday, and before bed.
This will give you your baseline so you can tell if the nervine helps alleviate and improve your #1 condition and overall health. It’ll also help you see if you have an adverse reaction too.
Days 4-28: Add the Nervine and keep scoring.
Now that you have a baseline for how you feel, then add the nervine into your daily routine starting at the low end of the dose suggestions and progressing incrementally every 1-2 days until you’ve hit the dose range limits OR your symptoms go away or you start experiencing the desired benefit.
Every day, continue monitoring and tracking your #1 fix, mood, energy, emotions, and focus/concentration on a scale of 1-10, when you wake up, before and after every meal, at midday, and before bed.
Within 1 day to 2 weeks, you should start seeing some improvement in the #1 fix and throughout the body. If NOT, then change the herb, change the dose, or add another herb.
If you experience ANY undesired effects, STOP taking the herb or reduce the dose immediately.
Each person is unique, and dosing ranges are generalized. Use your best discretion when exploring herbal dose ranges tailored to each person.
Go slowly, and keep monitoring.
As always, you can ALWAYS seek guidance from a trained professional like an herbalist or health practitioner trained in herbalism or who uses this medicine to treat their patients.
You can safely take most nervines for long periods–daily or near-daily for 6 months to years. But check the recommendations for each nervine individually before using.
How To Learn More About Nervines?
Bringing the healing power of nervines into your life can have transformative effects on your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual healing. In this guide, I’ve given you the basics that will, hopefully, inspire and ignite you to delve deeper into this phenomenal category of herbs.
If you want to learn more about nervines and how they can help you on your healing journey, then check out these other resources:
- Essential Home Remedies
Nervine herbs are a part of what we call, sacred plant medicine—the kind of medicine that the ancient wise ones used to help restore balance in the mind, body, heart, and spirit. Plant medicine is needed more than ever, given that we’re living during a time when the pace and intensity of life, and the unrelenting stimulation that’s coming at us, is non-stop.
While it’s vitally important for us to constantly check in and evaluate where and how we’re spending our time and energy, it’s equally important to make sure we use every aid and tool at our disposal to help support our nervous system.
The more we take care of our nervous system, the more resilient it will be in the face of stress.
May these nervines help to ease and regulate your nervous system, leaving you feeling restored, revived, and reawakened to this extraordinary experience we call being human.
Have you used nervines? How have they helped you? We want to hear from you! Share how you’ve used nervines and any changes that you’ve noticed in your life in the comment section.
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Tierra, Michael. The Way Of Herbs. Pocket Books: NY, 1998.
Holmes, Peter. The Energetic Of Western Herbs, Vol 1. Snow Lotus Press: CA, 2007.
Holmes, Peter. The Energetics Of Western Herbs, Vol 2. Snow Lotus Press: CO, 1998.
Hypnotic + Tonic
Hypnotic + Stimulant
Nervine Tonics + Sedatives
Nervine Tonic + Sedative + Stimulant
Nervines with other Tonic Properties
Nervine Herbs with other Tonic Properties + Sedative
Nervine Herbs with other Tonic Properties + Stimulant
thank you so much/ I’m a senior struggling with everything that’s going on here in FL so will take your advice buy some of these herbs/ what hawthorne berry? I take that for my heart/ cheers SE
Thank you Nick Polizzi for the Herbs Chart information full of knowledge I have practiced many years ago taking sculcup, verlaian, passionflower, to Relax my nerves, reduce anxiety, insomnia. Reading about the herbs is fascinating. I have a question to ask. I have I B S many years can I take a herb verlaian with this condition.
Thank you I appreciate your reply. from Christine Soranson 🙏✨💗🌿💐🌿
Love your articles Nick. I use Chamomile tea & Valerian supplements at night to help with sleep.
Can you recommend an herbal tonic or tea that addresses neropathy or nerve pain. I have it throughout my body. Desperate too get rid of it. Any advice or tonic that can address that problem will be very much appreciated