Body Systems

Nervous System, Stress and Herbal Allies


I just love to work with the nervous system; this system receives information and sensory stimulation, it processes it (properly, we hope) and then responds to the stimuli in some way. Imagine all the ways our minds and nerves can sense and explore the world.

Much of my life’s work revolves around the central nervous system; I am a certified Integrative CranioSacral therapist, herbalist and shamanic practitioner, and I specialize in bringing the central nervous system and the unconscious mind into a state of balance and nourishment so that my client’s body can more easily self correct.

Some of my favorite herbs for the nervous system are below; please note that this is not an exhaustive list. These are some of the herbs I love to work with:

Lemon Balm (not to be used if you have hypothyroid issues)

Oat straw and milky oat tops (freshly tinctured is how I love them)

Wild roses!


Skullcap (fresh plant material in tincture form)

Marsh mallow root (not a nervine, but so valuable in my blends)

Passiflora (passionflower vine… I am so in love with this plant)

Kava (ohmygawd you have to try this one)

Mimosa tree (leaves, stems and flowers. Truly my Happiness Tree)

Tulip Poplar

I also love to work with Pedicularis, Vervain, St. John’s Wort, Solomon’s Seal, Turmeric, Cottonwood bud and Tulip Poplar for pain (in muscle salve form, but some of these I blend into an elixir).

Other ways to nourish the nervous system:

Get some bodywork. Massage therapy, Reiki, CranioSacral therapy, Shamanic work when you need a healing treatment… there are so many ways to affect your nervous system via bodywork or via body/mind healing.

Take an herbal bath. *psst. Rosemary is extremely healing here*

Watch how much stimulants you consume. Coffee, chocolate, caffeinated teas, etc. If you are already revved up, these medicinals can make things worse if you are wanting to relax.

Pay attention to your body’s signals. If you are “dropping” at 2 in the afternoon, that’s a sign that you need rest. It’s not a sign that you need caffeinated drink.

Get rest. Like, lots of it. Really. If you don’t have time, eventually your body will make time and you won’t have a choice in the matter.

Get educated about emotional shock and how everyone experiences it. And get this book (or ask the library to order it for you) Overcoming Shock: Healing the Traumatized Mind and Heart

Note: Depression and extreme episodes of sadness do not necessarily mean you need nervine stimulants to “boost” you; I feel that nourishing the nervous system is vital in these cases. Strengthen and tone your nervous system so that your body and mind can better handle stresses that come your way.

I understand that stimulants can be good for some people under some conditions; however I have found in my practice and in my personal emotional journeys that the world has enough stimulation in it. My focus is more on relaxing and tonic nervines.

Do you have nervous system challenges? If so, consider working with someone who is qualified to help you address them from a holistic perspective.


6 thoughts on “Nervous System, Stress and Herbal Allies”

  1. Why is lemon balm not given with hypothyroid issues? Would lemongrass be an acceptable alternative? I’m going for flavor in teas more than for the calming effect in this particular case.

    1. Lemon balm can be used to help reduce thyroid hormone levels and symptoms associated with hyperthyroidism, but this action can negatively affect issues associated with hypothyroidism. Lemongrass can be a great alternative if you are using it for the flavor effect; you can also use lemon zest in your teas for flavoring.

  2.  Thank you, this comes at at time when I have been experimenting with several nervines.I have settled down to just using Nettle tea with lemon balm and an occasional saint johns wart tincture or  Rhodiola tincture. I have to say the nervines work better along with my nettle and oat straw tonics. I have found that the kava kava tincture I made gives me headaches the next morning. but I made it from kava kava powder that my brother gave me and Im not sure how old it was or where he got it. I must try some one day that is true fresh kava tincture. I am very interested in your Mimosa comment. I have a mimosa tree in my yard as do most of us Southerners. I cant wait for it to bloom again so I can experiment. How do you use your mimosa mostly? Tea, Tincture, infusion?

    1. Hi Jackie. Yeah, those are some really good nervines…. and great support with the nettles and oat straw.

      I haven’t had any headaches with kava, but I have heard of the famous “kava hangover”. You may be a bit sensitive to it. Maybe you could lower your kava dosage if you want to experiment with it.

      Mmm… mimosa. I love her so. Yes, she’s all over the south. I encourage you to experiment with Mimosa. Harvest a few leaves and twigs in the spring and make a bit of tincture… then in her blooming season, make a tincture of just the leaves and twigs and another of just flowers. Compare them. Then later in the year, before her leaves look dry, harvest and tincture a bit more. Record your findings. This will help you develop a more intimate connection with her medicine.

      Also, infuse some gorgeous flowers in honey! You will LOVE it in your teas!

      Experiment with her in teas. I would love if you would report your findings on my Mimosa blog post!

  3. Has anyone worked with California Poppy? I believe it has some opioid properties, as with most poppies, but not so much, and is purported to be a good anxyolitic. It’s a protected plant here in California, but I have a little plot in my back yard. Why is lemon balm countered for hypothyroid, which I am? It’s one of the few herbals that makes a dent in my anxiety. Kava makes me jittery, and so does valerian. Weird chemistry. Actually, I’d love to find something that’s in the same category as a benzo, without the tolerance or rebound anxiety.

    1. Hey BarbCat! Thanks for the posts. 🙂 I would love to learn more about Cal. Poppy; I have some seeds, so hopefully I’ll be growing some this year. Lemon balm tends to lower one’s thyroid activity when used a lot and some of my clients with Hashimoto’s Disease are highly sensitive to it. It’s just a good idea to check your levels periodically to make sure lemon balm is not affecting you.

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