Nervines are herbs that specifically support the nervous system. Often times, this general term is used to describe relaxing nervines, but apart from them, others exist. They have been found to work through different pathways in the body, leading to calmness, nourishment, stimulation and, of course, relaxation of the entire nervous system. So we talk about nervine relaxants, nervine stimulants, and nervine tonics.
With so much stress posing problems to a lot of people today, these herbs can be of great use and importance. Any successful treatment of nervous system problems with nervines will involve treating the whole body and not simply the signs and symptoms.
Some signs you may have nerve damage include:
Numbness and tingling sensations, especially in the hands, fingers, legs, and feet. This occurs when sensory nerves responsible for transmitting sensations are injured or damaged. It may start with some tingling sensations in the hands or feet that can eventually result in numbness. If not treated, the numbness could spread to other areas of the body. The problem can become severe, ultimately interfering with your daily routine or your sleep. Some other reasons behind numbness in the hands and legs are constant pressure on your hands or feet, exposure to cold, temporary nerve compression, a sedentary lifestyle, and a nutritional deficiency of vitamin B12 or magnesium.
Sharp, stabbing or burning pain is another common sign of nerve damage, though it may feel different from other types of pain. It usually develops in the hands or feet.
Overactive Bladder: a good number of muscles and nerves must work together for the bladder to hold urine until you are ready to empty it. When there is some kind of nerve damage, the muscles may not be able to tighten or relax at the right time. Moreover, damaged nerves can give your bladder faulty messages, so you feel like you have to use the bathroom more often.
Brief intense headaches that feel like electric shocks could also be sign of nerve damage.
Muscle weakness/loss of muscle control: results from injury to the nerves that carry motor signals. When this happens, it becomes difficult or even impossible to move parts of your body. In addition, rheumatoid arthritis, slipped discs and stroke can lead to muscle weakness and loss of muscle control.
Loss of balance: When the nerves that control sensations are damaged, it can lead to a lack of coordination between your brain signals and body movements. This failure to sense the position of your body can lead to sudden stumbling, falling and consequently, more frequent injuries.
Nerve damage can result from:
Anemia -vitamin deficiencies: a diet that lacks iron, folic acid, or Vitamin B12 can prevent your body from making enough red blood cells. A deficiency of iron can effect nerve conduction. A lack of B12 damages the myelin sheath that surrounds and protect nerves. Without this protection, nerves cease to function properly.
Drugs-side effects of certain anticancer drugs, anticonvulsants, antiviral agents, antibiotics and some sedatives may include peripheral nerve damage, thus limiting their long-term use.
Autoimmune disorders: Viral and bacterial infections can also cause indirect nerve damage by provoking conditions referred to as autoimmune disorders, in which specialized cells and antibodies of the immune system attack the body’s own tissues. These attacks typically cause destruction of the nerve’s myelin sheath.
Tumors growths can form directly on the nerves themselves, or tumors can exert pressure on surrounding nerves. Both malignant and benign tumors can contribute to peripheral nerve damage.
Inflammation: Joints can become inflamed and swollen and entrap nerves, causing pain.
Additionally, nerve damage can result from problems such as traumatic injuries, infections, metabolic problems, repetitive physical stress or pressure on the nerve; exposure to poison (toxic substances); alcohol abuse, kidney, liver or thyroid disorders, diabetes, hormonal imbalances and swollen blood vessels.
Now, let’s take a look at some nervines, many of them have multiple actions:
Passiflora edulis (passion flower): A very powerful calming and relaxing nervine with sedative properties. A teacup is usually taken before bed to help relax the nervous system, ease tension and nerve pain as well as promote restful sleep. Passionflower can also be taken a few times during the day. This nervine is a major part of many phytotherapy protocol for helping reduce the symptoms of anxiety, stress, tension and an overactive nervous system.
Stachytapheta indica (vervain): Is considered a powerful nerve tonic that works wonders in strengthening and “feeding” the nervous system. In cases of nervous debility, this herb will strengthen and restore the tissues directly.
Wild Lettuce and a pinch of nutmeg: This makes a great formula for minor pain relief. The therapy is to be taken orally or massaged externally. It is a natural sedative, quiet calming and soothing to the nerves. If you wish to use the wild lettuce alone, add the roots. The extract is very good for the treatment of rheumatic pain, muscular or joint pains and an over excited nervous system leading to relaxation.
Rosemary and peppermint: The same spices used in our kitchen? Yes! Wonderful isn’t it? Used singly or together, both are grouped as stimulating nervines. These are known to promote circulation and may have a diffusive effect that wakes up the nervous system. Good for brain fog and headache. Brew the two spices together, take a teacup 2 X daily, especially when there is slow circulation. Their essential oils can be applied on affected parts of the body.
Ginseng: Restorative, has a tonic effect on the nervous system when fatigue is the predominant issue. Feeds adrenals, boosts immunity, combats chronic fatigue.
Spinach: “The nutritive powerhouse” being loaded with essential minerals and antioxidants, slows down the aging of the brain and nervous system.
Sesame seeds (beni seeds): These are calcium-rich seeds, which will feed the nervous system. You can grind the seeds to a paste and use in soup making. Beni seed soup is reminiscent of Nigerian “egusi” soup, in the way it is prepared.