Natural Medicine To Soothe The Nerves

Has stress left you feeling overwhelmed, tense and anxious? Stress can be depleting to your nervous system and can lead to a host of symptoms of anxiety such as muscle tension, worry, panic, irritability, racing heart, digestive discomfort, headaches and difficulty sleeping.

The most important treatment is to make changes to your lifestyle. Carve out more time for self-care and ensure that are getting enough sleep, time to rest, and try incorporating yoga and meditation into your routine. Exercise and getting outside in nature are also restorative.

If you are feeling this way, the right combination of herbs and vitamins can go a long way in nourishing your nervous system so that you can have more resilience to stress and feel your best. The following are my favourite tonics to soothe the nerves:

Skullcap is one of our best tonics to nourish the nervous system to help repair it after a period of stress or debility. Skullcap can relax the body, ease pain, calm the mind and can be taken before bed for insomnia.

Passionflower is a beautiful nerve tonic. Taken as a tea, tincture or tablet passionflower has a sedative effect to calm the body, relax muscles and ease pain. This is one of my favourite non-addictive herbs to support sleep.

St. John’s Wort has bright yellow blossoms that come into bloom around the summer solstice. This sunny herb is useful to uplift the mood in cases of mild depression, anxiety, SAD or PMS. Many people don’t know that St. John’s wort also has anti-viral properties, anti-inflammatory effects and can ease pain.

Ashwagandha is a powerful Ayurvedic herb that has been used in India for over 5,000 years. It is a calming nerve tonic and adaptogen which helps to restore the body after a period of stress. As an adaptogen it helps to balance stress hormones and improve resilience to stress. Through this action it helps to promote energy while taking the edge off anxiety. Other adaptogen’s that have a similar effect include Rhodiola and Relora.

L-Theanine is an amino acid found in green tea that promotes a restful, soothing effect. This nutrient gives you a dose of “Zen” as it helps to promote alpha brain waves similar to meditation. This leaves you feeling relaxed and alert. You can find L-theanine in chewable tablets or capsules.

Magnesium is a relaxing mineral that is important for over 300 reactions in the body. This mineral gets depleted by stress and coffee consumption. Muscle cramping/twitching, tension, anxiety, fatigue, headaches and insomnia can be signs that your body is deficient. Magnesium rich foods include dark leafy greens, nuts/seeds, legumes and whole grains. Supplemental magnesium comes in various forms, magnesium bisglycinate is absorbed well. This has a calming effect on the body, promotes muscle relaxation and can be taken before bed to restore sleep.

Vitamin B Complex: B vitamins such as B6, B12 and active folate are important nutrients for producing healthy levels of neurotransmitters in the brain to promote balanced mood. These B vitamins can get depleted due to stress. A daily B complex vitamin taken in the morning can be helpful in managing stress and preventing anxiety.

Herbal Tea: Taking a break to prepare and get cozy with cup of tea can have as much of a restorative effect as the tea itself. Create a daily self-care ritual with preparing tea for yourself. Herbs that calm and soothe your nervous system include oatstraw, skullcap, passionflower, chamomile, lemonbalm, holy basil, rose petals and lavender. Create a blend for yourself with flavour and aroma that are pleasant and comforting.

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Dr. Shannon Sarrasin, ND

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