Nervous System Support


A nervine is a substance that improves the tone, vigor, and function of the nervous system.

The Nervous System

The nervous system is the predominant coordinator of all bodily functions. All levels of health - mental, emotional and physical - are influenced by the condition of the nervous system. Psychological disturbance is known to manifest in a number of physical complaints. Conversely, physical disease can impinge upon mental and emotional wellbeing. In the philosophy of herbal medicine, optimal health depends upon the harmony of both psychological and physical well-being. 

A nervine is a natural remedy which has a beneficial effect on the nervous system in some way. They are most often used long term.

Nervines Classification


These herbs and supplements feed and nourish nerve tissue, ultimately working to restore proper function.

Nervine tonics possess normalising and rejuvenating qualities. They have a slow action, “feeding” the nervous system and gradually improving its function over weeks and months. In cases of shock, stress or nervous debility, nervine tonics strengthen and restore the tissues.


  • Oats (Avena sativa);

  • St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)

  • Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora);

  • Vervain (Verbena officianlis);

  • Wood betony (Stachys officinalis);

  • Damiana (Turnera diffusa);

  • Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis);

  • Valerian (Valeriana officinalis);

  • Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca).


  • Nervous debility and exhaustion;

  • Depression;

  • Nervous tension;

  • Anxiety;

  • Neuralgia (nerve pain) e.g. shingles.


Nervine tonics are almost nutritive in their action and therefore have few risks of adverse effects.

  1. NERVINE RELAXANTS (sedatives)

These herbs exert a relaxing & calming effect on nervous tissue and its function. They act on the central nervous system or the peripheral nerves & muscles to help relieve many of the symptoms associated with stress and tension, for example, neuromuscular spasm and pain. 



  • Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora);

  • Lime flowers (Tilia spp.);

  • Lemon balm (Melissa officinals);

  • Chamomile (Matricaria recutita);

  • Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia);

  • Wood betony (Stachys officinalis).


  • Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata);

  • Mistletoe (Viscum album);

  • Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca);

  • Pulsatilla (Anenome pulsatilla).


  • Valerian (Valeriana officinalis);

  • Hops (Humulus lupulus);

  • Kava (Piper methysticum);

  • Jamaican dogwood (Piscidia piscipula);

  • Spiny jujube (Zizyphus jujube).


  • Any tension;

  • Spasm & Pain;

  • Anxiety;

  • Headaches;

  • Insomnia.


Nervine relaxants should always be used in a broad, holistic way, not simply to tranquillise. Too much sedation, even that achieved by herbal medicine, can in time deplete and weigh heavily on the whole nervous system.


Direct stimulation of the nervous tissue is not often required in our times of hyperactivity. In most cases it is more appropriate to stimulate the body’s innate vitality with the help of nervine tonics and bitter tonics, which work by augmenting bodily harmony and thus have a much deeper and longer-lasting effect than nervine stimulants.


  • Kola nut (Cola vera);

  • Guarana (Paulinna cupana);

  • Coffee;

  • Tea.


Those in reasonably good health needing a bit of a “pick-me-up”.


Many stimulants have side-effects and can themselves cause minor psychological problems such as anxiety and tension.

Other actions which have an effect on the nervous system

Hypnotics: substances which induce sleep. Many nervine relaxants work as hypnotics in larger doses. Hops (Humulus lupulus), Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata), Valerian (Valeriana officinalis), Kava (Piper methysticum), Wild lettuce (Lactuca virosa), Spiny jujube (Zizyphus jujube), Californian poppy (Eschscholzia californica).

Antispasmodics: Reduce or prevent excessive involuntary muscular contractions or spasms. These herbs work on the peripheral nervous system and muscle tissue and indirectly relax the whole system. Valerian (Valeriana officinalis), Skullcap (Scutellaria officinalis), Crampbark (Viburnum opulus), Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata).

Anti-depressants: St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum), Oats (Avena sativa), Hoelen (Poria cocos), Damiana (Turnera diffusa), Vervain (Verbena officianlis),.

Adaptogens: Help the body adapt to stress. Korean ginseng (Panax ginseng), Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus), Withania (Withania somnifera).

Analgesics: Relieve pain. When the physical body is without pain, this eases the psyche. Jamaican dogwood (Pisicidia piscipula), Corydalis (Corydalis ambigua), Pukatea (Laurelia novae-zelandiae), Californian poppy (Eschscholzia californica).

Anxiolytics:  A substance that alleviates anxiety. Californian poppy (Eschscholzia californica), Oats (Avena sativa), Kava (Piper methysticum), Valerian (Valeriana officinalis), Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata), Spiny jujube (Zizyphus jujube).


  1. Bone, K. (2003). A clinical guide to blending liquid herbs. St. Louis, MO: Churchill Livingstone
  2. Porth, C. (2002). Pathophysiology: Concepts of altered health states. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins

Posted in Nervous System Support

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