7 Best Herbs For The Nervous System: Nervous System Support

The nervous system is the most important system in the body. Without it, no other organ or system can function. The nervous system is comprised of several parts. The central nervous system makes up the brain and spinal cord and is the hub of the entire system. From there starts the peripheral nervous system which makes up all the nerves that go throughout the rest of the body. Within the nervous system is a division called the autonomic nervous system. It deals with all of the automatic bodily functions. Things like heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, and digestion. Within the autonomic nervous system, you’ll find the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous systems, and they are the ones that are responsible for the regulation of these functions. As we move through life our bodies react to our surroundings, and these parts of our nervous system are responsible for how our bodies react and respond to everything we encounter.

The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for “fight or flight”. It raises the heart rate, respiration, and blood pressure in response to a stressor. the parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for “rest and digest”. It lowers the heart rate, respiration, and blood pressure back to normal. Many things can cause stressors in our lives. Acute stress, things like being in a car accident, a sudden medical emergency, certain health conditions, or being suddenly scared; these things trigger an autonomic response. Once we regain control of our situation, the parasympathetic takes over and we return to normal. When we have chronic stress or chronic illness that is not adequately treated though, we stay in “flight or fight” mode for a prolonged period. This can have a devastating effect on our nervous system health. Things like chronic illness, prolonged stressful times, certain prescription medications like high doses of steroids, and chronic pain, for example, can cause severe physical symptoms in the human body. The longer the body stays in “fight or flight”, the more damage occurs. Too much damage can cause things like:

-anxiety disorders

-sleep disorders

-chronic inflammation

-issues with cognitive function

-issues with the heart and blood vessels

-issues with the immune system

-issues with the digestive system

-nervous system disorders

Herbal medicine can play an important role in restoring good nervous system function, and there are a variety of medicinal herbs that can help support a depleted nervous system. Nervine herbs help to restore balance to the nervous system through herbal tea, tinctures, or other herbal supplements. 


Here are 7 herbs that can be used in simple practice to support your nervous system:

Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea)

rhodiola root in a bowl

Rhodiola is one of many adaptogentic herbs that help support healthy function in the nervous system. Adaptogenic herbs are some of the best herbs for anyone who needs to support anxiety conditions. Rhodiola specifically holds many benefits that support healthy function in many systems. It can help improve cognitive function, lower anxiety, increase energy, lower blood pressure, decrease fatigue, control inflammatory response, support the immune system, support healthy blood sugar, support healthy cardiac function, and improve adrenal function. The adrenal glands sit on top of the kidneys and are responsible for regulating your metabolism, immune system, blood pressure, and stress hormones like cortisol. Rhodiola is taken in root form so it’s not best used in a standard infusion (tea) for the best effects. It is best used in tincture or capsule form.

California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica)

California Poppy is one of our favorite nervine relaxants. Some hear “poppy” and are concerned about it being an opioid. Eschscholzia californica is in the same family as the poppy that contains opioid, but it is not a narcotic. California poppy works very well with GABA receptors in the brain. GABA is an amino acid in the brain that is responsible for sending chemical messengers to block the brain signals that decrease activity in the nervous system. That means that if you are stuck in “fight or flight” mode, it can help activate the parasympathetic nervous system to help your body return to homeostasis. It also helps to soothe the mind without depressing the central nervous system. For those who suffer from pain, anxiety, nervous anxiety, insomnia, and mild depression, California poppy can be helpful, as it helps to regulate the nervous system function. This herb can be taken as a standard infusion or in tincture form. It is best to avoid California Poppy while pregnant.

california poppy

Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)

chamomile plant

Chamomile can be used as a mild sedative and is particularly helpful with children with anxiety. It is wonderfully supportive of the central nervous system. For those who have a “nervous stomach” or experience a lot of gut discomfort, Chamomile is beneficial. In addition to its nervous system benefits, it has antispasmodic, carminative, and nervine properties, and is also a digestive tonic. It is frequently used for expelling gas, settling the stomach, and for infants with colic. Though is is a digestive tonic herb and is safe to take on a regular basis, it is part of the Asteraceae family and can cause allergic reactions in those who are allergic to other plants in this family.

Blue Vervain (Verbena hastata)

Blue Vervain is an amazing little herb. It has bitter, diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, hypotensive, and relaxant properties. But, it really shines as a nervine. Herbs with the nervine property give tremendous support to the central nervous system. It can support healthy cognitive function, may help with peripheral nervous system issues like neuropathy, and nerve damage caused by a variety of conditions, and can help women who have a lot of anger and stress associated with their menstrual cycles as well. Personally, I deal with this issue and have been taking Blue Vervain for 6 months, just during my cycles, and I have seen a significant improvement in my mood and anger during that time. In our family, we also have experience using it for spasmodic nervous system disorders like Tourettes. Pregnant women should only use Blue Vervain under the direct supervision of a qualified professional. We have also noted that gastrointestinal upset can occur in some people and if you are taking it in large doses. In our personal experience, we found that it can be helpful to take Blue Vervain after you have eaten. If you take it on an empty stomach, you may experience more gastrointestinal upset.

Milky Oats (Avena sativa)

If you are feeling mentally and physically exhausted, I highly suggest taking a closer look at Milky Oats. Oats can be used in a variety of stages, and though this plant holds the same properties throughout, its various parts are best used for specific issues. When Oats have seeded but are still unripe, they are in a milky stage. You can test this by picking a seed and squeezing it between your fingers. If you get a white milky substance, you officially have yourself, Milky Oats. Milky Oats are an incredibly beneficial herb for those with nervous system depletion. It can be used in combination with other nervous system herbs and is particularly helpful for chronic stress, anxiety, drug withdrawal, and some types of depression. Something to note about Milky Oats, there is some information about gluten sensitivities with this herb. If you have gluten sensitivity, use Milky Oats with caution or choose a different herb to support your nervous system to avoid an undesirable reaction.

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

Lemon Balm is a lovely addition to your apothecary shelves. It is nourishing and soothing to the nervous system as well as having antidepressant and nervine properties. It is frequently used for its calming capabilities as it helps promote a more restful sleep. Lemon Balm is quite beneficial for those who are overstimulated with stress and anxiety. A combination of Lemon Balm and Chamomile is a particularly nice evening tea blend for children who are overstimulated and need to calm their nervous system before bedtime. There are no known warnings with this herb and it can be taken in a variety of preparations including tincture and in a standard infusion. My personal favorite is in a tea so I can experience the full lemony flavor and aromatics that lemon balm has to offer.

Lemon balm in a basket

St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum)

st johns wort plant

Research studies made this herb very popular when it was discovered to have strong antidepressant and nervine properties. It has the remarkable capability to support nerve regeneration and to help soothe nerve pain. Some studies have shown that it increases serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine which is very similar to how SSRIs work (a class of pharmaceuticals that are used to treat depression and other behavioral disorders). Because of this, it’s advised not to take St. John’s Wort if you are on SSRI medication. The other benefits of St. John’s Wort are its antiseptic, antiviral, vulnerary, and digestive tonic properties. It helps to balance the solar plexus, which regulates the body’s digestion. St. John’s Wort can be used topically as well as internally. If you are using it topically in oil form, be sure to stay out of the sun. It contains a chemical that changes into a toxin when exposed to sunlight. Internally fresh plant can be used as tincture and in a standard infusion. 


Herbal medicine has a long history of use for nervous system conditions and regulation. Several of these herbs have been studied and shown to have beneficial impacts on all parts of the nervous system. When you’re getting started with these herbs, remember to start with one herb at a time so you can better gauge what works and what needs adjustment. All of the herbs we talk about here can be paired together or paired with other herbs to help you find the right combination for you. For example, if your nervous system is dysregulated and you’re experiencing palpitations along with it, you can pair Hawthorn Berry with Rhodiola and Milky Oats to help you support all of the involved systems. Remember though, even with the best herbal remedies, without restful sleep and a healthy diet, it’ll be substantially harder to get the beneficial effects you’re looking for. 

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