What Are Nervines?

Nervines are a class of herbal remedies specifically targeted at supporting, strengthening, and calming the nervous system. They are used to alleviate symptoms related to stress, anxiety, insomnia, and other nervous system disorders. Unlike pharmaceutical options, nervines typically work gently and progressively.

Types of Nervines

  1. Nervine Tonics: These herbs, like Skullcap and Oatstraw, are generally mild and used for long-term support of the nervous system. They nourish and strengthen the nerves over time.

  2. Nervine Relaxants: Herbs like Chamomile and Lavender fall into this category. They are often used for immediate relief of acute stress, anxiety, and sleep disturbances.

  3. Nervine Stimulants: These are less common but include herbs like Green Tea, which can gently stimulate the nervous system without causing overstimulation.

Key Nervine Herbs and Their Uses

  1. Chamomile (Matricaria recutita): A gentle relaxant that's particularly good for stress-induced digestive issues and as a sleep aid.

  2. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia): Known for its calming scent, lavender is effective in easing anxiety, headaches, and promoting restful sleep.

  3. Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis): This herb has both calming and mood-lifting effects, useful for anxiety and sleep disturbances.

  4. Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata): Often used for its sedative properties, helpful in treating insomnia and anxiety.

  5. Valerian (Valeriana officinalis): A potent nervine that's often used for its sedative qualities, especially in cases of insomnia.

How to Use Nervines

Nervines can be consumed in various forms, including teas, tinctures, capsules, and essential oils. The choice of preparation and dosage depends on the specific herb and the individual's needs. It's often recommended to start with a low dose to see how your body responds.

Combining Nervines with Lifestyle Changes

While nervines can be very effective, they are most beneficial when used in conjunction with lifestyle changes such as stress management techniques, regular exercise, and a balanced diet.

Safety and Considerations

Generally, nervines are safe, but some can be potent and might interact with medications, especially sedatives or antidepressants. It's always important to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new herbal regimen, especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have existing health conditions.


Nervines offer a natural way to support and calm our nervous system, helping us to cope with the stresses of modern life. Whether you need a gentle tonic for long-term support or immediate relief from acute stress, there is likely a nervine herb that can help.

Further Reading and References

  1. "The Earthwise Herbal: A Complete Guide to New World Medicinal Plants" by Matthew Wood.
  2. "The Modern Herbal Dispensatory" by Thomas Easley and Steven Horne.
  3. Research articles and clinical trials focusing on the efficacy of nervine herbs.

In summary, nervines represent a diverse and invaluable group of herbs that can play a crucial role in managing stress, anxiety, and other nervous system-related issues, offering a more natural and gentle approach compared to conventional medications.

Karen Steuer