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Herbs and Herbalism

Recharging Your Battery With Nervine Herbs

I can’t believe it’s almost June! May has really flown by. Before mental health month is over, I thought I would jump on the blog and talk a bit about one of my favorite types of mental health support: nervine herbs!

Many nervine herbs are gentle and safe for frequent use and can be a part of your daily mental health support regimen. Nervines are known for their benefits to the nervous system, hence the name. They support, tone, nourish, and soothe, offering us calming, anti-anxiety, digestion soothing, pain relieving, and grounding benefits, among many others.

Here are a few of my favorite nervine herbs:

Chamomile

Rosemary (relaxing / stimulating)

Tulsi

Lavender

Lemon balm

Linden

Hawthorn

Elderflower

Rose

Passionflower

Skullcap

Peppermint (stimulating)

Cacao (stimulating)

Most of the preceding list of herbs are normally categorized as relaxing nervines. Relaxing nervines do just what they sound like: they help to relax your nervous system. Stimulating nervines don’t stimulate in the caffeine sense; instead, they are uplifting and stimulate digestion. And some nervines do both at the same time! Also, each different nervine has its own particular chemical constituents that aid in different ways on top of the nervine qualities. For example, hawthorn is amazing for heart health, passionflower and skullcap are helpful in aiding sleep, and chamomile is known especially for helping with pain, cramps, indigestion, and fever.

As with anything, consult your doctor as needed and don’t take huge doses of any herb over short periods of time. But do think about branching out and trying different nervines to see what works well to support your particular needs. 

And since summer is fast approaching here in the northern hemisphere, I am going to leave you with a simple, cooling and soothing infusion recipe featuring nervine herbs. This is a favorite of mine! You can make this with fresh or dried herbs (I grow all of these in my mini herb garden); drink it hot or cold (my summer preference is definitely cold); and sun brew, cold brew overnight in the fridge, or infuse with hot water (I usually prefer to cold brew or sun brew). Regardless of how you make it, the soothing properties of these nervine herbs are a refreshing way to take in a bit of calm.

Soothing Summer Tea:

•Lemon balm – 2-3 parts

•Peppermint – 1 part

•Spearmint – 1 part

•Rosemary – 1 part

•Catnip – .5 part

•Chamomile – .5-1 part

If making with fresh herbs in a large jar, go heavier on the lemon balm and mints and lighter on the other herbs. Also, if drinking this cold, it’s great with a slice or two of lime tossed in. It’s crisp, refreshing, calming, cooling, and supportive — mind and body relief!

Obviously mental health is a complex issue and each person’s medical and therapeutic needs are extremely different. Herbs won’t solve or prevent problems or fulfill all your needs, but they can be a wonderful ally as part of a daily holistic approach.

Which nervine herbs are your favorite mental health allies?

Categories
Herbs and Herbalism

Herb Profile: Nettle

Hey there, Herbology Faeries! Since spring is almost here, I thought I’d share a new herb profile today about the herb I most associate with early spring: nettle.

Nettle, or stinging nettle, is a sign of early spring because in many places it flourishes during this time. Nettle is also a beneficial spring ally in aiding with seasonal allergies, nourishing and toning body systems after the winter, fighting inflammation, and much more. Folk traditions see nettle as a protective ally, helping with not only healing but also courage and banishing, and it’s not hard to see why when you encounter its prickles!

I know there are many who forage fresh nettles in the spring. There are many benefits to consuming local, fresh nettles. That said, not everyone has local nettles available or are not able to get out there and brave the stings to collect them fresh. That’s okay—high quality dried nettle can be purchased from small online apothecaries or Mountain Rose Herbs.

Nettle is a salty, slightly bitter, cooling and drying herb. It is nutrient dense, full of fiber, iron, calcium, and magnesium. Not only is nettle used to support allergies and to nourish the body, but it’s said to aid menstrual issues, eczema, fatigue, arthritis, and more. It’s a wonderful herb to consume daily as a holistic health aid for maintaining energy and health. The main safety considerations with nettles are the stings if you are working with fresh nettles (use gloves and blanch the leaves before consumption), and the diuretic effect the herb has—you might need to adjust your intake based on how strongly this affects you. 

I do drink nettle in tea—it goes well combined with herbs like mint and rose. I am also intrigued with the idea of using nettle as food! You see many instances of this online: nettle pesto, nettle soup, even dried nettle used in baking. I am experimenting with using nettle in homemade ramen recipes for a salty, mineral-y kick and added nutrition!

Here is a simple springtime tea recipe featuring nettle, to get you started with this wonderful ally!

Daily Nettle Boost:

• 1 part nettle

• 1 part tulsi

• 1 part peppermint

• 1/2 part rosemary

This can be hot-brewed by the cup if you prefer it in small doses. You can also hot or cold brew it in a larger batch in a glass jar. If cold brewing, the longer you let it brew, the more helpful constituents will be infused into your tea. I’ve run across some sources that say you should hot brew nettle and let it infuse for 4+ hours to reap the full benefits, but I prefer my nettle a bit weaker and more palatable than that—to keep me coming back to it! 

Have you tried nettles? How do you like to prepare them, or how do you think you would like to if you’re new to them?

———————

Sources:

• Rosalee de la Foret, Alchemy of Herbs

• Herb Mentor’s Stinging Nettle monographs 

• Sarah Farr, Healing Herbal Teas

Categories
Herbs and Herbalism

Herb Profile: Rosemary

It’s been awhile, Herbology Faeries! Life has been chaos for me lately, with my wildlings’ school year beginning and all the changes involved with that. But, I am taking a moment to slow down and share with you about a recent favorite herbal ally: rosemary.

Many people think of rosemary as a primarily culinary herb, but it’s so much more than that! There are good reasons the Owens women in the Practical Magic books and movie say to “plant rosemary by your garden gate.”

Rosemary is a pungent, warming, drying, and aromatic herb. According to the plant monograph in Learning Herbs’s Herb Mentor database, rosemary boasts “carminative, circulatory stimulant, hepatic, antimicrobial, stimulating/relaxing nervine, [and] antioxidant” properties. Its uses include “mental stimulation, digestion, colds/flu, fungal infections, hair wash, food preservation, [and] skin protection.” It can be used in many applications, like teas, tinctures, skin and hair products, and food. Traditional wisdom attributes remembrance and protection to rosemary, as well.

Basically, use rosemary as much as you can. It is an herb you can’t go wrong with, because it adds so many benefits to your life and tastes amazing! Lately I have been taking a brain-boosting tincture that includes herbs good for memory and mental acuity like rosemary (of course), gotu kola, ginkgo, and sage. While the intended use of the tincture is for brain health, I notice a very marked calming effect when I take this tincture! Rosemary has always been a culinary favorite of mind, but I’ve also realized that I need to explore more therapeutic and broader uses for the herb because it’s just one that really jives well with me.

And now it’s recipe time! Rosemary pairs amazingly well with grapefruit, so this is a fun fizzy drink (alcoholic or not, it’s equally amazing either way)!

Rosemary Grapefruit Fizz

•Rosemary tincture or bitters (store-bought or homemade; see my post on tincture-making!)

•Grapefruit soda OR grapefruit juice & soda water & simple syrup

•Optional: gin or whiskey
(You could also sub rosemary simple syrup for the tincture / bitters if you’re going the juice and soda water route!)

Are you a fan of rosemary? Which ways do you like to work with this herb?