These are wild times we are in together.
Things are uncertain.
Things are scary.
But as the famous saying goes: Don’t Panic! ...
Today I wanted to share some ideas on how to support your nervous system during this collective stressful moment in time. I will go over nervous system herbs, mainly. There won't be detailed information on how to prepare them because mostly what you'll find right now will be packaged with instructions in the shops, but I will send a newsletter in the next day or two on how to prepare them if you do happen to find loose leaf. I do suggest preparing them stronger than your average beverage tea if you need a stronger effect. I also offer some suggestions on mindfulness and movement.
So without further teasing, let’s talk pandemic.
Hey. We got this.
We have each other. Whether you are holing up with your family or virtually loving on your friends, we have each other. And right now, I’m seeing so many helpful people out there sending up their heart flags and waving them, giving helpful ideas for homeschooling, offering assistance to elderly and disabled neighbors, sharing ideas on how to spend time while at home, and generally trying to soothe others’ nerves with music and words.
This novel coronavirus has many of us in a high state of stress. We have become more aware of our hygiene practices, more concerned to be in close proximity to people, and are sanitizing everything. We are worried about our livelihoods. We are concerned for our family and friends, our neighbors or ourselves who may be in a high-risk category. We may be working hard to keep a business afloat, our homes paid for, our family cared for and fed, and our kids educated, all while trying to maintain calm when our inner selves are frazzled and dizzy. People may be looking to us for answers or we may be looking outward for some.
This roller coaster that our nervous systems are having to endure may be making it hard to sleep, relax, have rational thought, or concentrate. Perhaps we are lashing out at loved ones, smiling like a loon, or denying the dangers. All of these things are real and normal reactions to stress. Though, I do request that we all take a collective, calm, deep breath, and often, to avoid unnecessary strain for ourselves and others.
Speaking of calm, let’s get right to these nervous system tonics, shall we?
Listed below are some adaptogenic and nervine herbs that I have found to be helpful, not only in these really challenging times, but during our normal everyday lives. I want to make this simple and accessible to you all. Most of what I list can be found in grocery store pharmacies in the supplement section either in capsules or tincture form (alcohol, vinegar or glycerine extract - a good common brand is Herb Pharm) and the tea isles. Traditional Medicinals is a great nationally accessible brand, but loose leaf local options are also a good bet, as are bulk herb shops, though depending on where you are, they are not as available at the moment. I do hear that some herb shops are offering porch pickups of bulk herbs if you choose to go that route.
Remember, herbs are not like drugs, so don’t expect immediate results (except for perhaps scullcap and valerian). But, nevertheless, these plants can have great effects.
ADAPTOGENS are herbs that help the human body adapt to stress, support normal metabolic processes and restore balance. They increase the body’s resistance to physical, biological, emotional, and environmental stressors and promote normal physiologic function. They are rejuvenative.
Some of my favorite adaptogens:
NERVINES are herbs that support the nervous system. They are mildly relaxing without being overly sedative. They can restore emotional balance, and nourish the nerves and the nervous system. They can help with anxiety, stress, irritability, and sleeplessness.
Some of my favorite nervines:
For the herbs listed above with no preparation instructions, they are best made into tea, or a strong infusion. As for what is meant by 'infusions' and 'decoctions', I will send a newsletter out soon to walk you through that. I'm being persuaded to make Instagram videos also so keep and eye out and on Facebook.
BREATHE: Along with these plants, let us remember that we have calming mechanisms built into us naturally! Breathing techniques are a wonder for lowering stress, regulating the adrenals, and returning our entire system to homeostasis. There are meditation and mindfulness apps our there and available for free a lot the the time if you are into that kind of thing. Or you can find a teacher offering sessions online.
Or you can take some time with yourself. Ground your feet in a comfortable position. Maybe your eyes are closed, or focusing on a calm spot on the floor or wall (not a device!). Take some slow deep breaths in through your nose and our through your mouth, letting thoughts come and go, not focusing on them, but being okay with thoughts happening. Just remembering to bring focus back to your breath. Where is it going in your body? Is your throat open and feeling the air in it? Is you chest expanding? Your belly? Are you tight or tense? Try to soften. Let your shoulders relax down. Sit up tall but not tight to allow the breath to ease in and out of your lungs. Maybe find your hands resting over your heart while you do this. Try this throughout your day when you have some quiet minutes. You can even have someone read this to you in a calm, gentle voice while you practice your mindfulness.
For those of you who are familiar with, or want to try tapping, a resource from my dear friend, Leesa Scott, LMT, CST is linked below:
MOVE: Also, let's not forget that movement is so crucial for not only our cardiovascular system, but for our lymphatic and nervous systems as well! Get some movement in every day, whether it be dancing, yoga, walking, jumping jacks, punching bags, wrestling with your kids, whatever! Release some tension through movement.
Also, HYDRATE. Drink drink drink water! And teas! If you need help finding the right tea for you, refer to the list above and find one in the shops that has the herbs you want to try. Also, I have a few teas left in my apothecary that you can find in my web shop.
Friends, I hope this helps you out a bit and gives you some ideas on where to start to help you ease some worries as of late. Remember, this is absolutely not a substitution for any medications that you may be taking as prescribed by your healthcare provider. And I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. This is merely a guide for you to hopefully find some ease to get you through this collective crisis.
Cheers, and well wishes to you all!
Jeanne Wildherb Botanicals
Rekindling relationships between plants and people
Sarah is a community herbalist, raising children, teaching children and adults the ways of herbalism and nature, and handcrafting herbal products for the community.