The Nervine Herbs Guide

The Nervine Herb Guide

Nervines are a class of medicinal herbs and plants which have a beneficial action or supportive effect on the nervous system.

Nervine herbs can be further broken down into three major groups including nervine tonics, nervine relaxants and nervine stimulants.

Some examples of nervine herbs include Avena Sativa, American Skullcap, California Poppy, Chamomile, Gotu Kola, Hops, Kava Kava, Lemon Balm, Passionflower and St. Johns Wort.

They have a long history of usage for treating mild to moderate cases of anxiety and other stress/nervous system related ailments and disorders.

The nervines are one of the most important classes of herbs in herbal medicine and are still woefully underappreciated in the allopathic medical community for their gentle ability to tonify, calm, strengthen and support the nervous system, especially in times of chronic stress and anxiety.

Nervine herbs also typically have a better safety profile overall than most commonly prescribed pharmaceutical drugs for anxiety and stress, which often have the serious side effects such as causing dependence and other issues.

In this guide we are going to discuss some of the most popular nervine medicinal herbs and plants.

Avena Sativa (Oatstraw)

Oatstraw Avena Sativa Mens Health

Avena Sativa also known as Milky Oats and Oatstraw is a gentle but powerful nervine trophorestorative herb with a long history of traditional use as a nervous system remedy.

Avena Sativa is a good source of many nutrients and biologically active phytochemicals including protein, minerals such as calcium, silica, zinc and iron, β-glucan, avenanthramides, indole alkaloid, flavonoids, triterpenoidsaponins, lipids and sterols.

Oatstraw is a great choice of nervine for cases of nervous exhaustion, debility and stress.  One of my favorite ways to take Oatstraw is via a strong infusion using about an ounce of the dried herb left overnight preferably.

As reported by the Commission E, in Europe preparations from the oat herb are used as a nervous system restorative for acute and chronic anxiety and tension, stress and excitation, as well as neurasthenia. [1]

A recent randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial published in 2020 investigated the effects an Avena sativa herbal extract (cognitaven®) had in healthy participants and concluded that Avena Sativa extract has acute cognitive effects, plus chronic supplementation can benefit cognitive function and modulate the physiological response to a stressor. [2]

Type Of Nervine Herb: Nervine Tonic/Trophorestoratives


Chamomile Nervine Herb Guide

Chamomile is one of the best known and the most commonly consumed nervine herbs worldwide with around a million cups of chamomile tea said to be consumed on a daily basis.

One of the most ancient medicinal herbs known to mankind and a member of the daisy family (Asteraceae or Compositae).

Chamomile has a long traditional history of being used as a mild sedative to calm the nerves and reduce anxiety, to treat hysteria, nightmares, insomnia and other sleep problems.

A cup of Chamomile tea not only makes for a delicious healthy beverage, but is also a safe and effective way to unwind and relax the nervous system.

The mild tranquilizer and sedative effects of Chamomile are thought to be potentially due to the flavonoid apigenin, which research has shown binds to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain.

Oral infusion of chamomile is recommended by the German Commission E. [3]

Type Of Nervine Herb: Nervine Relaxant


Hops Nervine Herb Guide

Hops are the flowers (also called seed cones or strobiles) of the hop plant Humulus lupulus.

Commonly known as being a key ingredient in beer making as a bittering agent, hops are also considered to be a medicinal nervine herb with relaxant and mild sedative properties.

Hops has a long traditional history of being used as a nervine herb for anxiety and stress.

The German Commission E has approved the use of hops for sleep disturbances and mood disorders, such as anxiety and restlessness. [4]

Personally, I find hops pairs really well with other relaxant nervine herbs such as skullcap, passionflower and especially valerian root for sleep.

Type Of Nervine Herb: Nervine Relaxant


Lavender Nervine Herbs Guide

Lavender has a long traditional history of being used for promoting relaxation, reducing anxiety, calming the nervous system and aiding sleep.

The German Commission E has approved the use of lavender flowers for addressing mood disturbances, such as restlessness or insomnia, functional abdominal complaints (nervous stomach irritations, intestinal gas), and nervous intestinal discomfort. [5]

One of the most popular essential oils used in aromatherapy, although oral preparations of Lavender oil have also become very popular in recent years due to the promising clinical research.

One study found that the oral Lavender oil preparation (silexan) was as effective as the commonly prescribed anti-anxiety benzodiazepine medication lorazepam in adults with GAD. [6]

Type Of Nervine Herb: Nervine Relaxant

Lemon balm (Melissa Officinalis)

Lemon balm (Melissa Officinalis)

Melissa officinalis also known as Lemon balm is a plant in the mint family and the leaves traditionally used as a gentle mild sedative nervine herb.

Traditional herbalists use Lemom balm to treat nervous disorders, stress, irritability, anxiety and gastrointestinal complaints associated with nervousness such as spasms, due to the anti-spasmodic properties.

Lemon balm is a rich source of numerous phyto-chemicals which possess antioxidant activity including phenolic acids, terpenes, rosmarinic acid and caffeic acids.

The Commission E approved the internal use of lemon balm for nervous sleeping disorders and functional gastrointestinal complaints.

Type Of Nervine Herb: Nervine Relaxant

Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)

Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)

Passiflora incarnata also commonly known as Passionflower is another traditional nervine herb with mild sedative, anxiolytic effect and is a popular sleep aid for those with nervous disorders.

Traditionally a folk remedy used for treating anxiety, nervousness, as an antispasmodic, anthelmintic, for burns, diarrhea, to treat hysteria, neurotic disorders, insomnia and for its calmative nervine properties.

Modern clinical research has found that Passionflower may be an effective herb for the management of generalized anxiety disorder. [7]

Passionflower is a herb that I find pairs really well with Skullcap for additional synergistic nervine benefits.

Type Of Nervine Herb: Nervine Relaxant

Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)

American Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) is one of the most widely used nervine herbs in North American and Western herbal medicine, traditionally used to treat nervous disorders and as a sedative.

Skullcap helps to soothe nervous tension, reducing nervousness, anxiety, excitability and acting as a calming nervous system tonic.

Type Of Nervine Herb: Nervine Relaxant & Trophorestoratives

St. Johns Wort

St. Johns Wort Nervine Herb

St. Johns Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is a popular herbal remedy that has a good evidence-base for treating mild to moderate cases of depression.

Although St. Johns Wort is best known as a natural anti-depressant, it is also traditionally considered to be a nervine tonic herb.

Herbalists traditionally recommend St. Johns Wort as a nervine herb when nerve pain is involved and for nerve regeneration/repair.

Or as a nervous system tonic for individuals with symptoms such as depression, anxiety and emotional tension to calm the nerves.

Studies have shown that hyperforin one of the key constituents of St. Johns Wort was capable of inhibiting the reuptake of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, noradrenaline, GABA, and l-glutamate.

Type Of Nervine Herb: Nervine Tonic/Trophorestoratives


[1] Bioactivity-based development of a wild green oat (Avena sativa L.) extract in support of mental health disorders

[2] Acute and Chronic Effects of Green Oat ( Avena sativa) Extract on Cognitive Function and Mood during a Laboratory Stressor in Healthy Adults: A Randomised, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study in Healthy Humans

[3] Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future

[4] Effects of a hops (Humulus lupulus L.) dry extract supplement on self-reported depression, anxiety and stress levels in apparently healthy young adults: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, crossover pilot study

[5] Nervine Herbs for Treating Anxiety

[6] A multi-center, double-blind, randomised study of the Lavender oil preparation Silexan in comparison to Lorazepam for generalized anxiety disorder

[7] Passionflower in the treatment of generalized anxiety: a pilot double-blind randomized controlled trial with oxazepam

The information in this article has not been evaluated by the FDA and should not be used to diagnose, cure or treat any disease, implied or otherwise.

As always consult a qualified healthcare professional before consuming any medicinal herbs, dietary supplement or making any significant lifestyle change.

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