Let’s be honest- it’s been an intense and crazy year. Or two. At this point, your nervous system is probably a liiiitttttttle fried, overstimulated and tapped out. One way you can offer yourself some simple, yet profound self-love and gentleness is by brewing a warm cup of tea packed full of herbs that nourish your nervous system. If you picture your nerves as electrical wires that are sparking and turning into little crispy critters from being so fried, then these herbs act as a grounding force to nourish, moisten and soothe our systems so we're not so on edge.
One of my long-standing favourite recipes for soothing & nourishing the nerves, encouraging the body to switch into “rest & digest” mode, rather than “fight or flight” while increasing the body’s resilience to stress is my Nourish Your Nerves herbal tea recipe!
Before I reveal my tried and true recipe (this is my most popular tea blend for both its effects in the body and the delicious taste), let's dive into the herbs themselves and what they can offer us, medicinally.
Gotu kola (Centella asiactica)
I love this plant! Gotu Kola comes to us from Ayurvedic medicine (India!) and has been used for thousands of years in this tradition to help bring mental clarity, rejuvenate nerve and brain cells, as well as deeply calm the spirit. It’s one of my favorite adaptogens, which means it increases the body’s resilience, making it easier to cope with the harmful impacts of stress (hello!). It's useful for anxiety, depression, exhaustion, mental and physical fatigue, loss of memory and drug withdrawal (great in combination with skullcap and oats!). Gently energizes and stimulates memory, concentration and focus, all while calming the nervous system. Similar to Skullcap, one of its mechanisms of actions is its effect on GABA, the neurotransmitter that inhibits nerve cells, which results in slowing down overactivity in the nervous system. Gotu Kola is a fantastic herb to keep the effects of stress at bay, while calming and uplifting the whole nervous system.
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
Lemon balm is such a lovely herb because it’s uplifting to the spirit and can lighten some of the emotional heaviness that comes with depression, anxiety and overwhelm. It’s in the mint family, so it has those lovely essential oils that make this cup of tea smell heavenly. As a carminative herb with an affinity for the digestive system, it inevitably encourages the body to kick into parasympathetic mode (also known as “rest and digest”), which promotes calm. We don’t think of it, but when we’re stressed our body will reroute energy, blood and nutrients away from the digestive system, which can lead to digestive issues such as increased gas, bloating, cramping, bowel habit changes, decreased nutrient assimilation and sluggishness in the digestive tract. Lemon balm will swoop in to support digestion, lighten the mood and calm the nervous system.
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
Most of us know that chamomile is in basically every sleepytime tea blend, and for good reason! Did you know that chamomile can deeply calm the nervous system and in the herbal world is known as the “Mother of the Gut” for its efficacy in promoting digestive health? Yup, similar to Lemon balm, Chamomile will encourage a “rest and digest” state. Ever heard of stress ulcers? That’s a real thing! Like I mentioned above, when we’re in a state of “fight or flight” our body redirects energy to other body systems that need it more to escape an emergency (like our hearts, lungs and big muscle groups). The acid balance in our stomachs can also become disrupted, which leads to ulceration. Chamomile is an excellent herb to soothe an irritated digestive tract by promoting the healing of tissue and bringing down inflammation. Health starts in the gut! And when stressed, our digestive tract is inevitably affected. Not only does this tea blend encourage deep relaxation, but it encourages and supports healthy digestion all around!
Milky Oats (Avena sativa)
Oh oats, how wonderful and nourishing you are indeed! Honestly, I use this amazing medicine ALL.THE.TIME. In herbal lingo it’s known as a nervotrophorestative or a nervine tonic- a very fancy way of saying it restores, rejuvenates and nourishes the nervous system on a deep level. Oats are a fantastic remedy for anyone who has a nervous system that has been exhausted over time, whether that be from adrenal burnout related to stress and overwork, traumatic experiences, chronic pain (neurological or other), insomnia or addiction. Speaking of addiction, anytime someone is withdrawing from a substance that the body has depended on, the nervous system is going to freak out a bit (or a lot). Oats can help with symptoms like irritability and edginess that are really common with nicotine, alcohol or any drug withdrawal. Not only do oats calm an over agitated nervous system, useful for anxiety, but the seeds are thymoleptic, which means they have a mild “antidepressant” and uplifting effect.
It doesn’t stop there- Oats are also very nutritive, containing vitamins and minerals like B vitamins and calcium! So when I say it’s nourishing to the nervous system, I mean oat medicine literally feeds nervous system cells by providing the building blocks they need to function optimally. As if that isn’t enough, it’s one of the rare herbs that increases moisture (kapha, yin) in the body. If you think about the metaphor of the nervous system being fried (dry and brittle), then you can see how adding the soothing, nourishing and moistening quality of this incredible plant would bring relief to an overburdened system.
Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum)
Holy Basil has been used for thousands of years in the Ayurvedic tradition to bring lightness and spiritual clarity to one’s being. It can lift heavy moods to lighten the spirit, so it can be a great ally for mild depression, and also sharpens the mind. As a powerful adaptogen, holy basil can increase one’s resilience to stress, minimizing its impacts. As a perfect addition to the Lemon balm and Chamomile, Holy Basil is a carminative too! So it supports digestive processes. An extra bonus, especially during the winter months and during COVID-19, is that Holy Basil has antiviral properties to keep the bugs at bay while keeping your immune system healthy and strong.
Alright, now onto the juicy bit- the recipe itself!
Nourish Your Nerves Herbal Tea Recipe
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis), dried - 1 part
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita), dried - 1 part
Milky Oats (Avena sativa), dried- 1 part
Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica), dried- 1 part
Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum), dried- 1 part
Mixing Instructions: Simply mix these herbs in equal parts into a big mixing bowl. Head’s up- It’s going to smell delicious! Pack into an airtight container and store away from light in a cool, dry place.
Brewing Guidelines: Use 1-2 tsp of herbal mixture per 1 cup of boiling water. Pour the boiling water over the herbs and let sit for 5-10 minutes with the lid on. You want to keep those delicious essential oils inside your tea, not out in the atmosphere! Plus, the volatile oils are part of the medicinal properties of the plants, even more reason to keep them in your tea ;) Enjoy this tea as often as you need it! I recommend 2 cups daily.
Safety Note*: Of course you always want to consult with a health or herbal practitioner before taking herbs, especially if you're pregnant, nursing or on medication of any kind, just to be sure! This blend is safe for nursing mamas. If pregnant, omit the Gotu Kola and Holy Basil and stick to a simple blend of Chamomile, Oats and Lemon balm.
As you can see, this tea is a powerhouse blend! Not only will it deeply nourish your nervous system to promote an uplifted, yet grounded calm, but it also encourages digestive health, immune support and increased resilience to stress.
What are you waiting for? Go get your chill and relaxation on with this incredibly nourishing, grounding and uplifting tea!
Here's to your nervous system feeling soothed and supported.
With all my herbal love,
READY TO GET TO THE ROOT CAUSE OF YOUR HEALTH ISSUES, NATURALLY? BOOK A CONSULTATION WITH ME SO WE CAN DO IT TOGETHER!
*The information about the use of herbs contained in this article is not meant to be a substitute for seeking the advice of a qualified health care provider. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always consult your health care provider about the use of herbs and essential oils, especially during pregnancy, when nursing a baby or with children.