What are Adaptogen and Nervine Herbs?

What are Adaptogen and Nervine Herbs?

Herbs help our bodies heal and become optimal. They are plants that provide actions to our bodies in many different ways. These actions can include supporting us in times of stress as adaptogen herbs can do for us and as nervine herbs help to ease and nourish our bodies. Using whole herbs are best as it includes all parts of the plants, which can be dried, dehydrated, preserved, steeped, and even fermented. The properties of herbs have been used for centuries to treat various conditions, traditionally studied and passed down throughout history. Although their effects have not always been formally studied, whole herbs have a track record of safety and efficacy when used properly. 

Adaptogens are ‘smart’ herbs that read the body in times of stress and can help balance the body's natural equilibrium. Adaptogens can help support various physiological and behavioral changes. They aid the body to maintain a balanced state during and after stress. It's believed that these herbs can read the body's stress response and help it recover from its imbalance (2). Through a variety of actions and plant energetics, some of the qualities that make these herbs special are their ability to reduce specific stress hormones including cortisol, while improving the resilience of the body in trying times. In addition, adaptogens can help improve a person's ability to maintain a healthy immune system and improve their mental health.

Below are common adaptogens and links with more information to further access:

Ashwagandha - Has been known to rejuvenate the body in times of high stress, extreme fatigue, mental congestion, and anxiety. Learn more with ASHWAGANDHA Alive.

Holy Basil (Tulsi) – Best known to soften reactions to stress, uplift the spirit, and help to cope with the demands of daily life, while promoting overall wellbeing and longevity (3).  As featured in HOLY BASIL Alive.

Rhodiola – This plant is known to provide physical and mental endurance. Assisting with mental clarity in times of stress and anxiety, while provide daily energy and stamina.  Read more about how RHODIOLA Alive can help.

Ginseng – Various types of ginseng assist with different conditions but overall this powerful adaptogen helps the body obtain optimal homeostasis by causing positive physiological changes in response to physical, chemical, or biological stresses (4). Featured in WARRIOR an adaptogenic herbal blend.


Nervine herbs are plants that are used to support the nervous system. There are different categories of nervines, which are nervine stimulants and nervine relaxants. Nervine relaxants provide calming support for the nervous system and include California Poppy, Catnip, Chamomile, Lemon Balm, Passionflower and Valerian. These herbs can help relieve muscle tension, nourish the nervous system and give the body ease (5). Nervine stimulants work directly on invigorating the nervous system and even digestion, see ginger and peppermint as common examples. During times of hyperactivity, depression or tension, stimulants are best avoided as they may heighten these feelings and emotions (6). 

Below are common nervines that help in varies types of stress:

Oat Tops – Gentle tonic herb that helps support the nervous system and can help reduce fatigue and support nerve functioning over time. 

Skullcap - Helps relieve occasional tension and stress, circular thoughts, and nervousness. Can be used throughout the day during stressful situations or at night before bed to calm worried thoughts (5).

California Poppy - Used for its calming properties, this plant helps promote relaxation in those with agitation, seeking rest or suffering from anxiety disorders.

Chamomile - A classic, relaxing nighttime herb, is also helpful for relieving mild daily mental stress and even works to ease gas and bloating in Your Flora COMFORT.

Lavender - A very popular calming herb that is often used in aromatherapy applications for its mild relaxing action which can be used day or night. 

Lemon Balm - Sunshine in plant form providing aromatic pleasure, this herb’s actions help with nervous exhaustion, gloom, and restlessness while also elevating the mood and even relaxes digestion in Your Flora SENSITIVE.

Passionflower - This stunning plant is helpful for relieving general tension, twitching, restlessness, and supporting restful sleep.

Valerian - When sleep seems impossible thanks to nervous energy at night, this potent herb can support deep relaxation for many busy-brained folks. 

Adaptogens which have subtle long-term effects that are not limited to just one action in the body, while nervines act directly upon the nervous system in both long term and acute situations: both tonifying the nervous system for the long haul and calming the body during times of mild to high stress and anxiety. Adaptogens and nervine herbs pair very well together to create balance of the body & mind. 

Learn more with Living Alchemy as an expert in utilizing whole herb combinations, enhanced through fermentation, where ethe body can intuitively recognize and utilize to full effect.


Take our QUIZ to find out which herb will be effective for your stress!

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