CONNECTION WITHIN AND WITHOUT
When we heal the nervous system we heal our body’s ability to connect, both to ourselves and to the Earth. Bi-directional communication is infinitely occurring between our bodies and the world around us. The language of our body is sensation and the extent to which we are able to receive, perceive, integrate, and intuit is dependent on the state and health of our nerves and the broad, interconnected system they make up.
Like all tissues in the body, the tissues that form the vast communication network of the nervous system require nourishment and toning to function with ease and deft. As we engage in practices that feed and support the nervous system, we deepen our capacity for resilience and find ourselves in greater co-herence with the Earth. In this open, grounded, attuned place, we can experience the safety born of our belonging to the Earth, and receive the messages that the Earth holds for us.
PRACTICES FOR NOURISHING THE NERVOUS SYSTEM
Consuming Healthy Fats & Hydration
Fat helps to create healthy brain and nerve tissue. The myelin sheath that forms around nerves, including those in the brain and spinal cord, is made up of fat and allows electrical impulses to transmit quickly and effectively along the nerve cells. If myelin is damaged, these impulses slow down and can misfire. Observe the essential fatty acid content of your diet, and consider Omega-3 supplementation. Try topping meals with healthy, organic oils (such as extra virgin olive oil). Cook with heat-safe oils (like avocado or refined coconut oil), bring nuts & seeds into the diet (we love to top our meals with hemp, flax and chia). Drink plenty water, especially water that isn’t “empty,” or adding trace minerals to filtered water. Or even better, drinking teas/nourishing herbal infusions (like Fill the Well) that impart vitamins and minerals into the water making it easily absorbable and recognizable to our bodies.
Covering your body in herbal-infused oils (or just oil itself) is a simple, restorative way to soothe the nerves, and feed them with the fat they need to function properly. This practice also puts us in touch, literally, with our bodies, which is a great way to check in and return to the body if we have had a long day, a stressful encounter, or just want to prepare ourselves for entering into the world (so full of toxins - environmental and energetic). Our days are often overstimulating and tax our bodies, minds and spirits. An oilination practice is an opportunity to return to our center - nourished, grounded and flexible - all qualities that breed resilience in the nervous system. We love to work with oils infused with nervous-system-tonifying herbs like St. John’s Wort and lavender (check out the oil included in the Summer Wellness Box), as well as mugwort, rose and countless others (our Yarrow, Rose & Mugwort infused oil is a must-see). Many herbs impart their medicine into oil well and shine in this sensory-immersive mode of application. As herbalist, Kami McBride puts it, “Your nervous system is the gateway between you and the world. It’s the mechanism through which we sense, perceive, and act. If we nourish this system by oiling the skin — our largest organ, with countless nerve endings — we can stay grounded even in chaotic times.” If you only have a few moments, consider oiling your face, hands and arms before setting out for the day, or your feet just before bed. A ritual so grounding and so accessible.
Energetic Hygiene with Smoke Medicine and Hydrosol
Burning plants as medicine is a ritual as old as fire, and working with plants in this way is a great way to reset the nervous system. Whether it is as a means of honoring the beginning of a new day, clearing our field after a trying event or exchange, or blessing our space with intention, it is a practice both powerful and pleasurable for the senses and, therefore, the nervous system. Hydrosols (the waters of the plants captured through distillation) can be used in this same way, as a cleansing spray for your energetic field. With the senses engaged in the experience of the mist, you create intentional space to return to the present, bring energy downward into the Earth, and know you are held. We have two mists in the shop that were formulated for this purpose, but in two different expressions: Rosemary, Eucalyptus and Mugwort to promote feelings of trust and surrender, intuitive clarity, and grace amidst change, and the Clary Sage, Rose & Tobacco mist, eliciting a calm, receptive energetic state, connection to the Earth's natural bio-rhythms, and groundedness.
Plant Sits/Green Breath Practice
We find sitting with the plants, opening ourselves to the green world and being present in loving communion with them is a catalyst towards walking in co-creative partnership. We are inextricably linked to our plant relatives through the process of give and take, we breathe in what they breathe out, and vice versa. We communicate with them through our overt physical senses (we see them, we smell them, we hear them moving in the breeze, we feel the softness of their leaves or the poke of their thorns, we taste them in our food and herbal medicine). And through our more subtle senses, noting the attractiveness of fruits when they are ripe and ready to eat or the cues that we should keep our distance from our possibly poisonous plant friends. Engaging in this exchange with plants, both subtle and overt, is a beautiful way to connect back into our most ancient reciprocal relationship. Being present with and honoring the very substance that gives us life is so nourishing and regulating for our nervous systems. We enter a place of belonging. Check out our post on Reciprocity and Co-Creative Partnership to learn more about the deepening of this relationship, and enjoy our 12-minute Guided Green Breath Practice audio recording there. We hope it invites you into a space of nurturance, care, receptivity and honoring.
HERBS THAT TEND TO THE NERVOUS SYSTEM
Many herbs have an impact on the function and health of the nervous system and the many ways the nervous system manifests in our daily experience, from our movement and interaction with our environment, to our emotions, memory, and reasoning. Consumed consciously, with presence and openness to receive the wisdom of the medicine contained within, the plants have a lot to teach us. We call the category of herbs that impact the nervous system, Nervines, and there are a multitude of types. Depending on your innate constitution and your current picture of health, different nervines will support you best in the pursuit to nourish your nervous system.
Most universal among them are the herbs that offer toning and deep nourishment to the nervous system. Due to the current world we live in, the nervines that are calming and quieting to the system are quite likely to be appropriate/supportive on your journey to find balance in the nervous system and heal into connection with the Earth. And lastly, are the nervines that are stimulating and activating, having a direct effect on the nervous system that for some can be over-stimulating to the point of disconnection from the body, though incredibly important for others in the appropriate time and place on the path to deepening the nervous system’s resilience.
Herbs for toning and deep nourishment of the nervous system: to build and strengthen the nervous system, these herbs are sometimes referred to as trophorestoratives. Useful for those needing the deep nourishment necessary to “refill the well” or combat burnout and depletion. These herbs create an opportunity for growing a resilient and adaptive nervous system that is responsive (yet not overstimulated) and balanced (yet not sedated). Ideal in times of recovering from illness, when regaining health and strength, for fatigue/exhaustion/weakness/depletion, and for general health and wellbeing of this system.
Herbs for calming and quieting the nervous system: to welcome relaxation to an overstimulated, anxious and tense system that needs an opportunity to return to balance. Anxiety and an overly active nervous system can send us up and out, fractured and disconnected from our bodies and from the Earth. In our culture, this type of activation and stimulation is often lauded as it can exist under the guise of productivity. But connection to ourself and to source can lead to the type of productivity that exists in flow. This is where creativity thrives and our natural, healthy, embodied expression can emerge.
Herbs for stimulating and activating the nervous system: for a nervous system that may be depressed, apathetic, or expressing a lack of vitality in the form of malaise or lack of get-up-and-go. To be used with care, as overstimulation of the nervous system is harmful and leads to increased disconnection from self and the natural world. But these allies can be incredibly useful in appropriate times of need (especially alongside reparative/tonifying herbs) to bring a boost that can be built upon through nourishment and tending.
MEDICINE FOR THE NERVOUS SYSTEM
Most of the medicines in The Shop were formulated with the nourishment of the nervous system in mind. This system is so fundamentally important. That said, we've highlighted a few that hold the nervous system as their primary focus.
We pray this information will help acquaint you more deeply with the innate wisdom of your body and the important place it occupies upon the Earth. Our healing is the medicine that the Earth needs now, and the nervous system is an ideal place for healing to begin.