The nervous system responds rapidly to variation in your external and internal environment. It works with the endocrine system and together they control major homeostatic functions (maintenance of a stable internal environment in the body). There are three basic functions of the nervous system:
- It receives stimuli from the external and internal environments.
- It will analyse and interpret information.
- It initiates an appropriate and co-ordinated response.
There are two principal parts
1. The central nervous system (CNS) is the brain and spinal cord. Incoming sensory information reaches the brain via spinal and cranial nerves. The brain then sorts it all out and stores memories and issues instructions. Thoughts and emotional responses originate in the CNS, but recent research suggests that hormonal responses are more significant in emotional development and experience. The CNS controls most muscle contraction and glandular secretions.
2. The peripheral nervous system (PNS) receives information from the periphery of the body, such as the skin, as well as deeper organs and tissues and the special senses such as sight and hearing. There are input and output routes. Parts of the nervous system are under voluntary control, but most nerve responses are involuntary.
A freely functioning body is one that is not congested, overheated or inoperative. Rest is vitally important for the nervous system and this comes best of all in the form of sleep. Going to bed early enough improves the quality of sleep; indeed sleep taken between the hours of 10pm and 2am actually doubles its value in terms of quality, relative to that taken after 2am.
It is easy for the nervous system to get out of balance, whether due to injury, inflammation, ongoing stress, oxidative damage, or imbalances in neurotransmitters. Any sort of imbalance or damage in the nervous system will result in it not functioning optimally. And when that happens, it impacts both our physical and mental states.
The excessive electrical charge can build up in the body during the course of each day if we live predominantly on concrete and are constantly exposed to synthetic materials such as nylon carpets, man-made shoes, and so on. The famous remedy of walking barefoot when feeling hyper-nervy, unable to sleep or “nerved-out” really does work and many a patient has found relief and benefits with a bare-footed night foray in the garden! If you have difficulty sleeping, try barefoot walking.
Skin brushing will stimulate the nerve endings and is a great rejuvenator, especially for those who are low, depressed and sluggish.
7 Herbs for nervous system health
There are a large number of all-natural herbs that can be used to support nervous system health. Some are great for protecting your brain and nerves from damage, some help calm things down when you need it, and some keep your mental game sharp.
This herb has been used since ancient Greek and Roman times for treating insomnia and calming people down. It is still commonly used today for conditions like sleep disorders and anxiety.
Valerian root helps calm the nervous system when it is overactive. It can do this by affecting levels of neurotransmitters involved in rest and sleep.
Lemon balm can modulate the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the body, such as GABA. It can positively impact factors related to mood and cognitive performance, helping conditions like anxiety.
Ashwagandha is a medicinal herb commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine. It is one of the most popular adaptogenic herbs (herbs that help the body respond to stress and help it maintain balance).
Rhodiola is a plant that is thought to be able to help people recover better from physical or mental strain and exhaustion.
Passionflower is another great herb for the nervous system, because it has calming effects. It is traditionally used for things like sleep problems, anxiety, concentration issues, and even pain.
Chamomile tea. It is a popular, soothing tea to sip on at bedtime. And for good reason. Chamomile tea actually impacts the nervous system in a way that helps support a healthy sleep cycle.