Written by Elliott Brinkley, Clinical Herbalist and Owner of Dancing Willow Herbs
If you could ask me what herbs are best suited for everyone during these times, I would say, nervines and calming adaptogens. The reason for this is that our society is running on a high stress state. Even if you don’t have a stressful job or home-life (which many absolutely do), the technological stimuli we are constantly taking in is beyond the scope of what our nervous systems have previously been exposed to on a regular basis. The elevation of cortisol we receive from watching an action movie, scrolling through instagram, or getting the ping of a news alert on your phone is markedly more than you might expect.
Stress is also one of the major contributors to chronic disease. Autoimmune conditions, digestive disorders, insomnia, mood disorders, skin conditions, neurological health, hormonal health and so much more are either cause by or directly affected by stress.
While I am always firstly encouraging folks to remove unnecessary stressors in their life as much as possible, sometimes life circumstances require us to keep moving. I will say, however, that herbs will never be a replacement for rest, a walk in fresh air, or a 20 minute meditation practice- but they can help support us in shifting into a more relaxed state wherever we are.
Nervines are herbs that can shift our nervous system from a sympathetic (fight or flight) state to a parasympathetic (rest and digest) state. Calming adaptogens help to support the HPA axis, which regulates the release of adrenaline. Therefore, calming adaptogens also help promote the parasympathetic nervous system state and help the body in its overall adaptation to stressful times.
Below you will find a recipe for a simple Calming Adaptogenic Herbal Latte. This delicious drink is soothing to the nervous system, and is extremely quick and easy to make (which is necessary if you have a lot going on). I love to drink it as I am winding down for the evening as it helps reduce cortisol, and promote deep and restful sleep. Consuming these calming adaptogens and nervines on a regular basis will help to create deeper shifts and more lasting effects that will not only help to promote calm in the moment, but rewire patterns that promote more calm throughout your day.
Calming Adaptogenic Latte
1 cup hot water
1/2 cup milk (from grass-fed cows, almond, coconut, etc.)
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
1/4 tsp Ashwagandha powder
1/4 tsp Shatavari powder
1/4 tsp Skullcap powder
(Optional) Dash of cardamom, cinnamon, ginger or ground rose petals
(Optional) 1 tsp coconut oil/ghee and/or collagen peptides for blender method
1) Bring water to boil
2) Add powders to a mug
3) Pour water into the mug while stirring in the powders
4) Add honey & vanilla, stir well
5) Either froth milk using a milk frother and then add to the mug, stirring until incorporated. Or if using a blender, blend together with milk, coconut oil and collagen until frothy.
6) Garnish with spices and rose petals if desired.
7) Enjoy while taking deep breaths, and focusing on soothing your nervous system!
If you are interested in learning more about herbs and practices that help to calm and soothe your nervous system, join us for an upcoming class: Calm Your Nerves with Herbs on Wednesday, September 23rd at 6:30 in person at Dancing Willow Herbs. Sign up here: https://dancingwillowherbs.com/collections/classes/products/calm-your-nerves-with-herbs-september-21