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Herbal Allies for Overwhelm

There is no other system in the body that has a greater connection between the physical and psychological aspects of our being then in the nervous system... all psychological processes are anchored in the nervous system. Stress is as much of a somatic experience as it is an emotionally one as it changes the chemistry of our body and the way we feel, think and act. Though stress is an evolutionary reaction in our mammalian bodies, there is a marked difference in the modern context of triggers as they tend to be more and more on the psychological level then on the physical. Your body does not differentiate between triggers that activate fight or flight responses, it all ends up being the exact same response whether it was initiated by the necessity to run away from a wooly mammoth or because you were watching the news. When stress is triggered by things like the news or from societal and interpersonal relationships it can be disorienting and difficult to respond appropriately as we are in new terrain for the human species in dealing with more and more triggers of this nature then ever before.

Herbal formulas crafted specifically for these instances relieve the overwhelming response of the initial fight or flight reaction where it is most difficult to ascertain whether or not we are responding intentionally. Most of our reactions are so foundational in our experience with the world that they have become unconscious and forceful habits. The use of herbs give us that precious pause, a necessary moment to stay connected with yourself and redirect behavior into more positive outlets as the formulas bring the nervous system back into a calmer and more responsive state. Herbs are not to be used as a crutch to forever rely upon, rather they give us that crucial opportunity to embrace new habits and responses that we were not quiet able to achieve before. Herbal Medicine contributes a great amount in its ability to strengthen and restore the nervous system as a whole as well as the nerve tissue itself. They give us a bit more endurance, of hope, helping us to stay present with ourselves and also look forward to the times to come. In the instances of the initial stress response, a formulated tincture and prepared body oil are the most effective preparations, something that you can readily reach for in the heat of the moment to coax the edge off and get you into a more grounded mindset. Though there are many herbal nervines that can be utilized in situations like these, there is no other herb I reach for more in these instances then Blue Vervain.

Blue Vervain is a specific remedy for these times as its distinct and enduring capacity to support us in times of acute stress and overwhelm are so complete. Vervain has a unique ability to quickly and persuasively calm the overexcited nervous system and to guide us into a more gentle inner space for us to respond from. Vervain has a very specific effect on tension in the neck and shoulder area which happens to be the seat of unprocessed emotions in many of us, it encourages the release of tensity held in this area to move downward and be properly processed. Being strongly bitter, Blue Vervain promotes digestion by optimizing stimulation of gastric juices as well as imparting a toning effect on the liver enabling essential detoxification processes to occur. Our ability to digest the situations and circumstances of our life has a very literal expression in our ability to digest our food and toxins. As we optimize our bodies metabolic and digestive pathways, we also optimize our ability to digest and assimilate experiences in ways that encourage us to grow and not to hold us back.

There are two species of Vervain used medicinally, Verbena officinales and Verbena hastata, the former being a native species to the U.S and the latter of Europe. Though much of the herbal literature speaks to using the species interchangeably I have found that they have subtle differences and like using both species in equal measure in a formula as it tends to resonate deeply for the individual. Though Vervain has several other qualities in which we could explore therapeutically, for the sake of this introduction it is potent enough to hold the understandings of its enduring influence upon calming the nervous system, releasing tension in the body (specifically in the neck and shoulder region), and supporting liver and digestive function for optimum metabolizing of food and experiences.

I formulated a special tincture with Blue Vervain that has been a dear ally for me during these times. Both species of Vervain and the Milky Oats where grown in my gardens this last summer in 2020, they hold a special kind of knowing and medicine for these times. Click here to take a closer look. May it ground and nourish you in times of need.

Herbally yours,


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