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Natural Herbs to Calm the Sympathetic Nervous System

author image Deirdre Denholm
Deirdre Denholm launched her professional writing career in 2010. She is a graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design, Toronto, a certified personal trainer and teaches aqua aerobics, yoga and cycle. Denholm also holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in English literature and psychology from York University, Toronto.
Natural Herbs to Calm the Sympathetic Nervous System
Next time you are feeling stressed, try some calming herbs. Photo Credit tea time image by Patrizier-Design from Fotolia.com

When your nervous system is reacting to stress, certain herbs can help calm you down. The sympathetic nervous system causes the "fight-or-flight" response in the body, to mobilize you to deal with stressors. The heart pounds, palms sweat, breathing becomes quick and shallow. Sometimes you need something to take the edge off these physiological reactions. However, use caution when using herbs and do not use them for extended lengths of time. Check with your physician about the safety of any herb you are using. Also, the use of herbs may not be advisable if you are pregnant.


Try passionflower herb for nerves -- also known as Passiflora incarnata. Research suggests passionflower is as effective as the tranquillizer oxazepam in an out-patient population. Those were the conclusions of a study conducted at the Roozbeh Psychiatric Hospital, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, in Tehran, Iran. The experiment, published in the October 2001 issue of the "Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics," found that 45 drops of passionflower extract given daily for four weeks was as effective as 30 milligrams of the anti-anxiety drug oxazepam. To use this remedy, you can put drops of the extract into a non-alcoholic drink. Be sure to pay attention to any warnings on the herbal medicine bottle.

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According to Janmejai K Srivastava, Eswar Shankar and Sanjay Gupta of the Department of Urology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, chamomile herb is an effective sedative. Chamomile contains a substance called apigenin. This may act on the nervous system in similar ways to benzodiazepines -- a class of drugs used for sedation. To get the benefits, you can drink chamomile tea or use the extract in drop form. Buy chamomile essential oil for aromatherapy -- but do not take this internally.


The University of Maryland Medical Center suggests that skullcap herb may be useful as a calming aid. They state that American skullcap, or Scutellaria lateriflora, is not the same as Chinese skullcap, Scutellaria baicalensis. Use the American skullcap to help you relax. Skullcap is available in liquid drops or use the dry herb as a tea. The UMMC cautions that you only use trusted herbal preparations and do not exceed the recommended dose. Skullcap may interact with other medications, so check with your doctor before taking it.


Valerian, Valeriana officinalis, is a popular and potent stress-relieving herb. You can make tea from the powdered root, but it is more commonly available in capsule form or tincture. Valerian as a tea blends well with other calming herbs, as it is not very tasty on its own. Valerian may cause dizziness or drowsiness, so be cautious after taking the herb. Try it at bedtime, as it is especially helpful if you have difficulty falling asleep. Do not take valerian with alcoholic beverages and other medications. If in doubt, speak to a physician before using.

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