Nerve Nutrients: Supplements To Help Maintain A Healthy Nervous System
Author: ANCP Date Posted:14 May 2015
When we talk about “nerves”, we often mean different things. Sometimes, we may mean the physical nerves that are part of our nervous system, transmitting signals to the brain. At other times, we may refer to “nerves” when talking about a feeling of anxiety or stress – a feeling of nervousness.
Sometimes, we just mean the nervous system in a general sense. Whichever way we think of “nerves”, though, nature has provided some great herbs and nutrients for nerve support!
Nutritional support for the nervous system
The nervous system is a complex and important part of the human body. It includes the brain, the spinal cord, and even parts of our eyes. It carries signals between the brain and other parts of the body – vital information that enables us to function properly and experience the world around us. When nerves send sensory signals to the brain, ranging from pain to smell and taste, it is the nervous system that carries those signals. The nervous system is also the means by which the brain controls such basic functions as digestion!
Possibly the best known nutrient that is directly beneficial for the nervous system is omega-3 fish oil. This is known to be important for normal brain and vision development in babies during pregnancy, and it can also help to maintain cognitive function and memory in our brains as we grow older. Another nutrient, lecithin, can also help to maintain a healthy nervous system and is available in capsule form. B-group vitamins play a number of distinct roles in nervous system function, and may be beneficial.
For example, vitamin B3 is essential for the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system, and vitamin B1 is required for the normal functioning of nerves.
Magnesium and calcium are minerals and, like B vitamins, can help maintain a healthy nervous system. Magnesium in particular is helpful in preventing (or at least relieving) muscle cramps, spasms, and “nervous” tics. Amino acids – the basic building blocks of proteins – can also provide nutritional support for general health, including the health of the nervous system. In particular, look out for key amino acids like tyrosine and methionine.
Natural aid for “nerves”
Of course, a physically healthy and well-functioning nervous system doesn’t mean we can’t have “nerves” of the other kind – stress, anxiety, sleeplessness, and so on. Sometimes there are solid reasons for these issues, such as problems in the workplace or in family life. It’s natural to be anxious and stressed when such problems arise. Other times, we can feel nervous or stressed without any apparent cause.
Either way, it makes sense to give ourselves some natural support at these times. If your concern lies with feelings of nervousness and anxiety, rather than with your nervous system, there are also plenty of natural options. Perhaps the best known of these are the B-group vitamins, which can help replenish our system when it is depleted by stress and tension.
Herbs like brahmi can help with concentration, memory, and learning, while also helping to maintain healthy brain function and relieve nervous tension and anxiety. Brahmi is often combined with ginkgo biloba, which can help improve blood flow to the brain and promote healthy brain function.
Valerian has a natural sedative effect, and can help relieve nervous tension and unrest. It can even help relieve insomnia, so we can get a good night’s sleep! Other traditional sleep herbs include hops, passionflower and skullcap.
Another herb, St John’s Wort, can also help with sleep problems and nervous tension, and aid in the management of anxiety. And when it comes to stress and nervous tension, we must always remember one of the most ancient and best-regarded of all stress herbs: ginseng.
Ginseng is justly famous for the help it can provide in adapting to stress and difficult circumstances.
An added bone-us
Perhaps surprisingly, some of those important nutrients for nerves also happen to be great for bone health. Magnesium, along with calcium, is one of the key ingredients for healthy bones. So while you are helping to calm those cramps and spasms, you might well be giving your bones a nutritional boost as well! If bone health is a concern, be sure to maintain healthy vitamin D levels, either through dietary intake or through moderate exposure to the sun – our skin cells can produce vitamin D with the aid of sunlight.
Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium, and hence aids in building and maintaining healthy bones.