Neurological disorders affect the brain, spine, and all the nerves in between. And while they can’t be cured, don’t lose hope as some herbs can help manage these disorders. Your nervous system consists of two parts. The peripheral nervous system is made of nerves that stem from the spine and throughout the body. And the central nervous system includes the brain and spinal cord.
Neurons, or nerve cells, rule the show. They “talk” by sending chemical messengers called neurotransmitters.1 However, neurological disorders can mess with those messages.2 So, do your nerve cells need some extra love? Here’s what you can use.
Five Herbs For Nerve Protection
1. Gingko Biloba For Nerve Health
While gingko biloba has more than 40 compounds, its flavonoids come out on top. These antioxidants protect the nerves, making them useful for neurological disorders.3 Gingko has actually been shown to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Proceedings of Nutrition Society, it reduces inflammation and suppresses beta-amyloid, the protein marker of Alzheimer’s.4
Fresh gingko works well in smoothies and baked goods. If you’re not a fan, try it as a tea or pill.
2. Milk Thistle For Nerve Health
In a 2002 study by the Journal of Molecular Neuroscience, milk thistle extract was tested on neurons. The neural cells not only grew faster but lived longer too. Better yet, milk thistle even protected the cells from oxidative stress.5 While more human studies are needed, there’s definitely potential for nerve problems.
Avoid this herb if you’re allergic to ragweed, yarrow, chamomile, daisies, marigolds, or chrysanthemums. They’re related to milk thistle, so be careful. You should also skip milk thistle if you have a hormone-related condition like breast or uterine cancer.6
3. Valerian For Nerve Health
Valerian can do more than put you to sleep. It increases gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that regulates nerve cells.7 This effect on nerve stimulation may also reduce depressive symptoms.8 Remember not to drive or use heavy equipment while taking valerian as it makes you tired and drowsy. Play it safe and take it before bed.9
4. Skullcap For Nerve Health
Skullcap promotes sleep and nerve health! The dried roots contain a neuroprotective flavonoid called baicalein. This compound promotes nerve growth and inhibits alpha-synuclein, a protein linked to Parkinson’s disease.10 As a sedative, skullcap shouldn’t be taken with alcohol and antidepressants. Chinese skullcap might also reduce blood sugar, so be cautious if you have diabetes.11
5. Green Tea For Nerve Health
When it comes to nerve health, ordinary green tea is pretty extraordinary. This popular drink is teeming with antioxidative polyphenols, which protect neurons from oxidative stress, a process that worsens brain function. Polyphenols can even enhance the growth and function of neural cells.12
To manage nerve problems with green tea, brew yourself a cup. Add honey and lemon for a splash of flavor. It does have some caffeine, so avoid drinking this at night.
How To Use
The herbs on this list are available as teas, pills, or liquid extracts. Always read the label before consuming.
Avoid herbs if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Yes, that includes green tea!13 If you’re on medication, talk to your doctor before taking the herbs. Their drug-like effects might interfere or enhance your medication.
These herbs won’t reverse or cure disease. Instead, they’ll slow down progression and prevent the risk of complications.
|↑1||Neurological Disorders. University of California, San Francisco.|
|↑2||What are the parts of the nervous system? National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.|
|↑3||Gingko biloba. University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|↑4||Wightman, Emma L. “Potential benefits of phytochemicals against Alzheimer’s disease.” Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 76, no. 2 (2017): 106-112.|
|↑5||Kittur, Smita, Skuntala Wilasrusmee, Ward A. Pedersen, Mark P. Mattson, Karen Straube-West, Chumpon Wilasrusmee, Burk Jubelt, and Dilip S. Kittur. “Neurotrophic and neuroprotective effects of milk thistle (Silybum marianum) on neurons in culture.” Journal of Molecular Neuroscience 18, no. 3 (2002): 265-269.|
|↑6||Milk thistle. University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|↑7, ↑9||Valerian. University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|↑8||Carpenter, Linda L., Francisco A. Moreno, Mitchel A. Kling, George M. Anderson, William T. Regenold, David M. Labiner, and Lawrence H. Price. “Effect of vagus nerve stimulation on cerebrospinal fluid monoamine metabolites, norepinephrine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid concentrations in depressed patients.” Biological psychiatry 56, no. 6 (2004): 418-426.|
|↑10||Yu, X., G. He, and G. Du. “Neuroprotective effect of baicalein in patients with Parkinson’s disease.” Zhongguo Zhong yao za zhi= Zhongguo zhongyao zazhi= China journal of Chinese materia medica 37, no. 4 (2012): 421-425.|
|↑11||Skullcap. University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|↑12||Arab, Horrolein, Soleiman Mahjoub, Karimollah Hajian-Tilaki, and Mehdi Moghadasi. “The effect of green tea consumption on oxidative stress markers and cognitive function in patients with Alzheimer’s disease: A prospective intervention study.” Caspian journal of internal medicine 7, no. 3 (2016): 188.|
|↑13||Green tea. University of Maryland Medical Center.|