Tea, Food and Community

Tea, Food and Community

Monday, March 23, 2015

An Introduction to Nervine Herbs for A Change of Season

The first glimpses of spring are upon us at last! The warm weather drew me outside yesterday, and I was compelled to literally jump for joy in the sunshine. If I ever doubt my connection to the earth, the change of seasons always reminds me of it. As a new student of herbal medicine, I find myself primed to notice the ways in which the weather can effect my eating habits, my energy, my mood, and my movements. It has been a particularly cold, and snowy winter that's had me feeling somewhat weighted down and lethargic. This rush of spring energy comes as a great relief for me, and I imagine for many of you.

We know this is only the first glimmer of warmer weather and we're due for that wild back and forth ride of cold to warm, to cold and back again to warm. As lovely and expansive as this time of year can feel, it's transitional nature stirs up our energy in an unstable, choppy manner. For some of us, this can cause a greater intensity of emotion, some feelings of uncertainty, perhaps accompanied by racing thoughts and some difficulty relaxing and sleeping.  I always feel a bit like I'm emerging from hibernation and my heart and mind are awakening again to a faster rhythm. I encourage everyone to feel into the uplifting energy of spring, and ride the wave of seasonal transition with self-compassion and grace.

Herbal medicine is rooted in qualitative experience, and works best when we listen to and connect with our physical bodies. One tool that has been personally helpful in cultivating this awareness is a simple meditation practice. Taking just five minutes each day to sit quietly with closed eyes to notice what emotions are present and pinpoint where they currently reside in your physical body can do wonders. Not only does this help to name what you're feeling, it calls you to be embodied in that emotion in the moment. This practice also helps to slow and ground us, which is useful during this time of year.

We can combine this type of meditative practice with certain calming herbs for added benefit in weathering the end of winter. Nervines are herbs that serve to calm, nourish, and restore our nervous system. Passiflora was named for one such herb, Passionflower. This herb is not only beautiful to look at, it is an appropriate and powerful herb for times of intensity. Passionflower's sweet and slightly bitter taste help to ground and anchor our spirit. It helps to slow our racing thoughts, allows us to better digest our emotional energy, and helps relax and open our hearts and minds. This herb acts to calm and cushion us against what craziness may be occurring in our lives without sedating us or pulling us out of reality. I have found myself intuitively pulling it off the shelf to blend into various teas in the past week, so I am naturally drawn to write about it here. Try a blend with tulsi, nettles, linden, plantain, passionflower, damiana, milky oats, rose petals and hawthorn berries for a calm, nourishing, heart-easing effect before bed.

As a new and excited herbal explorer, I am pleased to be able to share some of my journey and insights with you here. I'll be the first to admit I am no expert in this field, and I am grateful for the opportunity to talk herbs and discover more about them with you. 
One of Kerry's recent personalized herbal tea blends: Heart's Ease.
Kerry Newton is one of the Goddesses at Passiflora. A student of herbalism, she is available to introduce you to the many different herbs available in our apothecary. She can also create you your own personalized herbal tea blend. 

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