It is well known that being stressed causes dis-ease. But the fact that disease causes stress is often overlooked. This is why supporting the nervous system is helpful in many (most, all?) health conditions even if the Chief Complaint is not directly related to nerves.
The engagement of the nervous system in long term health care is seen in multiple ways:
1. Stress from ongoing, long term, chronic issues. This happens in many degenerative diseases such as pain, arthritis, cancer, Lyme, decreased mobility, decreased cognition, and autoimmune.
Having the condition for a long time and knowing it may never be resolved.
Are there support groups for this condition? Websites, article, videos?
2. Stress from the anticipation of discomfort coming from the onset of an intermittent issue. This is common with migraines, herpes and insomnia among others.
Example: With the first twinge of migraine pain, the client knows they are in for three days of hell.
There is the present pain, then there is the worry about the near future pain.
3. Stress from not knowing what is happening or what the cause is. This is common when a disease first begins: the very first migraine, the first case of gout, a mysterious pain anywhere in the body, throwing out the back.
Gathering information using the OPQRST approach is essential.
Providing information to explain the disease or injury either medically or energetically can be helpful.
Is it cancer? Is it deadly? Will I ever get better?
4. The client may feel shamed, weak, humiliated or a failure because of the disease or injury. There may be denial about the health issue. This person may not seek outside help until the disease has progressed and become more complicated.
This is common with health issues that are not obviously visual. The person may initially ‘look’ fine but feels torn apart inside.
PTSD, Panic Attacks, Depression, Cognitive Decline are examples.
5. The person may have stress about money.
Does the disease prevent the client from earning money?
Are the required healthcare costs affordable?
This is especially true in the US.
6. The health concern itself can be embarrassing to talk about and the person doesn’t share completely or waits a long time to seek help.
This is especially true with abuse of any kind and reproductive health issues such as PMS, Hot Flashes and Erectile Dysfunction.
7. Some acute diseases are noticeably helped by quality rest. Influenza and fevers especially comes to mind along with the common cold.
Use nervines to help an agitated person relax, sleep longer or go to bed earlier. This approach goes counter to the cultural message of being constantly on the go.
Being familiar with and having access to a wide range of Nervine herbs is helpful for these issues. It is always best to match a specific herb or formula to an individual.
Even if you as the herbalist are not able to resolve these issues completely, it is helpful for both parties to at least be aware of them.
Herbally, consider nerve or Shen tonics, adaptogens and flower essences.
General Ideas for Plant Therapy Support for the Nervous System
1. Nerve tonics for long term stress – Milky Oats, Withania, Skullcap, Tulsi
2. Uplifting herbs for low spirits – Lemon Balm, Hypericum, Tulsi, Rose, Albizia, Rosemary
3. Essential Oils that are light and uplifting to the spirit or nourish the nervous system – Attars, Mandarin, Bergamot, most flowers, conifers, citrus, or sacred scents which include Frankincense, Palo Santo and Sandalwood
4. Shen Tonics – Albizia, Rose, Tulsi, Schizandra, Attars