In This Section
The nervous system responds rapidly to variation in your external and internal environment. It works with the endocrine system and together they control major homeostatic functions (maintenance of a stable internal environment in the body). There are three basic functions of the nervous system:
- It receives stimuli from the external and internal environments.
- It will analyse and interpret information.
- It initiates an appropriate and co-ordinated response.
There are two principal parts
1. The central nervous system (CNS) is the brain and spinal cord. Incoming sensory information reaches the brain via spinal and cranial nerves. The brain then sorts it all out and stores memories and issues instructions. Thoughts and emotional responses originate in the CNS, but recent research suggests that hormonal responses are more significant in emotional development and experience. The CNS controls most muscle contraction and glandular secretions.
2. The peripheral nervous system (PNS) receives information from the periphery of the body, such as the skin, as well as deeper organs and tissues and the special senses such as sight and hearing. There are input and output routes. Parts of the nervous system are under voluntary control, but most nerve responses are involuntary.
The role of potassium
Most of the potassium in the body is found in the cells and bone tissue. Maintaining the relative proportions of potassium within and around the cell is critical to the function of nerve impulses and the function of muscle tissue. Loss of potassium is, therefore, critical in illnesses and where there is diarrhoea and vomiting. Careful attention also needs to be paid to maintaining potassium levels when doing cleanses. As natural healers we place great emphasis on ensuring detoxification is safe and this is why potassium broth is a standard feature of any of our cleansing and detoxification programmes.
The nervous system affects both our emotional and physical well-being. Contemporary life places unique stress upon our nervous system. Without nurturing and sustaining it with a positive lifestyle and nutritious foods, we can more feel stressed and emotionally unstable. This can contribute to a range of ill-health patterns, from hypertension to insomnia, and from depression to irritable bowel syndrome.
Our nervous system is similar to the electricity network of our homes, our nerve fluid acting like the electric current. Neurotransmitters are the chemical link between nerve cells that allow nervous impulses to move and communicate and they need to be constantly produced and renewed. Burnout is not just an emotional state but a physical condition as well.
- "Nerve foods" that can actually help to repair and feed the nervous system include non-active yeast flakes, spirulina, essential fatty acids and whole grains, particularly organic oats and wheat germ, which are very rich in B vitamins.
- Spirulina and non-active yeast flakes enter the bloodstream very quickly and need little or no digestion. They are found in Superfood Plus. This highly nutritious food is rich in B vitamins and many other nutrients including magnesium, another vital nervous system nutrient that we need to take in on a daily basis to keep levels up.
- B vitamins are vital for the production of neurotransmitters as well as nerve health.
- Celery, courgettes, avocados, lettuce, carrots, and pumpkin are supreme nerve foods and can be juiced, steamed or used raw in salads.
- Almonds and sesame seeds are rich in calcium and will feed the nervous system. Pumpkin seeds and hemp seeds are particularly rich in magnesium.
- Daily nerve food suggestions would include: 1½ litres of carrot juice, avocado, cos lettuce soup, 2 cups of soaked oats with 12 almonds, 1 tbsp sesame seeds and ½ tbsp wheat germ with added cinnamon powder, honey, pollen grains and lemon juice to flavour.
- Foods rich in phosphorus are vital partners for calcium. Calcium is an important nerve conductor as well as a builder of healthy bones and teeth, and the phosphorus partnership is encouraged with green vegetables such as cabbage plus bilberries and pumpkin seeds.
- Stimulants give an artificial push to the nervous system and adrenal glands. It is best to avoid tea and alcohol as they can reduce assimilation of vitamin B1 (thiamine) and minerals that are vital for the nervous system. Herbal teas are a good alternative – try “Evening Peace Herbal Tea” to calm the system.
- Alcohol is also a nervous system depressant and is very depleting, as is sugar.
- Drink plenty of water as it helps the body in many ways, not least the correct functioning of the entire nervous system. It greatly helps elimination on all levels.
- Oats are a prime nerve food; porridge and oatcakes are really helpful. They can also help to increase good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol.
- A freely functioning body is one that is not congested, overheated or inoperative. Rest is vitally important for the nervous system and this comes best of all in the form of sleep. Going to bed early enough improves the quality of sleep; indeed sleep taken between the hours of 10pm and 2am actually doubles its value in terms of quality, relative to that taken after 2am.
- Excessive electrical charge can build up in the body during the course of each day if we live predominantly on concrete and are constantly exposed to synthetic materials such as nylon carpets, man-made shoes, and so on. The cure for this is to ground and earth ourselves, just as all electrical systems need to be earthed. The famous remedy of walking barefoot when feeling hyper-nervy, unable to sleep or "nerved-out" really does work and many a patient has found relief and benefit with a bare-footed night foray in the garden! If you have difficulty sleeping, try barefoot walking.
- Research is overwhelming for the benefits of meditation. This activity will repair the nerves and bring calm and peace to the day, so give this simple practice daily time if you can.
- Just sitting and becoming aware of your breathing for 10 minutes has a tremendous impact. Try belly breathing and discover the quiet calm that develops.
- Those who generally lead a high-intensity life need to guard their resources and prevent burning the candle at both ends; catnapping can help to achieve this.
- For those with insomnia, you may find benefit from using hydrotherapy techniques such as hot and cold showers that can be deeply grounding and relaxing. This is especially wise if you rely on sleeping tablets and could well help you to finally do without them.
- Plant chemistry is very capable of engaging with cell receptors in the body. By altering, opening or blocking as needed, plant chemicals can help sedate, reduce inflammation, reduce pain, relax, rebuild, restore and energise as needed. The uses of herbal nerve tonics are infinite and many of our products have actions at this level.
- Skin brushing will stimulate the nerve endings and is a great rejuvenator, especially for those who are low, depressed and sluggish.
- Creative pursuits such as dancing, painting, singing or writing are all important expressions of our emotions. The nervous system will thrive when pursuing them with pleasure and in a relaxed manner.
- Massage is quite wonderful for de-stressing; start with a massage oil blend such as Earth Song Massage Oil that is grounding and earthy.
- Try using nerve-sedative and nerve-stimulant essential oils as appropriate. Add a few drops of chamomile, frankincense or geranium essential oil to your bath – or a couple of chamomile tea bags. A very good sedative is hop essential oil. This is useful for insomniacs and it is well worth the high price you'll need to pay for this essential oil. Lavender is another (and much cheaper!) soothing essential oil, and is suitable for children and for most skin types.
Our herbal formulae are strong flavoured and effective. Our herbs enjoy a long history of use. A large proportion of them are grown in English soils, harvested using bio-chemistry analysis and many of them are processed fresh, which heightens their remedial properties. The majority are grown organically and are sustainable and wild-crafted. All manufacturing is carried out using licensed good manufacturing practice.