What Are Nervine Herbs?

by Melissa Chichester

With so many different types of vitamins, minerals, and herbs out there it seems like there’s always a new one popping up.

One type of herb you might’ve heard about before is a “nervine herb.” So what does this actually mean? 

You’ve probably heard of nervine herbs before. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Whole Health Library describes nervine herbs as the term used to describe “herbs that are believed to act on the nervous system.” This means they have some kind of broad influence on the nervous system, whether soothing or stimulating. 

A good example of a nervine herb might surprise you – and that’s coffee. Coffee beans come from the Coffea Arabica plant and contain the stimulant caffeine. 

Here are other plants that are considered nervine herbs. 

>>What Are Botanical Supplements?


Chamomile flowers are best known for being prepared as tea. Chamomile essential oil can be diffused to help promote a soothing environment.

Valerian root 

Valerian root is a flowering perennial native to Europe and Asia and has a pungent and earthy aroma. It has been used for its benefits since ancient Greek and Roman times. Valerian root is traditionally used to support and promote relaxation.*^ 

Sometimes valerian root is combined with other traditional herbs to support rest and better sleep, such as Puritan’s Pride Botanical Sleep.

This supplement is made with three plants to help promote sound sleep: valerian, passionflower, and hops.* Passionflower is a creeping vine, native to tropical and semi-tropical regions that has been traditionally used for centuries. And hops are flowers that have a long history of use throughout Europe. This botanical supplement helps promote sound sleep and is useful for occasional sleeplessness – however, it does not contain melatonin.* 

^Traditional use claims are based on historical or traditional practices. Valerian has a long history of use for relaxation and occasional sleeplessness dating back to traditional Greek Medicine.

St. John’s Wort

St. John’s Wort is an easily recognizable plant with yellow flowers that helps promote a positive mood.* In addition, it helps promote a healthy emotional outlook and supports a relaxed mental state.* 

Green tea 

L-theanine is a substance that can be found in Japanese green tea. It supports mood centers in the brain and supports a calm and relaxed mood.*  L-theanine also interacts with the neurotransmitter GABA, which is known for its importance in nervous system functioning.* L-theanine can also help with occasional stress.*

A final note

Herbs can be a useful part of your wellness routine. “Nervine” is another way to describe what certain herbs may do in the human body. Before adding any herbs to your routine, it is important to discuss it with your personal healthcare practitioner who knows your health history and has knowledge of the medications you are taking.