What do the lymphatic, urinary and digestive systems all have in common? They depend on the nervous and endocrine systems to function, collectively referred to as the Neuroendocrine System. When compromised, the neuroendocrine system can suppress digestion and immune function and ramp up kidney filtration and heart rate, begging the question: how do we support the balance of these two command centers?
We’ll start unraveling these complex systems this month with the Nervous System.
Introduction to the Nervous System
God consciousness is the awareness of your stitch in the fabric of existence as it relates to every other fiber holding together the universe. Emotions, thoughts and actions ripple far beyond the physical body, feeding the energetic grid that connects us all. This outward energetic pulse that is YOU is a mirror of the pulsing energy matrix that courses through your body known as the nervous system.
The nervous system’s threadlike nerve fibers run through the brain and body connecting to every muscle, bone, organ, thought and action. It sends electrical and chemical messages that get us to do...everything! In a complex system consisting of trillions of cells, the nervous system is the puppeteer to our every movement, both conscious and unconscious. If it weren’t for the nervous system, we wouldn’t breathe, our heart wouldn’t beat, and we certainly wouldn’t be eliminating any waste.
Being integral to all systems and functions in the body, when the nervous system is taxed, other systems are compromised. For example, in moments of fight or flight, when cortisol is pumping through the blood, the immune and digestive systems are suppressed, the heart speeds up, and the bladder constricts. Now imagine what that looks like for someone who is constantly triggering their fight or flight response: Immune insufficiency, digestive distress and urinary imbalances could all be signs that point to nervous system overwhelm.
Of course, it can be challenging to keep your cool when facing the pressures of daily life. We’re just hoping that through a basic understanding of this complex system and with the help of some supportive herbs, you can navigate your way to a more blissful existence.
Nervous System Anatomy
The nervous system has two divisions: the Central Nervous System (CNS), which runs through the brain and spinal cord and the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS) which includes all the nerves branching from the brain and spinal cord out into the body, allowing the CNS to communicate with the rest of the body.
The Peripheral Nervous System is divided into the Somatic Nervous System and the Autonomic Nervous System:
Somatic Nervous System (voluntary) rules skeletal muscle movement. The somatic nervous system facilitates the bidirectional communication between the CNS and the muscles/sensory receptors. It conveys sensory information from the body to the brain for processing, and then transmits motor commands from the brain to the muscles, enabling voluntary movements and sensory perception.
Autonomic Nervous System (involuntary) controls the heartbeat, blood pressure, digestion, respiration and sexual arousal. It operates involuntarily, allowing our body to adapt and respond to changing internal conditions without conscious awareness. The autonomic nervous system is further divided into two branches:
The sympathetic division prepares the body for "fight or flight" responses in stressful situations.
The parasympathetic division promotes "rest and digest" activities during restful periods.
Nerves possess an awe-inspiring anatomical design, with intricate networks of fibers that enable the transmission of electrical and chemical impulses. Central and peripheral nerves all share the same structure:
Neuron: The basic building block of a nerve, responsible for transmitting signals. Neurons have a cell body, dendrites (receiving branches), and an axon (a long fiber transmitting the signal).
Axon: A long, slender extension of a neuron that carries electrical impulses away from the cell body. It is coated with a fatty substance called myelin, which helps speed up signal transmission.
Myelin Sheath: A protective covering made of lipids (fat) surrounding the axon, formed by specialized cells called Schwann cells in the peripheral nervous system. The myelin sheath acts as an insulator and facilitates the rapid conduction of nerve impulses.
Nodes of Ranvier: Gaps or spaces between adjacent segments of myelin along the axon. These nodes allow for saltatory conduction, where the electrical impulses jump from one node to another, increasing the speed of signal transmission.
Nerve Fibers: Bundles of axons bound together by connective tissue. Nerve fibers can be either sensory (carrying sensory information to the brain) or motor (carrying signals from the brain to muscles or glands).
Nerve Endings: Also known as nerve terminals or synapses, these are specialized structures located at the ends of nerve fibers. Nerve endings transmit signals to other neurons, muscles, or glands, allowing for communication and coordination within the body.
Nervous System Physiology
Nervous system physiology involves the transmission of electrical signals, known as nerve impulses or action potentials, along specialized cells called neurons, followed by the release of chemical messengers called neurotransmitters.
Nerve impulses are like messages that travel through the body using electricity and chemicals. Inside the nerve cells, there is a difference in electrical charge, which helps the messages move along. When something triggers a change in this charge, it creates an electrical signal called an action potential. This signal travels along the axon of the nerve cell, and the myelin sheath covering the axon acts like a protective layer, making the signal travel faster.
Electrical Signal (action potential): tiny bursts of electricity that move through the neuron cells. These signals happen because there are charged particles called ions that move across the cells' outer covering. When something stimulates the cell, it creates an electrical charge that travels along the neuron, like a spark, from one end to the other. This allows the signal to be sent to other cells in the body, helping them communicate with each other.
Neurotransmitters: these are the chemical messengers in the nervous system. Neurotransmitters are specialized molecules that help transmit signals between neurons. When an electrical signal, or action potential, reaches the end of a neuron, neurotransmitters are released into the small gap, called the synapse, between that neuron and the next one. The neurotransmitters then bind to specific receptors on the receiving neuron, transmitting the signal and allowing the message to continue along the pathway. GABA, Histamine, Serotonin, Dopamine and Norepinephrine are a few types of neurotransmitters.
The Nervous System’s Role in Detoxification
The nervous system is the master regulator of all pathways of elimination in the body. Starting with the lymphatic system, the nervous system helps regulate lymph flow, which carries waste materials and toxins away from cells and tissues. Nerve impulses stimulate the contraction of lymphatic vessels, aiding in the movement of lymph fluid and facilitating the removal of toxins.
In the urinary system, the nervous system controls the contraction and relaxation of smooth muscles in the bladder, allowing for the elimination of waste products and toxins through urine. It also regulates the production of antidiuretic hormone (ADH), which affects the reabsorption of water and concentration of urine.
The respiratory system, closely linked to the nervous system, facilitates the elimination of gaseous toxins, such as carbon dioxide, through the process of respiration. Nerve signals regulate the expansion and contraction of the diaphragm and other respiratory muscles, enabling the exchange of gases in the lungs and the removal of waste gases.
In the digestive system, the nervous system controls the peristaltic movements of the gastrointestinal tract, promoting the smooth passage of food and waste materials. It also regulates secretions of digestive enzymes and hormones that aid in the breakdown and elimination of toxins.
The Neuroendocrine System
The neuroendocrine system represents the intricate connection between the nervous and endocrine systems, working together to regulate and coordinate various physiological processes in the body. The neuroendocrine system involves the interactions between specialized nerve cells and endocrine glands.
The hypothalamus is the highest regulatory center for the autonomic (involuntary) nervous system and endocrine system and acts as the main link between the two systems. It receives and processes information from both the nervous system, in the form of electrical and chemical impulses from neurons, and the endocrine system, in the form of hormones in the blood.
The neuroendocrine system is made up of neuroendocrine cells that are spread throughout the body. These cells are structured much like neurons but contain hormones. They receive messages from the nervous system and respond by making and releasing hormones. “For example, the neuroendocrine cells in your gut make hormones that drive production of digestive juices and coordinate the muscles that move food through your bowels (Clevland Clinic).”
Overall, the neuroendocrine system allows for the rapid transmission of signals and coordination of physiological processes. The nervous system provides immediate, short-term responses through electrical impulses, while the endocrine system provides slower, long-term regulation through the secretion of hormones. Together, they form a sophisticated communication network that ensures the proper functioning and balance of the body's systems.
This connection between nervous and endocrine systems is why Dr Mores always supports both with his nervous system protocols; for example, Brain and Nervous Systems can be paired with Adrenal Support. Register for our free webinar Dr Morse’s Protocols & Pairings for Neurological Support for an in-depth review of product protocols for nervous system health.
Dr Morse Formulas for Nervous System Health
We will be reviewing herbs that support the nervous system in the Herbal Neurological Therapeutics section below. These herbs are included in the following Dr Morse formulas:
- Brain & Nervous Systems
- Blood circulation
- Spasm calm
- Happy Caps
- Endocrine support
- Pituitary Support
- Adrenal support
- Ultimate Immune
- Hops; read benefits & use blog
- Ashwagandha; read benefits & use blog
To learn more about how to combine these formulas to support specific “needs states” (states of being that need support), join us for our free 30-minute webinar entitled Dr Morse's Protocols & Pairings for Neurological Health taking place on Wednesday, July 26th at 1 pm pacific time.
Herbal Neurological Therapeutics
These herbs support brain function, mental performance & cognitive enhancement
Schisandra berry’s complex flavor profile encompasses all 5 flavors, giving it the common name in China of wu wei zi or 5 flavor herb. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, this complex flavor indicates a completely balanced herb. “The skin and pulp are both sweet and sour; the seed is pungent and bitter; and the fruit overall is salty (HerbalGram Issue 106).” Hundreds of studies have confirmed its use as an adaptogen, central nervous system stimulant, and hepatoprotective herb. Schisandra supports healthy digestion, respiration and urination, promotes healthy sleep patterns, and is a nervous system tonic. Find schisandra berry in Brain & Nervous Systems, Endocrine Glands, Happy Caps, Pituitary Support and Ultimate Immune formulas.*
Gingko is one of the oldest living tree species on the planet. According to a research paper published in the Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry (2017), ginkgo supports improved blood circulation to the brain, improved functioning of the brain, eyes, ears, and legs, reduction of occasional stress, improved memory, attention and speed of thinking in healthy adults and improved cognition especially in age related cognitive decline. Ginkgo is also a well-known backpacker's companion for gaining altitude. Ginkgo is formulated into Brain & Nervous Systems, Blood Circulation, Happy Caps and Pituitary Support.*
Rosemary is for remembrance. This age-old herb for memory has the pungency attributed to so many circulatory stimulants while also containing rosmarinic acid and 24 different flavonoids, supporting a heathy inflammatory response and reduced oxidative stress in the brain and nervous system. The compound 1,8-cineole in rosemary supports healthy levels of acetylcholine in the brain, a neurotransmitter responsible for encoding new memories, reasoning, concentration, cognition, and the growth of new synapses (neuroplasticity). Rosemary is included in Blood Circulation and Happy Caps.*
Ashwagandha is one of the most sought-after herbal supplements today. It is best known as a calming adaptogen but studies and tradition both show that this root also has both nootropic and trophorestorative benefits. As a nootropic, ashwagandha supports healthy levels of GABA and serotonin in the brain. As a trophorestorative ashwagandha supports the repair of damage caused by cognitive decline due to aging. According to Ayurveda, ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb that helps the body manage stress while strengthening physical and mental performance and enhancing overall well-being. Dr Morse’s offers pure Ashwagandha Tincture for neurological support.*
These herbs support the growth, development, and repair of neurons in the brain, promoting overall brain health and functioning
Gotu kola, not to be confused with kola nut, is well known as a connective tissue tonic and is used both internally and externally to support the healing of wounds as it promotes collagen synthesis and modulates scar tissue. Sri Lankans, noting that elephants, renowned for their longevity, eat the plant, began eating a few leaves a day in hopes of increasing their lifespan. A TCM “miracle elixir of life." In Ayurvedic medicine, gotu kola is best known as a mental rejuvenator or tonic used to reduce mental fatigue and improve mental clarity. Gotu kola is formulated into Brain & Nervous Systems, Happy Caps and Ultimate Immune.*
Oat straw and tops is a lovely daily herbal supplement for nourishing a frayed nervous system. The starch and protein content supports the strength, fortitude and restoration of tissues and neurons specifically in the bones, muscles, tendons & nerves. Oat has a sweet, grounding flavor that makes it enjoyable to take as a tea or tincture. This herb combines well with most other nervines, both relaxing and stimulating, for a harmonic flavor and feeling. Oat straw is rich in silica, meaning this herb supports tissue health both internally and externally. Oat straw can be found in Happy Caps.
Skullcap is in the mint family (lamiaceae, which you can identify from its square stem) and like many mint family members is wonderful for supporting the nervous system. Skullcap acquired the name mad-dog weed in the 1700s, when it was falsely administered as a cure for rabies due to its calming, antispasmodic action. Regardless, skullcap is wonderful as a nervous system tonic that gently assists in the relaxation of smooth muscle throughout the body. This less sedating alternative to hops and valerian can support the down regulation of the nervous system without brain fog. Skullcap is in Spasm Calm and Brain and Nervous Systems.*
St John’s wort contains an amazing bright red molecule called hypericin that contributes to both the therapeutic qualities of this herb as well as its ability to cause phototoxicity. Although not recommended to be taken with serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) St John’s wort is a happy herb that seems to support the brain in a similar way to these prescription medications. St John’s wort’s ability to attract and hold sunlight has led to the traditional belief that it brings light to the dark places within us. It is also indicated for neurological discomforts. St John’s wort is in our Spasm Calm formula.*
These herbs support a calm and relaxed state and promote a healthy nervous system
Passionflower leaves and flowers contain a wide range of polyphenols and other constituents thought collectively to have general sedating and relaxing properties, helping to support a good night’s sleep. Larger doses can have the opposite effect is some individuals. Great alone or in combination with skullcap for supporting smooth muscle relaxation. Passionflower has an affinity for the heart as well and is useful for those who “need to have their hearts calmed and grounded so that they can be connected to others (Althea Northage Orr, 2012).” Passionflower is included in Spasm Calm.*
Valerian is popular enough that you have probably tried it searching for a supplement to support sleep. To many the intense odor and flavor of valerian is of off-smelling perfume, but with great odor comes great purpose. Valerian is a sedative that is specifically seen to promote the REM phase of sleep, the phase in which the mind is said to reset itself. It is especially good for “worriers, particularly when they are plagued by a busy mind, linear thoughts or circles of thoughts and emotions playing over throughout the night (herbrally).” Valerian is available as a single herb Tincture and is also featured in Spasm Calm.*
*FDA warning: This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.