As an Alabama girl, I love my local plants. Alabama has such amazing biodiversity from Florence to Mentone to Montgomery to Mobile, it would be nearly impossible to accurately represent the entire state.
There are so many things that thrive in our region here in the Birmingham area, but today I want to talk about five that I enjoy using regularly. These plants may not be native, but they flourish in our zone and have many ways to support our immune system and nervous system.
- Mimosa Blossoms (Albizia julibrissin)
Mimosa, also known as silk tree, is used for nervous system tonics. Both the bark and the blooms can be utilized. The bark has bitter compounds that have some analgesic properties as well. The flower has more of the sedative effect.
- Elderberry (Sambucus nigra)
Elder is an amazing plant for immunity. Both the berries and the flowers are useful, but elderberry is well known as an antiviral necessary for flu season protection. This past flu season, Elderberry syrup stayed sold out at our local health foods store, but you can easily make your own.
Please note, there are several varieties of elderberry that grow wild across the state. My great grandmother used to make jellies with an unidentified species of elderberry in Florence, AL. Be careful, as some of these may be poisonous if not properly identified. <3
- Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
Lemon balm glycerite is one of my favorite nervine formulas to use. We have a lemon balm bush that explodes every year. It is helpful not only for chronic feelings of anxiousness but can also help with sudden emotional shocks.
- Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)
Passionflower is native to the Americas and was originally cultivated by Native Americans because of its edible fruit. It is a well known nervine. It can help with nervousness and sleep issues. In Germany, it is used in combination with Lemon Balm and some other plants as a sedative.
- Kudzu (Pueraria montana)
Kudzu is known down here as an obnoxious, invasive plant. It is, but did you know that in Traditional Chinese Medicine the weed is seen as a healing herb to support the nervous system and relax tension? A decoction of the vine is indicated when one has a cold, fever, or chills with aches and pains.
Side note: there is also some evidence that kudzu can help reduce the cravings for alcohol. It’s a really cool plant, even if its invasive nature is annoying.
What are your favorite herbs for immunity and nervous system support?