Pharmacognosy and Nerve Pain
Pharmocognosy is the study of the pharmacology of natural substances. Most synthetic prescription drugs are synthetic reformulations of natural occurring compounds. To understand how medications work and provide possible alternatives to them, we need a quick lesson of two chemicals within the nervous system that become abnormal when a nerve gets damaged or injured. To help you to understand this complex neurological concept, I want you to think of your car, specifically the gas pedal and the brake. When a nerve gets traumatized, a chemical called glutamate becomes elevated in the nervous system. This would be like stepping on the gas pedal in your car. Things go faster and the nerve becomes irritable. Another chemical called GABA is like the brake in your car. It slows down the nerves. So when you have nerve pain, Glutamate increases and GABA decreases, resulting in an excited painful nerve. Many medications given for nerve pain are designed to either decrease Glutamate and or increase GABA. The bright idea is to calm down irritable and painful nerves. Before I give you suggestions for natural alternatives, I need to warn you that even though natural substances often have fewer side effects, they can still cause problems so use this information only under the guidance of a health professional. Valerian root is an herb that recent research shows both decreases Glutamate and increases GABA. Passionflower increases GABA whereas Theanine and Magnolia decrease Glutamate. These herbs all work together to normalize the chemistries of painful irritated nerves.