Vervain is considered an overlooked herbal remedy, but the benefits of this plant should not be underestimated any longer. Vervain has a long list of health benefits in herbal medicine including the ability to treat headaches, insomnia, jaundice, depression, gout, kidney stones, anxiety, depression and more.
Old folklore states that this herb possesses magical powers. It was also referenced as the “herb of the cross” in the bible because it was used on Jesus’ wounds after he was removed from the cross. Even if this herb doesn’t possess magic powers, considering everything it can do for your body seems magical enough.
Botanical Name and Family of Vervain
The botanical name of vervain is Verbena officinalis. It belongs to the Verbenaceae or Verbena family and is referred to as Verbena, Blue Vervain and Herb of Grace.
What Is Vervain?
Several species of vervain are grown widely in Europe and the Americas. Verbena officinalis is native to Europe and is associated with supernatural and divine powers. It is also one of the components used to prepare Bach flower remedies, which promote a calm and peace in the body.
The flowers of vervain are used to lend flavor to alcoholic beverages. The essential oil obtained from this herb is sold as Spanish verbena oil.
The medicinal uses of this plant were used thousands of years ago by many different cultures and peoples including the Druids, Persians, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and worshippers of Thor in Scandinavia.
In ancient Egyptian, vervain became known as a divine herb that was believed to come from the tears of the goddess Isis when she wept over the death of the god Osiris. The Romans and Greeks also used vervain branches to purify their temple altars because they believed that it was a highly sacred and holy plant.
Active Ingredients Found in Vervain
Vervain contains ursolic acid, 3-epiursolic acid, oleanolic acid, 3-epioleanolic acid, iridoid glycosides called hastatoside and verbenalin, and a monoterpene alcohol called verbenol.
Research also suggests that this herb acts as a diuretic and astringent. It also has analgesic, anti-spasmodic, anti-parasitic and anti-inflammatory capabilities.
Health Benefits of Vervain
Traditionally, vervain has been used to deal with problems of the respiratory tract such as whooping cough, asthma and sore throat. It was also used in edema associated with heart failure and angina attacks.
Some people used it for hysteria, depression, fever, pain of the gallbladder, gout and arthritis. It was used to treat irregular menstruation and menopause symptoms and also to increase the flow of milk in breastfeeding mothers.
Vervain was also used to help address the following ailments:
- Chest congestion
- Nervous tension
Some people believed that chewing the plant’s roots helped strengthen teeth and gums. It also has known aphrodisiac properties to help stimulate sexual arousal.
How to Use Vervain
Fluid extracts of vervain are commercially available. This herb is often part of an herbal combination with gentian root, primrose, elderberry and common sorrel.
There is no clinical evidence to support specific dose recommendations for vervain, but the traditional use for its astringent properties required 2-4 grams daily in an infusion of either a tea or tincture.
Side Effects of Vervain
The combination product can lead to a skin rash or upset of the digestive system. Vervain must not be administered to pregnant women because it can cause miscarriage. If you are considering to use vervain, make sure you speak to your doctor or herbal practitioner first to ensure that using this herb will benefit you as opposed to exposing you to the previously mentioned side effects.
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Kou WZ, Yang J, Yang QH, Wang Y, Wang ZF, Xu SL, Liu J. Study on in-vivo anti-tumor activity of Verbena officinalis extract. Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2013 Apr 12;10(3):512-7. eCollection 2013. PubMed PMID: 24146482; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3777594.