Vervain has a vast and fascinating medicinal and supernatural history. It was even used as food by some Native American cultures. Vervain leaves and roots are still being used today, by herbalists and other alternative medicine practitioners, to treat a number of health problems. Following, are some of the most common ailments treated with this amazing herb.
Medicinal Uses for Vervain
- Intermittent fevers
- Pleurisy – an inflammation of the pleura, which is the moist, double-layered membrane that surrounds the lungs and lines the rib cage.
- Kidney stones
- Scrofula – a form of Tuberculosis (TB)
- Expelling worms
- Muscle spasms
- Easing pain in the bowels
- Menstrual problems
- Increasing breast milk
- As a medicinal poultice it is credited with treating headaches, hemorrhoids/piles and rheumatism
Vervain helps relieve and prevent diarrhea, in part, because of its diuretic effect. It stimulates the release of urine, excess water, salts and fat, from the body. This also helps to breakdown and eliminate kidney stones. The other part is vervain’s anti-parasitic activity. Vervain kills, expels, and prevents the growth of intestinal worms and other intestinal parasites.
Vervain is an excellent remedy for those who regularly suffer from chest congestion, colds, chronic bronchitis, sore throats and respiratory inflammation disorders, such as pleurisy. Vervain is an expectorant, it helps to expel mucus and phlegm that can accumulate in the respiratory tracts.
Vervain also alleviates pain. It is considered a powerful analgesic, that is particularly effective for kidney stone pain and some forms of arthritis. It’s believed that vervain contains compounds that can numb certain areas and stop pain from registering in those nerves. Vervain’s anti-inflammatory properties complement its analgesic effect and reduce swelling and inflammation.
Vervain’s high tannin content is why it’s such an effective inflammation fighter. Tannins function as antioxidants, promote healing and help prevent further tissue damage. This is why vervain has been used to treat mouth ulcers and protect dental health. In some cultures, the roots were chewed for this purpose.
Speaking of oral health, vervain infusion makes a great mouthwash for those suffering from bleeding gums, halitosis, tonsillitis, as well as the aforementioned mouth ulcers.
Vervain is also known as a “female tonic”, because it reduces menstrual cramps and other muscle spasms, as well as bloating. It is also believed to be effective for balancing hormones, which can help prevent mood swings and depression brought on by PMS (premenstrual syndrome).
“This relaxing and uplifting herb can promote positive thinking, stimulate the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, and generally improve your mood by clearing your mind of worry.”2
Although vervain should not be used during pregnancy (more on that in the ‘warnings and side-effects’ section), it has long been used by midwives to speed childbirth, by strengthening contractions and shortening the duration of labor. The herb also increases breast milk production, in lactating women who are having difficulty producing sufficient quantities.
Vervain Treatment for Kidneys and Bladder
The following infusion is used to help pass kidney stones and for infections of the bladder.
1 TB Vervain (dry herb)
1 pint boiling water
Note: TB means measuring tablespoon.
Steep for at least 10 minutes.
Take 1 tablespoon of the infusion up to six times a day, and 2oz. (or ½ teacup) before bed.
The History of Vervain
Vervain has been called many different names around the world, including blue vervain, simpler’s joy, swamp verbena, wild hyssop, enchanter’s plant, Holy herb, ma bian cao, pigeon’s grass, pigeon weed, etcetera. Each of these names comes with its own fascinating history.
The ancients claimed that Vervain possessed aphrodisiac qualities, and gave it the name herba veneris. Priests used herba sacra in sacrifices; the name Verbena was the classical Roman name for “altar-plants” in general. It was used in various rites and incantations by old-world magicians and sorcerers, and by ambassadors making leagues. The druids included it in their lustral water. In the new world, the Iroquois believed that a cold infusion of smashed leaves could be used to make an obnoxious person leave.
Bruised, the herb was worn around the neck as a charm against headaches, venomous bites, as well as for general good luck. Many of the supernatural beliefs surrounding Vervain may be due to the legend of its discovery on the Mount of Calvary, where it was said to staunch the wounds of the crucified Savior. Thereafter, it was crossed and blessed with a commemorative verse when it was gathered. (Vervain must be picked before flowering and dried promptly.)
Perhaps this historic belief in Vervain’s supernatural powers is why the author of the Vampire Diaries chose Vervain as the plant that protects Human minds from vampire control. In reality, Vervain’s abilities are a little more mundane.
Vervain Warnings and Side-effects
Vervain has no documented side-effects, however, an upset stomach does occasionally occur among blue vervain/verbena supplement users. Used in excess, vervain has purgative effects – laxative and vomiting.
There are no known drug interactions, but you may still wish to consult an herbalist or naturopathic practitioner regarding the use of vervain with any prescription medications you are taking.
“It should not be used while pregnant as it may stimulate contractions.
“The safety of this medicinal herb for children or for people with severe liver or kidney disease remains unknown.”1
Speaking of children, there was a study published in Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism, that found vervain and tea infusions could inhibit iron availability. It’s one more reason to avoid both during pregnancy.
But there’s good news for women using the herb to increase breast milk production! The researchers also discovered that vitamin C could counteract the iron inhibiting properties of vervain and tea. The study’s authors recommend drinking vitamin C-rich fruit juice when consuming vervain. This is also a good idea for those who are not breastfeeding.
If you have any questions about vervain or this article, comment below.
1 Thordur Sturlson. “Vervain Herb Uses, Side Effects and Health Benefits”. The Herbal Resource, n.d. Web. August 2016
2 “Health Benefits of Blue Vervain”. Organic Facts, n.d. Web. August 2016
Zaida F, Bureau F, Guyot S, et al. “Iron Available and Consumption of Tea, Vervain and Mint During Weaning in Morocco”. Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism, May 2006. Web. August 2016
“Health Benefits of Blue Vervain”. Organic Facts, n.d. Web. August 2016
“Blue Vervain Benefits”. Annie’s Remedy, n.d. Web. August 2016
“Vervain”. A Modern Herbal, n.d. Web. August 2016
Mary Elizabeth Fissell. “Vernacular Bodies: The Politics of Reproduction in Early Modern England”. Oxford University Press, 2004. Print