BLUE VERVAIN

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Herbal Monograph

Herb: BLUE VERVAIN (Verbena sp.; Verbena hastata; Verbenaceae)

Other Names: American vervain, false vervain, Indian hyssop, purvain, Simpler’s joy, traveler’s joy, vervain, wild hyssop   (13)   

Character/Energetics:   bitter, cold   (6);  pungent, bitter, cool   (15)

Meridians/Organs/Body Parts affected:   liver, spleen, lungs, circulation, intestines (6) (14) (50)   

Parts used: leaves and tops  (6);   rootstock and herb   (13);   tops   (14);   aerial parts  (15)    

Identification & Harvesting: Enter description Source #13.

Blue vervain is a bristly perennial native to the northern U.S. and Canada and also to be found in England.  (13)    Gather while flowering in summer.  (15)

Active constituents:  two glycosides (verbenaline and verbenine), essential oil, tannin, mucilage         and a bitter principle (6)

        volatile oil (inc. citral), bitter glycosides (inc. iridoids), tannins   (15) 

Actions: alterative, antiperiodic, diuretic, diaphoretic, emetic, expectorant, galactogogue, emmenagogue, bitter tonic (6); vermifuge, vulnerary, tranquilizer (13);  antipyretic, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, astringent (14); relaxant tonic, promotes milk flow, promotes sweating, nervine, sedative, liver restorative, laxative, uterine stimulant, bile stimulant  (15)    sudorofic, tonic  (50)

Conditions and Uses: (Blue Vervain) treats fevers, colds, flu, hysteria, throat and lung congestion, liver disorders, intestinal worms, irregular menses and cramps. This herb is more detoxifying and exerts its action both on the surface and internally as an alterative (6)             

Blue vervain has been called a natural tranquilizer and is used as an antiperiodic for nervous problems. The warm tea, taken often,  is recommended for fevers and colds, especially for getting rid of congestion in throat and chest. It can also be used for insomnia and other nervous conditions and is often effective for eliminating intestinal worms. Taken cold, the infusion acts as a tonic. Externally, blue vervain tea heals sores and wounds.  (13)

Vervain is one of the palliatives for the onset of colds, flu, coughs and upper respiratory inflammations. It will promote sweating to allay fevers. Combine with boneset for fevers and take 1/2 to 1 hot cup every hour. The tea will settle a nervous stomach and is good for insomnia. It is good for pneumonia, asthma and all other congestive chest diseases. The tea can also be applied to sores to increase healing. Drink the warm tea for pain or cramps in the stomach and bowels. 

Large amounts of  vervain will act as an emetic. It is bitter and can be made more palatable if combined with lemon grass or peppermint and honey. Start with one teaspoonful when treating children and increase if needed; one tablespoon to 1 cup with adults.

Internal– Colds: Infusion;  Convulsions: Tincture, fluid Extract, Infusion;  Coughs: Infusion;

Fevers: Infusion;  Headaches:  Infusion, Tincture, Fluid Extract;  Measles: Infusion*;

Nerve Weakness:  Tincture, Fluid Extract, Infusion;  Pain in the bowels: Infusion; 

Pleurisy: Infusion

External–  Rheumatism, neuralgia, sciatica: Make a poultice out of flax seed meal and use a strong infusion of vervain instead of water to moisten it;  Swelling of the spleen:  Poultice (mix with wheat flour or bran). 

* Usually used  in combination with other herbs when treating the indicated problem. (14)

Aerial parts– (Vervain is) an effective nerve tonic, liver stimulant, urinary cleanser and fever remedy, the aerial parts also encourage milk flow and can be taken during labor to stimulate contractions. They have a number of topical uses for sores, wounds, and gum disorders. In China, the plant is known as ma bian cao, and the aerial parts are used mainly as a fever remedy for malaria and influenza.

Vervain is one of Dr. Bach’s original 12 flower remedies, used for mental stress and overexertion, with related insomnia and inability to relax.  

For neuralgia: Sedative; antispasmodic; restorative for the nervous system/Soak a pad in a decoction and use as a compress; use ointment; take the infusion or 5 ml tincture/Add lavender or St. John’s Wort to tincture or infusion, or up to 20 drops Jamaican dogwood tincture.

For anxiety & tension: Relaxing nervine with a tonic effect on the liver/Take an infusion or tincture/Use as a simple or combine with wood betony, linden, chamomile, or gotu kola to enhance sedating effects.

For vaginal itching: Gentle nervine, stimulating for liver and uterus; anti-depressant and energizing/Take an infusion or up to 5 ml tincture 3x daily/Combine with lavender, oats, or lady’s mantle; useful for itching of nervous origin.  (15)

        BLUE VERVAIN (Verbena sp.; Verbena hastata; Verbenaceae)

Conditions and Uses (cont.):

Vervain is much used for its quieting and easing effect; a valuable remedy for all disorders of the spleen and liver. The warm infusion is remarkable in intermittent fevers, colds, la grippe, etc., also valuable for female complaints, obstructed menses, gravel, worms and scrofula, weak circulation, shortness of breath, etc. It is prized by some herbalists as a remedy for epilepsy and fits. Externally it is healing to sores.  (50)

Combinations: Combine with boneset for fevers and take 1/2 to 1 hot cup every hour. It is bitter and can be made more palatable if combined with lemon grass or peppermint and honey. (14)

For nervous exhaustion and depression, combines well with oats; for neuralgia,

add lavender or St. John’s Wort to tincture or infusion, or up to 20 drops Jamaican dogwood tincture; for anxiety & tension, use as a simple or combine with wood betony, linden, chamomile, or gotu kola to enhance sedating effects; for vaginal itching, Combine with lavender, oats, or lady’s mantle. (15)

Tincturing Process:  40-50% alcohol  (10)         1 oz herb: 5 oz solvent; 60% alcohol (11)

                      Vita Mix: 6.8 gr herb: 1 oz alcohol (good ratio)–Fill herb to top of blades w/nipple barely visible. 90 seconds forward; 45 seconds reverse.  (1)                        

         

Dosage & Applications: standard infusion or 3 to 9 grams; tincture, 10 to 30 drops (6)     

Infusion: Use 2 tsp. rootstock or herb with 1 pint boiling water. For a tonic, take 2 to 3 tsp. six times daily, cold.

Tincture:  Take 10 to 20 drops at a time.

The warm tea, taken often,  is recommended for fevers and colds, especially for getting rid of congestion in throat and chest. It can also be used for insomnia and other nervous conditions and is often effective for eliminating intestinal worms. Taken cold, the infusion acts as a tonic. Externally, blue vervain tea heals sores and wounds.  (13)

Infusion:  steep 5 to 15 minutes. 3 oz. frequently

Tincture:  10 to 20 drops frequently

Fluid Extract:  1/2  to 1 tsp. frequently

Powder:  3 #0 capsules (15 grains) frequently   (14)

Infusion: Take for insomnia and nervous tension or to encourage sweating and stimulate the immune system in feverish conditions. Can also be used as a liver stimulant to improve poor appetite and digestive function. Sip during labor to encourage contractions and during lactation to stimulate milk flow.

Tincture:  Take for nervous exhaustion and depression (combines well with oats); as a liver stimulant for sluggish digestion, toxic conditions of jaundice; and with other urinary herbs for stones and conditions related to excess uric acid, such as gout. 

Poultice: Apply to insect bites, sprains, and bruises.

Ointment: Use on eczema, wounds, and weeping sores. Also for painful neuralgia.

Mouthwash: Use the infusion for mouth ulcers and soft, spongy gums.  (15)

Precautions:   Avoid in pregnancy, as it is a uterine stimulant; may be taken during labor.

          If taking the tincture for liver disorders, use the hot water method (see p. 125)

          to reduce the alcohol.  (15)  

Divination:  r  u  d  (48)

General Notes:   One of the Druids’ most sacred herbs, vervain was called hiera botane  (sacred plant) by the Romans, who used it to purify homes and temples. Its association with magic and ritual was still popular in the 17th century, and Gerard warns against using it for “witchcraft and sorceries.” he herb was traditionally used for dropsy; cardioactive glycosides have been identified in the plant to support this use.

      “…the Magi make the maddest statements about the plant: that people who have been rubbed with it will obtain their wishes, banish fever…and cure all diseases…” Pliny, A.D. 77.  (15)

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References:

(1) Joniris Herbals Research Data, “Blue Vervain tincture” file

(6) Planetary Herbology by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., pgs. 160-161

(10) Herbal Preparations and Natural Therapies by Debra Nuzzi St. Claire, M.H., pg. 127

(11) Herbal Materia Medica (5th edition) by Michael Moore, pg. 29

(13) The Herb Book by John Lust, pgs 130-131 

(14) Natural Healing With Herbs by Humbart Santillo BS, MH, pgs. 187-188

(15) The Complete Medicinal Herbal by Penelope Ody, pgs. 112, 132-33, 162-63, 168-69

(48) The Rulership Book by Rex E. Bills, pg. 153

(50) The Practical Herbalist and Astrologer by Ira N. Shaw,  pg. 30