Vervain (Verbena officinalis) is a flowering plant in the Verbena (Verbenacea) family of plants. It also has some other names such as:
- common verbena,
- wild verbena,
- simpler’s joy,
- holy herb,
- enchanter’s plant,
- mosquito plant,
- wild hyssop,
- Indian hyssop,
- blue vervain,
- pigeon’s grass,
- pigeon weed, and
- herb of the cross.
This herb is often confused with lemon verbena. Lemon verbena is actually an entirely different plant. Both vervain and lemon verbena are in the same plant family, but there are many plants in the Verbena family.
Not all are used medicinally in the same ways as vervain. Other medicinal varieties of this plant include blue vervain (Verbena
The Vervain Flower
The Herb of Love: The Lore and T
radition of Vervain
The use of common verbena for medicinal, ceremonial, and superstitious purposes goes back thousands of years. Ancient cultures throughout Europe have held this plant in high esteem. The significance of the herb as a cultural symbol and healing plant is partly how it acquired its many names. Even its nicknames convey adoration, as
Vervain was a sacred plant to several ancient civilizations, including ancient Egypt. Egyptians believed this plant first sprung from the tears of the goddess Isis as she mourned the death of the god Osiris. In ancient Persia, the Persians also treated it as a sacred plant.
Supernatural and religious symbol
The ancient Druids of what’s now Ireland believed vervain held supernatural powers. Worshippers of Thor in Scandinavia similarly used this plant in ceremonies and rituals calling upon its mystical powers. Both the Greeks and the Romans believed that it was a holy plant. They used the sacred vervain branches to purify their temples. The Greeks called it
Vervain Flower: Roots in Traditional German Medicine
During the middle ages, vervain was often used in magicians’ and witches’ potions. In folk medicine, the plant was used for protection, but was also used as an aphrodisiac, earning it the name herba veneris, or “herb of love.” The plant was highly revered in many European cultures and was considered a virtual panacea to treat organs of the abdominal region – along with the lungs, and as a remedy for headaches.
Hildegard of Bingen‘s synopsis
Hildegard von Bingen generally classifies the plant as “cooling.” Within Hildegard medicine she references vervain and verbena to treat swelling and inflammation in the throat, to heal ulcers, to treat jaundice, tooth and gum infections, and to reduce gum inflammation. Vervain remedies are commonly found in Traditional German Medicine and in Hildegard of Bingen Writings. The herb was once thought useful for diplomacy and was present at all contract signings and carried by messengers and envoys. Pliny the Elder described vervain as a “sacred plant” with innumerable applications including the ritual sweeping and smudging of homes and its use in potions for love and good fortune.
Reviving a forgotten medicinal plant
As a medicinal plant, vervain has been largely
In herbal medicine, the above-ground plant parts of vervain are used during the flowering period. They contain concentrations of bitter plant compounds and tannins, as well as silica and volatile essential oils. The tannins are part of what gives this herb its astringent (constricting) properties. Other active plant components include glycosides (
The medicinal effects of vervain include Antispasmodic (relaxant), Antipyretic (fever-reducing), Diuretic (water reducer), Astringent (constrictive), Antibacterial, and Anti-inflammatory. The natural astringent activity of this herb is what makes it a good oral rinse for bleeding gums and mouth ulcers. Gargling this plant with lukewarm water also helps to relieve sore throat inflammation. It can be used as a tea, a tincture, or topically.
Vervain is an antispasmodic, which makes it a great way to relieve cramps. The fever-reducing properties of this herb are also great for minor colds or fevers. Its anti-inflammatory properties make it a great natural remedy for many different conditions. You can use it for the following conditions such as digestive issues, urinary tract infections, kidney stones, gout & jaundice, headaches, insomnia, anxiety & depression, improve lactation, relieve painful menstruation, general pain relief, especially joint pain.
Vervain stimulates bile flow and establishes
The traditional application of medicinal vervain is in tea. The flavor of vervain tea takes some getting used to. Our modern palettes are less accustomed to bitter flavors and vervain is particularly bitter. Hildegard extolled the virtues of bitter flavors and encouraged working to improve our tolerance for bitter herbs. Notwithstanding the taste, vervain has played an important role in healing and herbal magic since ancient times. So, you should try to include it in your natural holistic healing regimen. Making your own vervain tea is a great way to start.
Vervain Tea Recipe
- Mix ten dry grams (approximately 1/3 ounce) each of vervain, thyme, elderflower, cowslip primrose, and peppermint.
- Add 2 heaping teaspoons of the herbal mixture per one cup of hot water. Allow
to steepfor ten minutes.
- Drink two to three cups daily, but for no longer than a week (and not during pregnancy).
- You can drink vervain tea to treat any of the conditions listed previously, but it works
- Particularly well for stomach ailments of all kinds. It will also strengthen your liver and kidneys.
We often talk about the value of bitter substances, particularly as digestive agents. Vervain has a bitter flavor profile so it is also a natural way to add bitter flavors into your diet.
You can use vervain as a skin lotion or compress. It helps relieve discomfort from insect bites and can accelerate the healing process by closing wounds more quickly. You can use fresh vervain plant, crushed into a pulp. Or you can just soak a clean cloth in a strong version of vervain tea and apply directly to your skin.
As always, consult with an herbalist or herbal medical practitioner if you are new to medicinal herbs. Consult with your physician if you suffer from any serious medical conditions or are currently under the care for a health condition.
You should also consult with your physician before taking vervain if you are currently taking any medications. This plant is a uterine stimulant. Because of its labor-inducing effects, you should not use it if you are pregnant. In fact, midwives use it for its effectiveness in encouraging labor. Even though Verbena