Used by herbalists for millennia to combat depression and mood swings, Vervain is a deeply penetrating nervine that soothes and sedates the nervous system. It is a relaxing and uplifting herb that can stimulate the release of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, enhancing mood and well being.
Vervain is also effective in promoting a good night's sleep without rendering the user groggy in the morning. Studies have found that the compound in Vervain responsible for inducing sleep is verbenalin - an iridoid glucoside.
Known as a “bitter herb”, Vervain is also a digestive stimulant, improving digestive function by increasing saliva production and promoting both stomach acid and digestive enzyme production. It is an especially good herb to use if your digestive issues are stress related – when we are stressed out our digestion can shut down as it is seen as non essential when we are dealing with a serious threat, and the fight or flight stress response is prioritised. Vervain works by helping to stimulate the appetite and relaxing the stomach when tension is held there.
Vervain tea can also be useful in helping to alleviate cramps, bloating and flatulence.
Vervain contains the active ingredients aucubin and oleanolic acid, powerful plant compounds that exert hepatoprotective effects. In particular, Vervain tea can help to stimulate the liver and encourage the healing of any damage done to this important organ. It can help to strengthen the liver if consumed on a regular basis, supporting the elimination of toxins from the body.
Vervain also functions as a diuretic in the body, assisting with the flushing out of unwanted toxins, especially in the urinary tract. It helps to combat water retention, thus improving kidney function. Another naturally occurring compound of this plant – apigenin – has also been found to prevent kidney damage.
Folklore and history
Vervain was known as a divine herb in Ancient Egypt where it was believed to come from the tears of the goddess Isis when she wept over the death of Osiris. The Ancient Egyptians and Chinese thought this herb had "hidden powers" and it was the herb of prophecy for the magi - the mystic sages of Persia.
Vervain was also one of the most sacred herbs to the Druids, who are said to have gathered it from shady places before sunrise, especially at the time of the rising of Sirius, the dog star. They utilised it in divination, consecration, and ritual cleansing of sacred spaces.
It is also called "Herb of the Cross" because folk legend declared that it was used to staunch the flow of Jesus' blood after he was removed from the cross.
Vervain has been revered by many cultures and their peoples for millennia. Hippocrates (the Ancient Greek physician and “father of medicine”) is said to have used it for fever and the plague.
The Aztecs used the roots of this herb as a diuretic and referred to it as “medicine for urinating”, whereas in North America the Native American tribes used it for insomnia, to boost circulation and for headaches.
Vervain tincture 100ml 2-4ml x 3/day.
Iridoid glycosides (verbenin, verbenalin, bastatoside), bitter principle, tannin, volatile oil (including citral, geraniol, limonene, verbenone), mucilage, unidentified alkaloid, saponin.
It should be avoided during pregnancy because it is a uterine stimulant, but it may be taken during labour to stimulate contractions.
If you are taking any prescription medications, please consult with your healthcare practitioner before using Vervain.