What is Blue Vervain?
Blue vervain or Verbena officinalis is a perennial plant believed to originate from the Mediterranean region. Nowadays it grows wild in various other parts of the world including most of Europe, North Africa, Japan and China. American Blue Vervain or Verbena hastata is another type of the same plant and is a native of Canada and parts of northern USA.
The American variety is taller and grows to around five feet. It produces beautiful blue flowers and is commonly seen in meadow lands, prairies, stream banks, swamps, open woodlands and even along the roadsides. Other common names for the pant are Swamp verbena, Juno’s Tears, Herb of the cross and Pigeonweed.
The aerial parts of the plant are harvested when the plant is in bloom during late spring and summer. It is considered to have a number of important benefits some of which include pain and inflammation relief, immune system protection and easing congestion.
The History of Blue Vervain
According to historians, blue vervain was once highly revered by the ancient Celtic druids. The Romans who also revered it knew the plant as hiera botane meaning ‘sacred plant. The Romans used it for purification purposes in their temples and their homes. Both the ancient Chinese and the Egyptians believed the plant to have hidden powers and it was used by the Persian magi in prophecy rituals.
The botanical name of Verbena is the traditional name given to plants and trees which were used in religious ceremony including myrtle, olive, cypress and laurel branches.
The herb has historically been used to treat a number of illnesses including fevers and dropsy. It has also been used to remedy depression and anxiety but its effects are considered mild unless the herb is taken in very large quantities and large doses are poisonous. The ancient Aztecs regarded blue vervain as a diuretic and mashed up the roots of the herb to promote urination.
Later on, during the 18th century, it was prescribed in Mexico to treat headaches and jaundice among many other ailments. Today, Mexicans still use a tea made with blue vervain as a remedy for the common cold and the flu.
The Native Americans who certainly knew a thing or two about herbs used blue vervain to treat the circulatory system and for headaches, hepatitis and insomnia. Some tribes boiled the plant’s leaves and drank it as a tea to remedy stomach ache. They also used the roots to treat fits and to clear up clouds in the urine.
The Chippewa tribe pulverized the dried flowers and made a type of snuff to treat and stop nosebleeds. Another tribe – the Iroquois are known to have made a decoction from the roots as a treatment for intestinal parasites. Reports from the late 18th century suggest that blue vervain was used by American army doctors as an expectorant and emetic.
Medicinal Properties of Blue Vervain
Blue vervain has such an illustrious history of use for very good reason. The plant contains volatile oils including citral, tannins, alkaloids, bitter glycocides and mucilage all of which give the plant its medicinal benefits. The therapeutic properties of the plant include antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, laxative, nervine, diuretic and expectorant actions. It may also have mild sedative effects, bile stimulating and liver restorative actions.
Now that we have looked at the plant’s history, let us take a closer look at some of the potential uses of blue vervain.
What is Blue Vervain used for?
Blue vervain has been used by various cultures down the years as a diuretic to naturally stimulate urination. Natural diuretics of this nature can help rid the system of toxins, excess salts, fat and water. By frequently detoxing the system, you can ensure your liver and kidneys remain healthy. Blue vervain can also help treat urinary tract infections.
Drinking a tea made from blue vervain is an excellent natural remedy for those annoying seasonal complaints like the cold and the flu. People over the years in various parts of the world have used the plant as a remedy for congestion and other cold symptoms. It can help relieve irritation in the respiratory tract and also expel mucus because of its expectorant quality
3) Stress and Anxiety
Drinking a soothing cup of herbal tea is often a great antidote for mild stress, anxiety and even insomnia. Anybody that suffers from an anxiety related condition is fully aware of just how debilitating it can be. Many of us are on the lookout for a natural remedy to use instead of the powerful prescription medications that often do more harm than good.
While it is unlikely that blue vervain can help treat severe cases of anxiety, a cup before bed may just help soothe your nerves and let you sleep more peacefully. Blue vervain has also been used in the past to help people overcome depression.
According to anecdotal evidence and traditional use, it can help boost your overall emotional wellbeing though there is no evidence for the claims that it can boost serotonin and dopamine levels.
4) For Women’s Health
If you are a woman who suffers monthly from very the symptoms of very heavy periods, blue vervain may be of some help. According to traditional use of the plant, it can help relieve pain and reduce the severity of cramping during your time of the month. Its ability to enhance mood can also be a blessing for women during their menstrual cycle.
5) Oral Health
You can use an infusion made with blue vervain as a mouthwash to take care of a variety of troubling oral issues. The tannin content in the plant helps protect your mouth from infections and it can be used to treat sore gums, gingivitis and even to treat a sore throat.
6) Pain Relief
Blue vervain can be used to help overcome pain from a variety of sources. It has traditionally been used to treat headaches and neuralgia. It also possesses anti-inflammatory properties that make it a candidate for treating sore joints and may even help with conditions like rheumatism and arthritis.
7) To Stimulate Lactation
Many new mothers have great difficulty producing sufficient milk to feed their newborn babies. Blue vervain is one of a number of herbs that is believed to help stimulate milk production. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, please make sure that you consult your doctor before taking any herbal remedies.
How to Use Blue Vervain
Blue vervain can be taken in a variety of forms.
- The dried flowers are commonly taken in the form of a tea or infusion.
- It is also available in tincture form which is used for depression and as a digestive or liver tonic.
- You can use the plant to make a poultice that you can apply to soothe minor wounds, bites and cuts or apply to the temple to treat headaches.
- You can also use the infusion as a mouthwash to treat sore throats and oral problems like ulcers and sore gums.
Precautions and Side Effects
When taken in appropriate doses, blue vervain is generally thought to be safe. However, some side effects have been reported including upset stomach and mild rashes on the skin.
Like many herbal remedies, there is a possibility that blue vervain could interact with other medications. Please speak to your doctor before taking this or any other herbal remedy.