Vervain, (verbena officinalis) is a perennial herb from the mint family used by Ancient Romans to sanitize their temples and homes; it can be described as a slender plant with small, pale lilac flowers borne on leafless spikes. The parts that grow above ground are used to make medicine. Vervain has been used for many conditions, including stimulation of lactation and treatment of dysmenorrhoea, jaundice, gout, kidney stones and headache. Women use this herb for treating symptoms of menopause, irregular menstruation, and increasing milk flow, if breast-feeding.
Many herbalists prescribe vervain tea as a stimulant, astringent, diuretic and diaphoretic to alleviate fever by encouraging sweating. It also contains nervine, anti-spasmodic, sedative, hepatic, alterative, galactogogue, aphrodisiac, emmenagogue, thymoleptic, vulnerary, hypotensive and anti-bacterial properties. Ointments or lotions prepared with this herb are effective in curing eczema, injuries and even weeping sores. The ointment may also be applied to get relief from excruciating neuralgia or nerve pain. Vervain is certainly a key herb for promoting digestive function as it increases digestive juices, improves absorption and assimilation and promotes bile flow and emulsification of fats. It helps to stimulate the appetite and also relaxes the stomach when tension is held there, both of which are key for promoting digestion.
It is considered a thymoleptic, which is a substance that favourably modifies the mood and is therefore useful in cases of mild depression, especially when it’s accompanied by anxiety. Vervain has long been considered a cure-all and sacred plant. It was credited with helping to save those afflicted with the medieval plagues. The name vervain is derived from the Celtic ferfaen, from fer (to drive away) and faen (a stone), as the plant was often used to treat afflictions of the bladder. The anti-inflammatory abilities of the herb are known to assist with the aches and pains of osteoarthritis, while the herb has also reported to have an effect on depression and other nervous disorders.
Vervain tea is surprisingly safe to consume compared to other herbs, with no notable side effects to be aware of, it should be avoided when taking medications with similar effects to the herbs, and pregnant or nursing women should avoid herbs due to unpredictable maternal effects.