blue vervain tincture

Blue Vervain: The Hidden Aspects Of A Magical Medicinal Herb

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Vervain is any of several attractive perennial herbs, the name given to members of the genus Verbena. The best-known species is European vervain (Verbena officinalis), which has a long and wide history of use in herbal medicine and magic.  

In addition to V. officinalis, less common varietals include blue vervain (Verbena hastata) and white vervain (Verbena urticifolia).  These less common types of Verbena  can be found growing wild in many countries but in abundance throughout Canada and the U.S. 

Blue Vervain is the variety I will be focusing on in this article. 

If you’re wondering how to identify Blue vervain, then this article is just for you. After reading through this article, you will be able to spot blue vervain wherever it is growing as well as know its medicinal benefits and uses.

Blue vervain

History and Traditions

Vervain has a long history as a sacred magical herb of powers and features in the folklore of Celtic, Northern European, and Roman cultures.

The name Verbena means “altar plant,” and it was used as an altar herb by the Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks. Known as a holy herb, it was burned in Roman temples and scattered on altars, while their soldiers carried sprigs of vervain as protection.

Anglo-Saxons in medieval times used vervain to protect them from the plague, snakebites, and evil spirits.

Early Egyptians believed that vervain was created from the tears of Isis, the Egyptian goddess of healing and magic when she wept for her dead husband Osiris.

Vervain also had connections to Jesus’ crucifixion. According to one legend, this herb was pressed into Christ’s wounds and used to stop bleeding, and thus has earned the moniker ‘herb of the cross’. 

By the 16th century, it had become the “official” herb of English apothecaries. They used it to treat at least 30 ailments.

Although it fell from favor as herbal medicine evolved beyond herbalism’s historical foundations, it still has a place in modern herbal medicine today.

blue vervain

Where to Find Blue Vervain.

Blue vervain (Verbena hastata), also called common verbena, Juno’s tears, wild hyssop, enchanter’s plant, herb of grace, herb of the cross, pigeon’s grass, simpler’s joy, swamp verbena, American blue vervain, and many more. 

It is an herb native to North America and is closely related to vervain (V. officinalis). It can grow up to 5 feet in height and produces small blue flowers. In the wild it is most often found in disturbed areas, moist prairies and meadows, around springs and stream banks, and in low, open woodlands.

blue vervain

How to Identify Vervain.

Blue vervain is a perennial wildflower that does not emit a scent. 

  • Stems: Its square stems can be green or red with fine white hairs.  
  • Leaves: Its leaves progress in pairs up the stem and are about 6 inches long by 1 inch wide. They are green and rough to the touch, with double-toothed or serrated margins.
  • Flowers: Purplish-blue flowers bloom in showy, elongated panicles and are up to 5 inches long that appear similar to the arms of a candelabra. Each bloom is about 1/4 inch across and noticeably lobed. Blue vervain blooms in mid to late summer; approximately 1 1/2 months after blooming each flower gives way to four oblong, reddish-brown triangular-convex “nutlets.” Flowers at the bottom of the spike bloom first, and the ring of flowers appears to advance upward. Sometimes, depending on conditions, some plants will produce lavender and sometimes even white flowers.
  • Roots: Blue vervain spreads through rhizomes, producing new plants.

Is Blue Vervain Edible?

Surprisingly, yes! Traditionally, blue vervain has a long history of use among native people. Here’s what we learned:

  • Seeds: The seeds can be eaten roasted or ground into a flour or meal. However, due to the bitter taste, the seeds are often soaked in cold water first to make them taste more pleasant. 
  • Leaves: The leaves can be used as a tea or in salads, soups, etc. 
  • Roots: The roots can be gathered all year round then processed and consumed for medical purposes such as a tonic, for calming the nervous system, relieving pain, and treating mental illnesses. 
  • Flowers: The flowers are pretty and can be tossed onto salads to garnish them.
blue vervain tincture

Medicinal Uses

Holistic practitioners and herbalists believe that blue vervain has healing properties, including:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antibacterial
  • Antispasmodic
  • Analgesic (pain-relieving)
  • Nervine 

Stress Treatment

Common uses of blue vervain include as a nervine for us anxious overthinkers and a treatment for depression. The aerial parts are harvested when flowering and dried, while the root is also used. Researchers linked this to the plant’s content of flavonoids and tannins, both of which are known to possess antianxiety and sedative properties.  

Anti-inflammatory & Pain Relieving

The anti-inflammatory, anti-fever and pain-relieving properties of blue vervain are similar to aspirin and is said to provide relief for gout. 

This herb is also a gentle astringent that has been used as a mouthwash for sore, inflamed, and bleeding gums; as an eyewash for tired, inflamed eyes; and to help irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), coughs, or asthma. Its astringency combined with its antispasmodic properties makes it helpful for IBS and relieves constipation. It also boosts kidney and liver function.

Antimicrobial

Vervain extract derived from the stem of V. officinalis killed the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa in the test tube more effectively than the antibiotic amoxicillin. Similarly, the plant’s leaves showed considerable activity against the bacterium Citrobacter freundii. The root turned out to be highly effective against the bacterium Bacillus subtilis.

Balancing Hormones

Vervain is useful for increasing perspiration and regulating temperature, which helps when one is ill. It has positive benefits that improve a person’s mood, making it a great pick-me-up during recovery from illness. Vervain balances hormones and normalizes thyroid function. It is used to treat menstrual cramps and complaints including hormonal headaches, and is beneficial as a tincture to cool menopausal hot flashes and reduce mood swings.

blue vervain

How to Use Blue Vervain

Vervain is often used as a tea, but it may also be taken as a blue vervain tincture. If you can’t find vervain growing near you, you can buy the dried aerial parts (leaves and flowers) to make your own herbal tea.

diy sleepy time tea

Where to Purchase Herbs

If you don’t have access to local or homegrown herbs, I highly recommend purchasing them from Mountain Rose Herbs. They are my favorite place to buy high-quality, organic dried herbs and herbal products. As a company they believe in people, plants, and planet over profit and only ever source their herbs ethically and sustainably. It is through this ethical, responsible sourcing, that they are able to offer one of the largest selections of certified organic herbs, spices, and botanicals in North America.

Cautions

Vervain is quite safe to use, but it should not be taken in large doses. It is not recommended for use during pregnancy because it can stimulate the uterus, and it should not be used with blood pressure medications or hormone therapy. Large doses may cause diarrhea or vomiting.

Concluding Thoughts

As we delve into the forgotten treasures of nature, it’s clear that blue vervain, with its centuries-old medicinal uses, is just the beginning.

There’s a whole world of wild plants around us, each with its unique gifts waiting to be rediscovered. I invite you to join me on this journey of exploration and reconnection with the natural world. Let’s uncover the hidden benefits and ancient wisdom these plants hold. Check out our other articles where we dive into the wonders of the wild plants growing right in our backyards. Here are a few favorites:

Disclaimer: outdoorapothecary.com is informational in nature and is not to be regarded as a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice. While we strive to be 100% accurate, it is solely up to the reader to ensure proper plant identification. 

Some wild plants are poisonous or can have serious adverse health effects. We are not health professionals, medical doctors, nor are we nutritionists. It is up to the reader to verify nutritional information and health benefits with qualified professionals for all edible plants listed in this website.  The information provided is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the guidance of your qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.

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1 thought on “Blue Vervain: The Hidden Aspects Of A Magical Medicinal Herb”

  1. Not a comment but more of an inquiry. Do you know how I could find out about Blue Vervain’s possible interaction with bio identical hormone replacement? It’s natural, made from wild yam and other natural ingredients. Mine is compounded in a pharmacy. Maybe you could guide me to the info I need.
    Thank you for your time.

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