Vervain or Verbena Officinalis is a popular herb that belongs to the Verbenaceae family. There are different varieties of vervain plants all having medicinal uses — blue vervain or Verbena hastata, white vervain, hoary vervain, and MacDougal verbena. [1]

The perennial plant is native to the United States, Central, and Southern Europe, England, Asia, and North Africa. Blue vervain is found in grassy fields and by the roadsides. the slender plant grows 1-3 feet tall. It blooms with purple-blue flowers in the summer. [2]

The oblong-shaped leaves are used as herbal medicines for various health problems since ancient times. Vervain has been mentioned extensively in myths and folk stories of different cultures. It is a sacred herb in Greek, Egyptian, and Judeo-Christian traditions. [1]

The therapeutic plant is also known as Verbena, American Blue Vervain, Enchanter’s Plant, Holy Herb, Herb of Grace, Herb of the Cross, Juno’s Tears, Pigeon’s Grass, Pigeonweed, and Simpler’s Joy. [3]

Blue vervain is a traditional remedy for headache, blood circulation, sleep disorders, snake bites, pain, nervous disorders, tumors, etc. In Chinese medicine, vervain is used for fighting malaria, coughs, colds, and inflammation. Anecdotal reports also suggest the beneficial effects of the herb in treating skin disorders, gum and teeth problems, and low libido. [1]

Recent medical science has investigated all these claims and confirmed numerous therapeutic values and appropriate uses of vervain.

This article reviews the benefits and uses of vervain and its potential side effects, all based on science.

Blue Vervain- Chemical Constituents and Therapeutic Values

The active phytoconstituents of blue vervain are adenosine, aucubin, beta-carotene, caffeic-acid, citral, hastatoside, lupeol, ursolic-acid, verbenalin, verbena.

Researchers have discovered many therapeutic activities of these constituents including cellular apoptosis or anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, astringent, antispasmodic, diuretic, and anti-parasitic. [4]

Blue Vervain Potential Health Benefits

1. Blue Vervain Has Neuroprotective Effects

The potential neuroprotective effects of blue vervain may effectively prevent many progressive neuro-inflammations in humans. Neuro-inflammation can degenerate the vital nerve cells in the brain in the long term resulting in dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, prion diseases, etc.

According to a 2006 research study published in the journal Neuropharmacology, vervain extracts have cytoprotective effects on the brain’s cells. Researchers suggest that the herbal ingredient may be effective in preventing neuronal loss in potential Alzheimer’s disease victims. [5]

2. Vervain May Promote Good Sleep

Numerous clinical research confirms that verbena is a potent remedy for neurological disorders due to its anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), anticonvulsant (anti-seizure),  and sedative (calming or sleep-inducing) actions.

A 2016 clinical study conducted in Pakistan (Frontiers in Pharmacology), states that blue vervain in a dose of 50–300 mg. significantly increased the sleeping duration in rats. [6]

The researchers suggest the potential efficacy of the herb in treating insomnia, anxiety, and other neurological disorders in humans.

3. Vervain May Relieve Stress and Anxiety

Science has strong evidence to back the calming, sleep-inducing, anti-anxiety, and anti-stress effects of blue vervain phytoconstituents.

In a 2006 vitro study published in the journal Frontiers of Pharmacology, the researchers tested the anxiolytic or anxiety-relieving qualities of vervain in Swiss albino rats. [7]

Vervain extract at a 100 mg/Kg dose showed the most effective anxiolytic effects in the trial. The researchers account that the tannins and flavonoids in vervain such as quercetin,  luteolin, apigenin, and kaempferol are responsible for the anti-anxiety activities of the herb.

In another 2002 study published in the Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, vervain hastata or blue vervain proved to be a natural nerve tonic and sleep-inducing agent.

In the animal trial, Blue vervain had a hypnotic effect on the rats, increasing their quality and duration of sleep. [8]

4. Blue Vervain Has Anti-Cancer Effects in Fighting Leukemia

Leukemia is a life-threatening disease. It’s cancer in the white blood cells of the body affecting the lymphatic system and one marrow.

A 2009 research study published in the International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology, tested the anti-cancer activity of the blue vervain essential oil in chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients. [9]

The researchers suggest that natural compounds in blue vervain may be a potential new cure for cancer.

5. Blue Vervain Can Relieve Inflammation and Pain

Physical inflammations of different kinds cause redness, swelling, pain, etc.

The bioactive constituents of Blue vervain have potent anti-inflammatory and analgesic or pain-relieving effects.

Sometimes these natural compounds work better and more safely than anti-inflammatory drugs. Blue vervain can be an effective home remedy for muscle aches, menstrual cramps, headaches, and migraines.

A 2006 research report published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, investigated the anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of blue vervain topical application.

The researchers found out that the application of 3% methanolic extract of the blue vervain could significantly reduce pain and inflammation. [10]

6. Blue Vervain Can Treat Tumor

Not all tumors are cancerous. a benign tumor is only an abnormal growth of body cells. Tumors don’t spread to other areas of the body as cancer does.

However, tumors in vital organs of the body can cause adverse symptoms that need medical attention.

2013 in vivo study published in the Africana Journal of Traditional, Complementary, and Alternative Medicines, investigated the anti-tumor activity of verbena extracts in tumor-bearing mice. [11]

The study analyzed the effects of vervain extracts on tumor decreasing rate and immune function of the animals.

Vervain showed a promising 38.78% tumor-inhibiting rate in the mice without any side effects on their immune function. The researchers concluded that vervain may be a potential remedy for treating tumors in humans as well. [11]

Other Potential Health Benefits of Blue Vervain

Apart from the evidence-based therapeutic benefits of blue vervain discussed above, there are many other uses of the herbal ingredient in folk treatment. Many ethnopharmacology and anecdotal report suggest the efficacy of these traditional remedies using vervain. [12]

Blue vervain has a powerful astringent quality that may be beneficial for treating skin disorders (acne, pimples, cuts, bruises) infectious gum disease, bleeding gums, mouth ulcers, and overall oral health.

The diuretic effects of the herb can relieve diarrhea and help release toxins from the body through urination.

Blue vervain is also a good anti-parasitic agent and may treat, control, and prevent intestinal worms. [13]

How to Use Blue Vervain

In folk remedies, Blue vervain leaves and flowers are made into a tincture, infusion, topical ointment, or poultice to treat a number of diseases.

You should consult a doctor or an expert before using the herb in any form. It is recommended that you follow the proper dosage and guidelines for using blue vervain to avoid complications.

Potential Risk Factors and Side Effects

A large dosage of blue vervain may interfere with the nervous system and cause adverse effects such as allergy, stupor, seizures, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. [14]

If you are under prescription blood thinner medication such as Coumadin, the herb may pose side effects or undo the effects of the drugs.

Pregnant and nursing mothers are suggested to avoid using vervain. It may cause uterine contractions. Children below 2 years are also advised to not use vervain.

Bottom Line

Modern clinical research has investigated numerous therapeutic effects of blue vervain such as anxiolytic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antiparasitic, anticancer, antispasmodic, and sedative.

The bioactive constituents in vervain may be a potential remedy for different kinds of aches, cramps, pain, swelling, inflammation, skin infection, mouth ulcers, parasitic infections, anxiety, cancer, and so on.

You should follow the recommendation of an expert for the most effective and safe ways of using blue vervain for these health issues.

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