encyclopedia

Vervain Tea

Scientific Names:
Verbena officinalis L. [Fam. Verbenaceae]

Forms:
Liquid extract, crushed herb and tincture made from the roots and leaves of Verbena officinalis L.

Traditional Usage:
– Arthritic Pain Relief

– Bladder Health Maintenance

– Digestive Disorders

– Diuretic

– Fever

– Glandular Disorders

– Graves’ Disease

– Liver Health Maintenance

– Menopause

– Menstrual Health Maintenance

– Nervous Disorders

– Promotes Lactation

– Respiratory Health Maintenance

– Wounds, Sores, and Burns

Overview:
Vervain, Verbena officinalis L. [Fam. Verbenaceae], also known as wild hyssop, or simpler’s joy, is a widespread perennial plant found in almost all temperate regions. It is used in folk medicine as a diuretic, astringent, galactagogue (increases breast milk), expectorant, and antirheumatic. Dr. James Duke in The Green Pharmacy recommends vervain for treating Graves’ disease, a condition that involves too much thyroid hormone, and hypothyroidism. Dr. Duke explains that vervain extracts have been shown to suppress thyroid hormone production by influencing levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) in the body. Vervain can help with both these conditions because it seems to normalize thyroid hormone levels regardless of whether there’s too much or too little. Russian studies also show that vervain tinctures have adaptogenic (balancing) activity. According to Foster and Duke, vervain has been used experimentally in China to control malaria symptoms, kill blood flukes (parasites) and germs, stop pain and inflammation. Chinese research shows vervain to have synergistic action with prostaglandin E2. Iridoids found in vervain have been shown to produce antiphlogistic (fever and pain reducing effects), analgesic, and some beneficial parasympathic nervous system modulating effects in animals. According to German researchers, vervain preparations are used for disorders and complaints involving the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat (angina and neck pain), for respiratory complaints (coughs, asthma, whooping cough), for aches, cramps, exhaustion, nervous disorders, digestive upsets, liver and biliary disorders, complaints involving the kidneys and lower urinary tract, for menopausal complaints, irregular periods, for promoting the secretion of milk during lactation, for rheumatic disorders, arthritic pain relief, metabolic upsets, “greensickness” (chlorosis, anaemia), water retention (oedema), and for poorly healing wounds, sores, and burns. However, there are no controlled human studies to back these claims and therefore the German Commission E does not officially recommend vervain for therapeutic use.

Active Ingredients:
Vervain contains 0.2%-0.5% iridoid glycosides (verbenalin, hastatoside); caffeic-acid derivatives such as verbascoside; traces of essential oil; bitter substances (possibly identical with the iridoids; some mucilage. (Wichtl and Bisset)

Suggested Amount:

Dried Herb: 2-4 grams or by infusion three times daily.

Liquid extract (1:1 in 25% alcohol) 2-4 ml, three times daily.

Tincture (1:1 in 40% alochol) 5-10 ml three times daily.

Vervain can be taken as a tea. To make the infusion pour boiling water over 1.5 grams (1 teaspoon = 1.4 grams) of finely chopped vervain, steep 5 to 10 minutes, then strain.

Drug Interactions:
None known.

Contraindications:
Excessive doses of vervain may interfere with existing hypo- or hypertensive and hormone therapies. Avoid during pregnancy and lactation, as vervain is an abortifacient and oxytocic agent with documented cases of in-vivo uteroactivity. At the Peking Medical College, vervain is being studied as an agent to naturally induce abortion. Vervain is classified by the FDA as an Herb of Undefined Safety.

Side Effects:
High doses of verbenalin are stated to paralyze the CNS, which may result in stupor and convulsions. Vervain may also affect lactation as it has been reported to have galactagogue properties. Vervain is classified by the FDA as an Herb of Undefined Safety.

References:

Duke, J. 1997: The Green Pharmacy, The Ultimate Compendium of Natural Remedies from the World’s Foremost Authority on Healing and Herbs. Pp.278; 332. Rodale Press.

Duke JA. 1985. Verbena Officinalis L. (Verbenaceae) – Vervain, Verbena. In Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, p. 508.

Foster S, and Duke JA. 1990. European Vervain in Medicinal Plants. Houghton Mifflin Co., New York, NY, p. 156.

Lahloub MF et al. 1986. Phenylpropanoid and iridoid glycosides from the Egyptian Verbena officinalis. Planta Med 1986; 52: 47

Wichtl M and NG Bisset (eds). 1994. Verbenae herba – Vervain, Verbena. In Herbal Drugs and Phyto-pharmaceuticals. (English translation by Norman Grainger Bisset). CRC Press, Stuttgart, pp. 520-522.