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Plant Series: Blue Vervain

Welcome to our new newsletter series, where we’ll focus on the plants themselves – materia medica, formulation, preparation making, and more.

Blue vervain’s Latin name is Verbena hastata. Verbena officinalis and Verbena brasiliensis can also be used interchangeably with Verbena hastata.

 

Thoughts on Blue Vervain

From Thomas Easley, RH

As an herbalist with 25 years of experience, I often find it difficult to pinpoint my favorite herb when asked. Instead, I usually share my top five or ten go-to herbs, and one that consistently shines is Blue Vervain (Verbena hastata). Today, I’d like to delve into the captivating world of Blue Vervain, its remarkable properties, and the fascinating history behind its use.

Blue vervain’s Latin name is Verbena hastata. Verbena officinalis and Verbena brasiliensis can also be used interchangeably with Verbena hastata.

Blue Vervain, Verbena hastata (I also use Verbena officinalis and Verbena brasiliensis interchangeably), is an exceptional relaxant known for relieving physical, and sometimes mental, tension.

It’s particularly effective for ambitious, driven individuals who tend to hold tension in their neck and shoulders. For them, Blue Vervain’s calming effects can be transformative, effortlessly clearing their minds. If you match the specific indication as a “stiff-necked overachieving listmaker who has a hard time asking for help” I’d recommend sitting down or being near a chair when taking it, as suddenly not having thoughts in your mind may surprise you to the point to going weak in the knees.

Blue vervain is indicated for “stiff-necked overachieving listmakers who have a hard time asking for help.”

The historical context of Blue Vervain’s use is intriguing. Its specific indication, which is the ideal use of an herb for certain individuals, has its roots in the Eclectic medicine of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Eclectic practitioners were inspired by homeopaths to identify the most specific indications for herbal remedies. Despite their disagreements on the validity of homeopathy and diluted remedies, Eclectics and Homeopaths found common ground when they discovered that some homeopathic remedies, when administered undiluted in tincture form, produced noticeable and very specific effects. This led to the development of specific indications in Eclectic medicine, which were sometimes referred to as black letter indications because they were bolded in the literature.
Energetics: Blue vervain is a lightly cooling, drying, and relaxing herb.

Blue Vervain’s specific indication highlights its efficacy for overachieving, hard-driving individuals who hold tension in their neck and shoulders. In addition to its relaxing properties, Blue Vervain boasts other fascinating qualities depending on the preparation used.

For instance, a strong infusion can induce relaxation but also cause sweating, nausea, and vomiting due to its bitterness. I recall a memorable blind tea tasting during which students who had overindulged in Blue Vervain infusion ended up giddily laughing and occasionally projectile vomiting – all without the distress normally associated with nausea and vomiting.

If you’re using Blue Vervain as a diaphoretic (to promote sweating), it takes a large dose of the infusion to be effective, so I advise adding anti-nausea herbs like spearmint, peppermint, ginger, or chai spices to the infusion. This combination works wonders for those who have stopped sweating, no matter the reason, including taking medications like antihistamines or anticholinergics. I’ve seen it work on people who can’t remember sweating, even when overheated, for decades.

Preparation Notes

From The Modern Herbal Dispensatory

 

INFUSION: Prepare blue vervain as a weak infusion for nervine properties, or as a Southern decoction (using leaf or root) for a strong lymphatic and diaphoretic remedy

TINCTURE: Fresh leaf and flowers (1:2, 60% alcohol); dried leaf and flowers (1:5, 40% alcohol)

GLYCERITE: Dried leaf and flowers (1:6)

Formulate with Blue Vervain

Relax Tincture Formula

2 parts Skullcap

1 part Motherwort

1 part Blue Vervain

 

Tension Relief Tincture Formula

4 parts Skullcap

4 parts Wood Betony fluid extract

2 parts Kudzu

2 parts Blue Vervain

1 part Lobelia

 

Both of these formulas also work well as an evaporative glycerite

Blue vervain growing in Thomas’ herb garden in North Carolina.