Updated: Oct 7, 2019
Latin name: Verbena hastata
Plant Family: Verbenaceae. Not in the mint family! Native to North America. Our plants were grown from seed gifted to Leah by her herbal teacher, Leslie, from plants at her home.
Parts Used: Leaves and flowers
Safety: Not for use during pregnancy, or in the presence of overt liver disease. It has been reported that blue vervain can interfere with blood pressure medication and hormone therapy. Large doses can induce vomiting and diarrhea. Consult a naturopath or herbalist before using if you take other medications.
Medicinal uses: Blue vervain is a nervine (affecting the nervous system), which has historically been uses to ease anxious stress and tension. It "can be especially effective at easing nervous tension that manifests as stiffness or rigidity in the neck, shoulders, and back" (Jeff and Melanie Carpenter, The Organic Medicinal Herb Farmer).
I recommend reading this great profile of Blue Vervain on Herb Rally. It talks about how blue vervain can be particularly useful for people who might be categorized as type A, overachievers, or those who are critical of others, helping them find calm, relieve stress, and reduce irritability. "It is often indicated for the over-thinker, worrywort, and intensely driven person for its calming effects and its ability to quiet the over-active mind."
Blue vervain is also used frequently for menstrual cycle support, including mitigating symptoms of PMS and balancing hormones during menopause. According to Richo Cech in Making Plant Medicine, "the poultice of the mashed, fresh plant can be applied to ease muscle soreness or the pain of rheumatism and to speed healing of wounds, burns, and lesions."
Blue vervain is intensely bitter and can be taken to promote digestion. It makes a very bitter tea, so sample it, or it may be time to learn how to make a tincture if you'd like to try out this herb! See below:
How to make a basic tincture:
Alcohol - 80 proof Vodka will work just fine
1 or 2 pint jars depending on how much you want to make
A simple folk tincture can be made by removing stems and chopping the plant's fresh leaves and flowers. Loosely pack into a glass jar, leaving about 1 inch of head space. Cover with alcohol, making sure all plant material is submerged. Put a lid on the jar, label with contents and date, and store in a cool dark place. Visit your tincture daily to shake gently, and it will be ready in 1 month. Strain out the plant material and store the finished tincture out of direct light. You generally find tinctures in small bottles like these and dosages are taken in drops or dropperfuls.