Herbal Nerd Society Exclusive Article
Blue Vervain (Verbena hastata) is an anti-anxiety herb that is growing rapidly in popularity. It offers a number of advantages to Western herbalists: it is cheap, easy to grow, effective, and it blends nicely with other tension taming herbs. In the post-industrial world we live in, a reliable nervine is just what the herbalist ordered.
It is important to know that in many sources of herbal literature, blue vervain has sometimes been referred to simply as vervain. In this article, we are referring to just Blue Vervain (V. hastata) not it’s cousin, Vervain (V. officnalis). Both are Verbena species and both have been used interchangeably as nervines but are slightly different.
Both blue vervain’s leaves and roots can be used. The roots are traditionally considered to possess a higher concentration of its sedative properties but there is little to no research to back up this claim. There are other properties that this herb has such as bitters for digestion but the sedative/nervine properties have garnered the most attention. In 2002, a sleep study was conducted on rats in a lab which concluded that blue vervain did, indeed, improve REM sleep. This was, of course, only the beginning.
Blue vervain is excellent when blended with other herbs that support the parasympathetic nervous system. Coupled with lemon balm, it helps relieve anxiety. Blended with passionflower or valerian, it combats many forms for insomnia. Added to formulas containing motherwort or skullcap, it can help soothe a panic attack. Combined with herbs like Saint John’s wort, blue vervain makes a difference for people struggling with depression brought on by post-traumatic stress syndrome. These are only a few herbs that find themselves in partnership with blue vervain. In all of these formulas, blue vervain has an equal ratio or stands prominently in the ingredient list.
Dosage can vary depending on the formula, intention and delivery device. Blue vervain is widely available in capsules, tinctures and teas. The leaf is often mixed with the flower which helps the buyer know at a glance, if the herb is freshly dried or not. The purple color of the flower is fairly fragile. It’s flavonoids fade quickly in sunlight after picking.
Contraindications: Blue vervain is strongly contraindicated in pregnancy. It is known as a uterine stimulant and is thus also contraindicated for women with menorrhagia (heavy menstrual cycle bleeding) and endometriosis.