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Botanical Description & Habitat

Verbena hastata


Common names

American vervainBlue vervain
False vervainIndian hyssop
Simpler's joyTraveler's joy
Wild hyssop

Native of the northern United States and Canada, and is found in England. It is a perennial plant which flourishes in waste places, meadows, and moist fields.

Vervain has an erect, quadrangular stem which grows from 2 to 5 feet in height. It bears petiolate, serrate, oblong, lanceolate leaves. The flowers range from blue to purple-blue, are arranged in long spikes, and bloom from June to September.

Medicinal parts
herb, picked before flowering and dried promptly

Historical Properties & Uses

Blue vervain has not been the subject of much experimentation, although it has been used since the time of Hippocrates. Native American Indians used blue vervain in their medicine to clear cloudy urine, to ease stomach ache, and as a tonic.

Vervain has been employed in folk medicine as a diuretic for edema; an antidiarrheic, vulnerary, stimulant, sudorific, and emmenagogue; an expectorant for chronic bronchitis; a treatment for rheumatic pain; and as a stimulant for weakened conditions, nervous pains, sleeplessness, tiredness, and anemia.

In America, vervain was listed in the National Formulary from 1916-1926.

The beneficial effects of blue vervain have received some experimental support. Vervain's active principles are glycosides (verbenaline and verberine), substances with weak parasympathetic-mimicking activity.

In animal studies, blue vervain contracted the smooth muscles of the uterus and gastrointestinal tract, with low toxicity. Vervain also demonstrated anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.

Verbena has not achieved approval status by the German Commission E. Either there was insufficient evidence in favor, or a contraindication.


Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.

Method of Action

Pharmacology Of Vervain And Verbenin
Blue vervain has received only small experimental attention, but a scattering of effects have been observed. Vervain has diuretic and anthelmintic actions in the rat. An alcohol extract was shown to have moderated anti-inflammatory activity in the carragenin-induced rat paw edema assay. The essential oil has moderate bacterial activity. In small doses verbenin, a component of vervain, stimulates the sympathetic nerve endings of the epidermal mucous glands of the heart and blood vessels and of the intestine and salivary glands. Large doses produce an opposite, inhibitory effect. In mammals, it has been found to produce vigorous and lengthy secretion of milk.

Pharmacology Of Verbenalin
Verbenalin, another component, stimulates motor activity in the central nervous system of the frog. Large doses produce stupor, clonic and tetanic convulsions and paralysis. Verbenalin produces little effect in mammals apart from stimulation of the uterus which increases tonus and strengthens contractions. The substance has also been found to hasten blood coagulation.

Drug Interactions & Precautions

Limited data are available for vervain, hence, it is advisable to avoid excessive use, especially if pregnant, or lactating.

Safety Factors & Toxicity

The toxicity level of vervain has not been determined at this time.

The German Commission E status (of Verbena) is "null" or neutral i.e. while it is not approved, there is no documented risk. There may also be some concern over the claims made by manufacturers i.e. they are unproven.


Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.

Preparation & Administration

Three times a day

Dried herb
2-4 grams

made from 1 tsp of dried herb

Fluid extract
1:1 in 25% alcohol, 2-4 ml

1:5 in 40% alcohol, 5-10 ml

Note: This Herbal Preparation information is a summary of data from books and articles by various authors. It is not intended to replace the advice or attention of health care professionals.


Am Hospital Formulary Service. Am Soc of Hosp Pharm. Wash, D.C.

Benoit, P.S., et.al., Lloydia, 39, 160, 1976.

Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.

Breitwieser, K. Pharm. Ind. 10, 76, 1943.

Bressler, R., M.D. Bogdonoff & G.J. Subak-Sharpe. 1981. The Physicians Drug Manual. Doubleday & Co, Inc. Garden City, NY. 1213 pp.

Committee on Pharmocopaeia of the Am Institute of Homeopathy, The Homeopathic Pharmacopaeia of the United States. 8th ed., Vol 1. Otis Clapp and Son, Agents, Boston, l981.

Culbreath, David M. R. A manual of Materia Medica and Pharmocology. Eclectic Medical Publications, Portland, Or, l983.

Goodman, L.S. & A. Gilman. 1975. Pharm Basis of Thera. MacMillan, NY. Hansten, P.D. 1979. Drug Interactions, 4th ed. Lea & Febiger, Phila.

Kastrup, E.K., ed. 1981. Drug Facts and Comparisons, 1982 edition. Facts and Comparisions Division, J.P. Lippincott Co, Phila(St. Louis).

Kuwazima, K. Tohoku J. Exp. Med., 36, 28, 1939.

List, P. & L. Hoerhammer. 1969-1976. Hagers Hanbuch der Pharmazeutischen Praxis, vols. 2-5. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.

Merck, E. Merck's Iber., 31 & 32, 513, 1917-1918.

Merck, E. Index, 2nd Edition, Darmstadt, 1902; 5Th Edtion, Rahway, N.J., 1940.

Martin, E.W. 1978. Drug Interactions Index, 1978/79. J.B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia.

Maruzzella, J.C. & N.A. Sircurella. Antibacterial activity of essential oil vapors. J Of The Am Pharm Assoc, 49(11), 692-694, 1960.

Maruzzela, J.C. & M.B. Lichtenstein. The in vitro antibacterial activity of oils. J. Of The Am. Pharm. Ass. 45(6), 378-381, 1956.

Mowrey, Daniel B., Ph.D. Exper. Psych., Brigham Young University. Director of Nebo Institute of Herbal Sciences. Director of Behavior Change Agent Training Institute. Director of Research, Nova Corp.

Pammel, L.H. Manual Of Poisonous Plants. The Torch Press, Cedar Rapids. 1911.

Scientific Committee, British Herbal Pharmocopaeia, British Herbal Med Assoc, Lane House, Cowling, Na Keighley, West Yorks, Bd Bd220lx, l983.


Verbena hastata

Blue Vervain 2.

? Southwest School of Botanical Medicine

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