Verbena officinalis

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Latest Edit: Hector 2014-03-18 (EDT)

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Vervain (Verbena officinalis) is used to treat conditions caused by nervous tension, exhaustion and stress such as anxiety, headaches, insomnia, low appetite and even low breast milk production. Vervain has small, pale lilac flowers arranged in spikes. It is a perennial with dull green, opposite leaves that are roughly ridged and bristled. There is not much of a smell, but the taste is astringent and bitter. To explore the characteristics, medicinal uses and prescribing considerations of this herb in more detail, check out the references indicated.[1], [2]


  • Common Names: Vervain, ma bien cao (Chinese), herb of grace. The name "vervain" comes from the Celtic ferfaen which meant to drive away a stone, referring to a traditional use of vervain for bladder problems and urinary stones.
  • Family: Verbenacea
  • Habitat: Native to the Mediterranean. Grows wild in Europe, North America, China, and Japan. There are several other species that are also native to these areas.
  • Parts Used: Aerial parts - leaves and flowering tops. The root is not used medicinally, but along with the entire plant, it has a huge history of sacred and healing uses in European, Christian, and Celtic folklore.
  • Constituents: Bitter iridoid glycosides such as verbenin and verbenalin are among the main constituents. Verbenin is thought to be the constituent that stimulates milk production in lactating women. It is also purported to block sympathetic innervation of the heart, blood vessels, intestines, and salivary glands, leaving an unopposed parasympathetic state in these organs. Vervain also contains volatile oils, alkaloids, mucilage, flavonoids, tannins, and caffeic acid derivatives.

The leaves contain adenosine and beta-carotene.


Medicinal Uses

  • Nerve Tonic

Prescribing Considerations

The information provided is intended to augment the treatment from a naturopathic doctor or other trained medical professional. Although most herbs are generally safe, it is recommended that you avoid self-prescribing especially when there is an underlying ongoing medical condition, if you are on any prescription medications or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Formulations and Preparation

  • Tincture - 15-20 drops three times a day


The safety and prescribing considerations for this herb include:

  • Generally regarded as safe.


  1. Boon Heather, Smith Michael (2009) 55 Most Common Medicinal Herbs: The Complete Natural Medicine Guide Second Edition Institute of Naturopathic Education and Research, CCNM Toronto.
  2. Godfrey Anthony, Saunders Paul, Barlow Kerry, Gowan Matt (2011) Principles and Practices of Naturopathic Botanical Medicine, Advanced Botanical Medicine. V3 CCNM Press, Toronto.