Blue Vervain (Verbana hastata)
$7.95 – $18.50
Strangely, this unassuming plant was one of the most revered herbs used by the Druids. It was called hiera botane (sacred plant) by the Romans, who used it to purify their homes and temples. The ancient Egyptians and Chinese also considered the plant as having “hidden powers”. It was the herb of prophecy for the magi, the mystic sages of Persia.
The name Verbena, is a classical name for branches of laurel, olive, myrtle, cypress, and other trees used in religious rites.
Vervain is used extensively by perfumery houses because of its delicate aroma.
Gerard gives an interesting treatise on the herb in his herbal. He recommended it for “Tertian and Quartaine Fevers,” but derided those who promoted it as a cure for the plague. He also warned against using the herb for “witchcraft and sorcery.”
The herb has long been used for dropsy. Modern research has identified cardioactive glycosides as being responsible for this action.
The herb also has antidepressant qualities, an idea that goes back to Pliny, at least. However, its action is weak unless taken in large doses, which are poisonous.
The Aztecs called it “medicine for urinating” and used the mashed roots as a diuretic.
In early 18th century “New Spain”, the Jesuits prescribed the herb as a remedy for headache, jaundice, and other ailments. Mexicans today use “verbena” tea to treat bad colds and flu.
Native American tribes also used the herb medicinally, mainly as a treatment for circulatory problems, headaches, insomnia, and hepatitis. The Teton Dakotas boiled the leaves to make a drink used to treat stomachache. The Omahas used the leaves for a beverage tea. The Mesquakies used the root as a remedy for “fits”. The Menominis made a tea from the roots to clear up cloudy urine. The Chippewas took the dried flowers and pulverized them to make a snuff to stop nosebleeds. The Iroquois made a root decoction and used it to treat intestinal worms.
A report from 1785 stated that American Army physicians used the plant as an emetic and expectorant when they could not find anything else, and found it to be a successful remedy.
The dried aerial parts were officially listed in the National Formulary from 1916 to 1926 as a diaphoretic and expectorant.