Botanical Name: Verbena hastata
Botanical Family: Verbenaceae (also includes lemon verbena)
Plant part used for medicinal purposes: flowers and leaves
Historical use: Blue Vervain is found in North and South America and was used by Native Americans and Aztecs for headaches and insomnia. It is very similar and can be used interchangeably with European Vervain (verbena officinalis), which was used medicinally by many different cultures including the Druids, Persians, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. In ancient Egypt, it was known as a divine herb believed to come from the tears of the goddess Isis when she wept over the death of the god Osiris.
Important chemical components: hastatoside, verbenalin, and verbascoside
Contraindications or warnings: Large doses can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Do not use during pregnancy.
Research on vervain demonstrates benefit for insomnia, anxiety, seizures and pain. It does this by boosting activity of the parasympathetic nervous system, activating kappa opioid and benzodiazepine receptors, and increasing GABA transmission in central nervous system.
Vervain studies show:
- Reduced insomnia and increased deep sleep time
- Lowered pain and inflammation
- Animal studies show improvement in seizures and anxiety
Makino Y et al. Hastatoside and verbenalin are sleep‐promoting components in Verbena officinalis. Sleep and Biological Rhythms. 2009 July; 7(3):211-217
Calvo MI. Anti-inflammatory and analgesic activity of the topical preparation of Verbena officinalis L. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006 Oct 11;107(3):380-2
Braga VF et al. Micropropagation, anti-nociceptive and antioxidant activities of extracts of Verbena litoralis Kunth (Verbenaceae). An Acad Bras Cienc. 2012;84:139-148.
Khan AW et al. Anticonvulsant, Anxiolytic, and Sedative Activities of Verbena officinalis. Front Pharmacol. 2016 Dec 21;7:499
Rashidian A et al. Anticonvulsant Effects of Aerial Parts of Verbena officinalis Extract in Mice: Involvement of Benzodiazepine and Opioid Receptors. J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2017 Oct;22(4):632-636