Blue Vervain: Benefits, Uses, & Side Effects

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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Blue vervain is a perennial plant that has been used for fighting the symptoms of depression. It is also helpful in promoting sound sleep. Vervain aids in reducing inflammation and pain, alleviating stomach disorders like diarrhea, and protecting you against parasitic infection. It has also been studied for its antitumor and brain-boosting effects. In this article, find what is blue vervain, how it is good for you, its uses, and potential side effects.

What is Blue Vervain?

Blue vervain is a flowering plant that belongs to the vervain family, Verbenaceae. It has purple flowers and simple leaves with double-serrate margins. The scientific name of blue vervain is Verbena hastata and it is also known by other names like American vervain, simpler’s joy, and swamp verbena. It is a hardy and drought-resistant plant found across North America and used as an herb by many people.

This flowering herb was a popular remedy among the Native Americans and Romans. It is now used by many herbalists and traditional medicine practitioners. The unique composition of the acids and phytochemicals in blue vervain is responsible for the majority of its health benefits.

Flowering stalks of blue vervain

Beautiful and mesmerizing blue vervain flower Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Health Benefits of Blue Vervain

Let’s take a closer look at the numerous health benefits of this plant.

May Help Relieve Depression

Blue vervain has commonly been used for depression and anxiety.

An animal study published in 2016 suggests that this anxiolytic effect of the herb was maximum when a dose of 100mg per kg was administered. As the dose increased, the effect decreased. The study also mentions that vervain is rich in flavonoids like apigenin, luteolin, quercetin, kaempferol, and tannins, which help in relieving depression.

Another research published in the journal Basic and Clinical Neuroscience, in 2020, shows that the extracts of this plant could have an anti-depressant effect in adult rats. However, the dose proposed in this study is 200mg per kg.

Helps Promote Restful Sleep

Anecdotal evidence suggests that blue vervain tea was used for insomnia.

Studies conducted on vervain show that these effects of the plant are possible due to the presence of iridoids like hastatoside and verbenalin, and the polyphenol verbascoside in it.

Research published in the Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences journal indicated that blue vervain has hypnotic effects. It helps in reducing sleep latency, which means that it can minimize the time a person takes to fall asleep and improve the duration of sleep.

Reduces Pain & Inflammation

Herbal medicine practitioners in Navarra, Spain have been using blue vervain topically to fight inflammation.

Researchers used carrageenan, an additive to thicken and preserve foods, to induce inflammation in test subjects. One group was tested with blue vervain extracts, while the other was tested with methyl salicylate ointment, which is used for muscle and joint pain and cramps.

The results of this study showed that these extracts show anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties but they are less than that of the ointment.

Further research is awaited to determine if this herb can play a bigger role in alleviating gout, arthritis, or inflammation in the body.

Antimicrobial Properties

Blue vervain may be able to help treat stomach disorders.

Research published in the African Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology suggests that its leaf extract has been used in southern Nigeria for ulcers and microbial infections. Moreover, a 2010 research study confirms that the extracts of this herb have biologically active principles, which help fight diarrhea and gastrointestinal disorders.

It has also been shown to possibly reduce stomachache.

Other Benefits

Blue vervain can also help improve your health in the following ways.

  • Antitumor activity: In vivo studies show that vervain extracts have an anti-tumor potential. More studies are required to ascertain this benefit.
  • Mental focus: Many homeopathic medicines for boosting mental focus contain vervain as an ingredient. Consult with your doctor before you try these.
  • Malaria: This herb may be able to reduce the spread of malaria. A 2009 study points out that the ethanolic leaf extract of blue vervain helps in fighting against parasites causing malaria.

Blue Vervain Uses

Blue vervain can be consumed in the form of a warm infusion of leaves, roots, or flowers. You can also have its tincture for therapeutic effects.

Here is a simple way to make its tea at home.

A steaming cup of tea and a pot on a table

Bedtime Blue Vervain Tea

Enjoy a cup of this herbal tea for a relaxing sleep!
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Course: Herbal Tea, Bedtime
Keyword: vervain tea, Blue Vervain Tea
Appliance: Tea Strainer, Pot
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4
Author: Jinal Gangar

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp blue vervain
  • 4 tbsp lemon balm
  • 4 cups water
  • honey optional

Instructions

  • Bring the water to a boil.
  • Now add the blue vervain and lemon balm into the water and let it steep for about 10 minutes.
  • Once done, strain the tea into a cup and add honey or any other sweetener to your taste. You can also have the tea on its own if you don't mind the bitter taste.
    A steaming cup of tea and a pot on a table

Notes

If you find blue vervain tea bags, you can use them to make your tea.

Blue Vervain Side Effects

The side effects of blue vervain or verbena supplements are mentioned below:

  • When taken in large amounts, it may cause an upset stomach and nausea.
  • Allergic reactions like mild skin rashes may also appear.
  • Blue vervain can interact with certain medications used for blood pressure.

So, speak to your health expert before including it in your diet.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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