Verbena officinalis belongs to the herbs, which were used and highly valued even in ancient times. Moreover, it was a sacred herb, believed to be a good protection against witches.
Verbena from the large Verbenaceae family is also known as Vervain, or Blue Vervain, Wild or Indian Hyssop. It is a perennial plant with rough stems ranging in height from 35 to 80 cm. The pinnate and toothed leaves of Vervain are opposite and lanceolate.
Through the summer up to the late autumn the plant bears many small pale lilac flowers. The latter are composed of five petals. The odorless flowers are situated on the tops of the stems, forming spicate inflorescences. Vervain fruit is made of four nutlets, which separate from each other when ripe.
This particular species of Verbena is native to Europe, although its relatives were always abundant in North America and Asia. Vervain often grows wildly on the roadsides or in the fields. It prefers nutrient-rich soils with good drainage and sunny places, although it can also tolerate partial shade.
Aerial parts (leaves, flowers, stems) are said to possess healing properties, thus they are commonly used in herbalism.
A variety of remedies are made of Vervain leaves, stems and flowers: tinctures, infusions, and fluid extracts. Out of these one may prepare poultice, ointments, and mouth washes.
Verbena officinalis is a good sedative and nerve tonic. It is helpful in aiding sleep and soothing nerves. It is also considered to be an effective, astringent, and diaphoretic. It contains bitter iridoids, which have antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-viral activity. It is also rich in glycosides verbenaline and verbenine, which among other actions help utilize poison from the human body.
Tannins, found in Verbena, help in the treatment of skin disorders, as they stop bleeding and accelerate wound healing. They are also effective in fighting gastrointestinal conditions.
Other constituents of the Blue Vervain are saponins, essential oils, and mucilage. Chemicals, unique to this plant are verbenaloside, verbenin, verbenalin and bastatoside.
Preparations of Verbena are used to treat many health disorders, which significantly differ one from another. Nonetheless, centuries of use prove the effectiveness of the herb in the lessening of colds and diarrhoea duration, reducing fevers, inflammation, muscle pain, and migraine. Vervain is a bitter cooling herb, which improves digestion and treats upset stomach, gout, and gallbladder disorders, including gallbladder stones, ancient recipes state.
Verbena is said to be a mighty means to treat a number of nervous disorders: epilepsy, insomnia, anxiety, tension, hysteria, seizures and depression. It is the remedy, which mildly eliminates hyperactivity and soothes nervous system.
In spite of its sedative abilities, Vervain is a known aphrodisiac, which is said to work most effectively in women arousing sexual desire. However, it also stimulates the uterus; thus, it should not be used by pregnant women. Breast feeding mothers may, on the contrary, benefit from this herb’s preparations, as they may increase the production of milk and stimulate milk flow.
Vervain remedies are also used externally. Such skin conditions as eczema, sores, insect bites, bruises and wounds of different origins heal better if ointments with Verbena are applied to the skin. Mouth washes are used to improve the health of the teeth and cure gum diseases.
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