Valarian Root

Botanical Name: Verbena officinalis.

Other Common Names of Vervain: Common or European vervain, enchanter’s plant, herb-of-the-cross, herb of grace, holy herb, ma bian cao, pigeon’s grass, pigeonweed, simpler’s joy, verbena.

Habitat: Vervain was brought from Europe to North America and is now commonly found growing not only in North America, but also in North Africa, China, and Japan.

This plant does well in well-drained soil and full sun and it is often found growing along the edge of roads and in meadows.

Description: This perennial herbaceous plant grows to be about a meter tall and has simple opposing leaves.

In summer, it has tiny white, pink, purple or blue five-petal flowers that sit atop delicate spikes.

The active constituents of this plant are the glycosides verbenalin and aucubin, as well as volatile oil. Verbena officinalis is the most common species used in herbal remedies, however, other members of the family Verbenaceae may be interchangeable, such as blue vervain (V. hastata) and MacDougal verbena (V. macdougalii).

Plant Parts Used: Leaves and flowers, which are collected mid-summer when the plant is in full blossom.

Therapeutic Benefits, Claims and Traditional Uses of Vervain

Vervain is thought to affect the parasympathetic nervous system and therefore serves a restorative and recuperative function.

It is commonly used as a natural remedy for nervous tension, insomnia, anxiety, irritability, lethargy, and even depression.

Vervain is often used as an herbal remedy for women’s health issues. This herb has been prescribed post-pregnancy in order to enhance lactation as well as to stimulate contraction of the uterus and it is often used during labor.

The analgesic effects of it may counter headaches and abdominal pain associated with menstruation and as it is considered a natural antispasmodic, it is used to reduce menstrual cramping.

Vervain has also been used as an abortifacient to restore menstruation cycles when there is an unwanted pregnancy.

The tannins in this medicinal herb make it an astringent and therefore it could be used as a mouthwash for bleeding gums, halitosis, tonsillitis and mouth ulcers. One of its traditional uses includes chewing the vervain roots to strengthen teeth and gums.

Used as a poultice or ointment, the herb may be used as a natural remedy for bruises, skin infections, insect bites, eczema, and other skin disorders. It has also been used to alleviate sprains.

Vervain is considered a liver tonic, thought to stimulate appetite and aid digestion. Additionally it has been used to treat diarrhea.

This medicinal herb has also been included in “love potions” of many cultures, used in witchcraft and thought to be an aphrodisiac to stimulate sexual arousal.

Other traditional uses of this medicinal herb include treatment of colds, fever, asthma, colic, jaundice, gout, gallstones and parasitic worms.

Dosage and Administration

Vervain can be used in an infusion, tincture, poultice or ointment, depending on what ailment is being treated.

---Medicinal Action and Uses---

It is recommended in upwards of thirty complaints, being astringent, diaphoretic, antispasmodic, etc. It is said to be useful in intermittent fevers, ulcers, ophthalmia, pleurisy, etc., and to be a good galactogogue. It is still used as a febrifuge in autumn fevers.

As a poultice it is good in headache, earneuralgia, rheumatism, etc. In this form it colours the skin a fine red, giving rise to the idea that it had the power of drawing the blood outside. A decoction of 2 OZ. to a quart, taken in the course of one day, is said to be a good medicine in purgings, easing pain in the bowels. It is often applied externally for piles. It is used in homoeopathy.

Health Benefits of Vervain

  • Diarrhea
  • Ulcers
  • Intermittent fevers
  • Pleurisy – an inflammation of the pleura, which is the moist, double-layered membrane that surrounds the lungs and lines the rib cage.
  • Kidney stones
  • Scrofula – a form of Tuberculosis (TB)
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Expelling worms
  • Muscle spasms
  • Easing pain in the bowels
  • Menstrual problems
  • Increasing breast milk
  • As a medicinal poultice it is credited with treating headaches, hemorrhoids/piles and rheumatism


Specific: Not for use in pregnancy except under the supervision of a qualified healthcare practitioner.
General: We recommend that you consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before using herbal products, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.

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