Discovering the Vervain Plant, Part 2

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I previously wrote about the uses of the vervain plant, a well-respected herb that has been revered for more than 3,000 years throughout Europe, Asia and Africa. Here is part two of my vervain profile, in which I describe this beloved plant’s personality.

Allow me to explain the type of “person” blue vervain is, as someone with this personality will most likely benefit from the herb.

People with a personality similar to blue vervain are generally people that are “nervous exhausted” and “can’t shut off,” as my herbalism teacher Lise Wolff so eloquently states. “Blue vervains” always put themselves under a lot of stress, always trying to accomplish more—and with their huge to-do list, they always feels like they have accomplished less, said Jim McDonald, a Michigan herbalist, on an herb walk I was on with him in August 2011. “Blue vervains” have very talkative minds, and may even talk outloud to themselves (best combine with agrimony); are control-freaks, extremely self-critical, responsible, reliable and loyal.

As a side-note “hoary vervains” are malnourished due to extended periods of time being overly stressed. This stress can lead to adrenal fatigue (paired with borage). Now, an imbalanced “blue vervain,” as Lise Wolff, an herb teacher, taught me during our talk about this plant, is idealist to the extreme, overly impatient, extremely self-critical (they won’t do something if they can’t do it perfectly), precise and organized. Physical ailments of this imbalance include extreme nervous-exhausting, risk of high-blood pressure and heart attack, asthma (due to controlling emotions—prickly lettuce), insomnia from over-thinking, sugar-cravings, hot flashes, heartburn and indigestion, OCD, depression and anxiety, and poor circulation.

The last mentioned ailment of an out-of-balance blue vervain personality is poor circulation, which can cause a slew of other ailments. Poor circulation can result in constriction of the blood, which can cause even more problems including cold extremities, IBS, headache and migraine and “‘female troubles,” as Wolff taught us.

Vervain is also touted as a great herb for women’s health issues, like heavy bleeding. Other herbs that mix well with vervain to help improve one’s menstrual cycle include lady’s mantle, red raspberry, vitex (as a relative to vervain, this herb is a great muscle relaxant and hormone regulator) and agrimony. Lastly, 7Song, an herbal acquaintance and friend of mine who is very interested in Ayurvedic medicine, says that an unbalanced vervain personality is usually a “Pitta-on-fire” type, meaning they are always planning. He states that vervain “seems to relax what looks like excessive neurotransmitting firing” for “vervains” who suffer from insomnia due to over-thinking. Finally, he likes to group this nervine with other ones with similar properties including California poppy (Eschscholzia californica), hops (Humulus lupulus ), Jamacian dogwood (Piscidia piscipula) and skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora).

I would like to end my vervain profile with stories from my herb teacher about her past “blue vervain” patients.

One of Wolff’s patients came in complaining of an injured knee—a musculoskeletal injury. Wolff asked questions as to what she had done recently that might have caused this injury. Eventually, she  learned that this patient had went on a 100-mile bike ride to keep up with her pro-biker boyfriend. Wolff proceeded to find the best drop-dosage of blue vervain for her patient, and it healed her physical injury—and also helped with her extreme over-competitiveness. 

Now for a  very sad and touching story. A 5-year-old patient who had been separated from her mother for the first three days after she had born (she had suffered a seizure) visited Wolff. She noticed how passive and almost lifeless the girl had seemed when she was in her office, so Wolff positively tested her for blue vervain. This made the girl interested, curious and excited about everything as a 5-year-old should.

“You know who to give this [remedy] to.” —Herbalist 7Song, “Blue Verain(Verbena hastata)” article

*Statements herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, and are not intended to treat or diagnose any disease or health condition. It is also recommended that patients check with their doctors before taking herbs, to ensure that there are no contraindications with prescription medications. 

Freelance writer, community herbalist and medicine maker, Jennifer Heinzel hails from the cold city of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Jennifer is an avid writer, especially for anything folklore or myth-related to herbalism. She has written for the Chequamegon co-op, the United Plant Savers’ journal, and the NorthPoint Health & Wellness center. Visit Thymes Ancient Remedies to read more from Jennifer.

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