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Other names: Enchanter’s Plant, Herb of the Cross, Juno’s Tears, Pigeon’s Grass, Pigeonweed, Simpler’s Joy, Herb of Grace
The name Vervain is derived from the Celtic ferfaen, from fer (to drive away) and faen (a stone). Another derivation is given by some authors from Herba veneris, because of the aphrodisiac qualities attributed to it by the Ancients.
Vervain was reputedly pressed on Christ’s wounds to stop His bleeding; it was also considered sacred by the Druids and the Romans.
Priests used it for sacrifices, and hence the name Herba Sacra. The name Verbena was the classical Roman name for ‘altar-plants’ in general, and for this species in particular. The druids included it in their lustral water, and magicians and sorcerers employed it largely. It was used in various rites and incantations, and by ambassadors in making leagues. Bruised, it was worn round the neck as a charm against headaches, and also against snake and other venomous bites as well as for general good luck.
Vervain was thought to be good for the sight. Its virtues in all these directions may be due to the legend of its discovery on the Mount of Calvary, where it staunched the wounds of the crucified Saviour. Hence, it is crossed and blessed with a commemorative verse when it is gathered. It must be picked before flowering, and dried promptly.
Vervain as an Herb for Medicinal Uses
The medicinal parts are the dried aerial parts collected during the flowering season, the fresh, flowering herb, the flowers and the whole fresh plant.
Vervain is used to treat the liver and diseases related to the liver, exhaustion, fatigue, fever, insomnia, asthma, post-natal depression, as well as painful or irregular menses. It will also help increase the flow of a mother’s milk.
As a poultice it is good in headache, ear neuralgia, rheumatism, etc. In this form it colors the skin a fine red, giving rise to the idea that it had the power of drawing the blood outside.
Folk medicine: Preparations of Vervain are used for diseases and ailments of the oral and pharyngeal mucosa, such as sore throat, and for diseases of the respiratory tract, such as coughs, asthma and whooping cough.
In addition, the drug is used internally for pain, cramps, fatigue, nervous disorders, digestive disorders, liver and gallbladder diseases, jaundice, kidney and urinary tract complaints, menopausal complaints and irregular menstruation. It is also used to promote lactation and to treat rheumatic diseases, gout, metabolic disorders, chlorosis and edema. The drug is used externally as a gargle for cold symptoms and for diseases of the oral and pharyngeal cavity.
Chinese medicine: The herb is used for edema, chronic malaria, dysmenorrhea and carbuncles. The daily dose is 4.5 to 9 gm of the herb.
Homeopathic Uses: The herb is used for bruising and cerebral convulsions. Dose is 5 to 10 drops, 1 tablet or 5 to 10 globules 1 to 3 times daily
A decoction of 2 ounces 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.
Culinary Uses of Vervain
Unknown, not recommended.
Do not use during pregnancy.
Folklore & Magical Uses
Vervain is quite a useful magical herb. It can be used in protective spells, exorcism incenses, and love mixtures. Is also used in purifying baths; drink some vervain tea before retiring to prevent bad dreams.
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