The Forager's Path - School of Botanical Studies

Plant Profile: Verbena

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Verbena macdougalii, native above 5,000′ in northern Arizona


Many Verbena spp. are used in the herb community.
V. officinalis is common in Europe
V. hastata is common in North America
Verbena macdougalii is common in northern Arizona
In the Verde Valley and Sedona, Glandularia spp. is in the same family and is used the same as Verbena.

The family is Verbenaceae. Verbenas used to be in the Mint family (Laminaceae) and share the well known square stem and opposite leaves.

Common Names:

Vervain, Blue Vervain

Southwest Habitat:
Above 6,000’, Verbena macdougalii is a flower of the meadows and open spaces rather than the deep forest. Late July to early August is the ideal season for wildcrafting.
 In the Verde Valley and Sedona, Glandularia found along trails and roads, growing in full sun. It bloom season is usually in the spring but it will occasionally have a second bloom in late fall if the summer rains have been abundant.

Energy & Tastes:

Very bitter – like many bitters, it has a sinking draining energy
Draining and drying

Verbena is specific for reducing tension in the Pitta person who has the classic Type A personality which is intense, driven and has difficulty turning off or slowing down.
Its cool – dry nature needs to be balanced for Vata to benefit
Its energy is not good for Kaphas and Kapha people are less likely to present a symptom picture that calls for Verbena.

Preferred Method of Preparation and Dosing:
Leaves and flowers are most commonly used in a fresh tincture.
The tea is very bitter and not usually used as compliance is difficult
Some traditions use the root although I have no experience with this.

Some people feel effects from lower doses.
Start at 3-5 drops per dose while 15-20 drops is considered a medium amount.

Herbal Actions:

Gentle nervine sedative
Relaxant to nervous and muscular tension
Relaxant diaphoretic
Relaxing emmenagogue

Therapeutic Uses:

Its primary use is a relaxant to many types of tension. This can be called Wind Tension or Constriction, depending on the herbal tradition.
Takes the edge off excess nervous stimulation that causes physical and emotional tension
Especially effective when used for digestive issues that are affected by stress, anxiety and tension

Use in a relaxant diaphoretic formula for fevers that don’t resolve due to heat being stuck in the core due to excess tension. Verbena’s relaxing energy allows the body to open up and ventilate itself.

A classic digestive bitter

Cooling and relaxing to livers that are energetically hot and tense. Balancing the energy allows the liver to function better.

Psychologically, Verbena is used for a driven, intense, goal-oriented person who needs to accomplish the goals at all costs. This person has tunnel vision, lacks flexibility or the ability to adapt to changing conditions. They get burned out from overwork and get irritated by anyone and anything that isn’t part of their goal. This tension often gets locked into the neck and shoulders and causes tension headaches.
Verbena helps this person relax, unwind and go with the flow more without losing their general motivation.
Ideally, Verbena helps this type of person be more balanced between rest and achievement.
The Bach Flower indications for Vervain is here.

Herbal Combos:
For headaches caused by tension in the neck and shoulders, especially if the tension is long term and there is no obvious cause such as poor posture:
use equal parts:

Verbena hastata, commonly cultivated

Bitter Relaxing Diaphoretic
Verbena 30%
Boneset 30%
Lemon Balm 15%
Peppermint 15%
Lobelia 10%
The tincture cpmbination can be added to water and drunk as a hot infusion

Nervine Tonic for Pitta
Equal parts:
Milky Oats

For Menopausal Hot Flashes caused by tension in the liver, use equal parts:
Black Cohosh
This does not address Kidney Yin Deficiency but it can still be effective.

For Stagnant Liver Chi causing PMS, use equal parts:
The nervines relax the liver, Mahonia energizes liver function and Ginger is a warming aromatic diffusive that balances a cooling formula.

Safety Issues & Contraindications:
Verbena can be emetic at higher doses. The amount varies by the individual and is rarely an issue at therapeutic doses. Some people report nausea at 30+ drops per dose.
Contraindicated in pregnancy due to its emmenagogue action


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