Sunday, February 18, 2007

Herb of the Week:Verbena spp.


Name: Vervain, Verbena spp

Actions:

Astringent

Diaphoretic

Antispasmodic

Relaxant

sedative

expectorant

Stimulant

Tonic

Emetic

Galactagouge.

Warm, dry (Sauer) Cold, dry (bergner)

Tissues: musculoskeletal, nervous, mucous membrane, capillaries, skin, secretory

Uses: intermittent fever, colds and obstructed menstruation, convalescence from acute disease. Scrofula, gravel, worms, bruises. Relaxing stimulating nervine, soothes the nervous system. Nervous system disorders, PMS, epilepsy, anxiety, depression and stress related problems(High BP,insomnia, migraine) Digestive bitter useful for Liver and gall stagnation/obstruction and biliousness. Liver congestion(stuck chi?)Resembles boneset in action but more stimulating. Emetic and laxative. Useful in fever and colds, febrifuge. Galactagouge- good for stressed out mamas having trouble relaxing enough to nurse. Mastitis

Personal Experiences: Vervain is distinctly relaxing to me, especially in the area of my shoulders. When I take it as a tincture I can feel my shoulders relax and drop. It also seems to strengthen and slow my pulse. It definitely strengthens it significantly. The tea is bitter, and stimulated quite a bit of saliva output, and I felt hungry most of the day while I was drinking the tea, indicating that it was a digestive bitter that stimulated my appetite. I also particularly noted the effect on my mood/nervous system. I was a bit PMS cranky this week and taking it seemed to really take the edge off of my nervous, irritable tension.

I also tried to compare the tincture of the fresh desert verbena that I have at home with the tincture of vervain from school. Different species of the plant. The fresh verbena tincture of desert verbena seemed more bitter (as was the tea I made of that plant.) than the verbena hastata (so I suppose) that the school tincture was made from. I notice a stronger effect from the fresh plant tincture I made as well, though I’m not terribly surprised, fresh plant tinctures always seem to be more active in my experience.

I’m getting mixed information on weather this is cool or warm. It feels warm to me…but perhaps it’s like yarrow in that it has both warming and cooling properties.

My experience vs. traditional sources: I think my experience fits well with that of the literature. It feels very strong on my nervous system and digestive system in particular, so would be inclined to use it that way most often. One of the first ways I learned to use this plant was for a nervous stomach. When I get nervous, my digestive system goes wonky, and I’ve used verbena a lot for that. I’ve also particularly noted its positive effect on nursing moms. It’s never worked that well for insomnia for me, unless in combination with some other things, my most oft used combination for insomnia was verbena, California poppy and passionflower. I’m not settled on its temperature, and it seems that neither are all the sources saying the same thing. It feels warm to me, even though it is a mild bitter, which should imply cold. One thing to note is that I’m primarily using a species of verbena from the desert southwest, which might have slightly different energetics due to environmental conditions. I’ve in particular noted it being much more bitter.

Taking verbena with peony (tinctures) is definitely more cooling. I still get the strong relaxation in the shoulders, and my pulse still slows and strengthens. The sweetness of the peony moderates the bitter verbena, is less active on my digestive system, feel it moving downward.

I took verbena with avena tincture, and think it would be a marvelous pair for long term use, the immediate effects were slight, perhaps slightly more nourishing and moistening. I also slept very well and restfully.

Verbena with Damiana(tincture) is distinctly warming, my cheeks felt flushed after taking it. Guess that means the energy is moving upward/outward. It didn’t feel quite as relaxing to me, slightly more stimulating/activating. A better choice for stress relief during the day than at night when a more relaxing combination (skullcap or poppy) would do better.

3 comments:

Kiva Rose said...

I love Vervain/Peony in combination, so wonderful PMS cramps, tension and moodiness.

One of the first formulas I ever made was a little mix I called Sweet Dreams of 1 Part Vervain, 1 Part Skullcap and 1/2 Part Valerian, and it always seemed to work very well for a wide variety of people, though with my current understanding of energetics, I no longer consider it ideal. I do still love Skullcap and Vervain together for general insomnia though, very supportive and relaxing.

Have you tried it with Peach twig? Wow! It'll knock you out...

Shamana Flora said...

no i've not played with peach twig yet. I haven't crossed many peach trees in my days of the desert...

:)
Vervain and peony...ahh that sounds lovely!

Kiva Rose said...

Well, you'd be surprised where those Peach trees get themselves to. There's one right down the road from us, it's kind of shocking really...

I'll send you some if you like (tincture that is, not a peach tree ;)

"The mother of us all, the oldest of us all, Hard, splendid as rock, Let the beauty you love, be what you do. There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the earth"~ Rumi ~