January 28th, 2019
Vervain. Verbena hastata. One plant that I hold dear to my heart and use quite often in practice. The first time I ever saw vervain was in the Sierra Nevadas here in California. Abundant in a big open field where logging had once occurred, she sprawled out where the sun beat down on her and she blew gently in the wind. My mentor was with me at the time, and whispered, “see that vervain in the wind? There is your clue.”
When the body becomes overactive and in a hypervigilant state, our organs, adrenals and muscles are burdened by the result. Our fight or flight response drains us, and can make us feel depressed, fatigue, or have bouts of insomnia. Vervain is here to help. Vervain is commonly used as a nervine, anxiolytic and antispasmodic. She helps calm mind chatter, relax the shoulders, induce healthy sleep patters, and soften the nervous system. Acting also as a bitter, vervain can help ease digestion, and has a cooling effect on the liver. When bad dreams or night terrors occur, vervain can help fight off feelings of uncertainty and help you gently lay back down to rest.
Vervain is traditionally gathered in midsummer, when neither sun nor moon is out. Maia Toll wrote beautifully, “Vervain whispers of enchantment and worlds not quite seen. She’ll teach you to see beyond the ordinary and help you explore the liminal lands of the psyche. Through her easy access to the in-between, she can call in the medicine of plants not present, making her a must for any healer’s garden. Ask vervain to channel her sisters and hold their place in a tea blend or incense. But remember, even though she is wispy, vervain is powerful: a sip of her tea is magical, a cup nauseating. Why? Because too much oysters puts us off balance; think of it as motion sickness of the soul. So let vervain dance lightly on the edges of your consciousness, reminding you of the infinite possibilities that unfold when you let magic in.”
In a clinical setting, for a sleep formula, I often pair vervain with california poppy or passionflower, then adding a little fennel for a warming carminative to offset the cooling bitter affect. For anti anxiety formulas, paring vervain with motherwort, pasque flower and a little tulsi, all for a grounding, calming and energetic holding effect.
New to using vervain? Sit with her, explore her taste, her essence, and be with her in all the forms: tea, tincture, smudge, and flower essence. Use her daily and see what she brings up in you.
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