Fighting Burnout With Blue Vervain
Blue vervain, Latin name Verbena hastata, is an herbaceous perennial herb native to North America. While scientific journals have only recently begun to explore the properties of this herb, blue vervain is well established in the canon of Indigenous North American herbal medicine–the Dakota name for this herb translates to “medicine,” while the Omaha and Ponca name means “herb medicine.” Common names for Verbena hastata include American blue vervain, swamp vervain, swamp verbena, blue verbena, Simpler’s joy, and American vervain.
A hardy plant with long, green leaves and bunches of small, blue and violet flowers, this herb could just as easily be overlooked in a meadow of wildflowers. However, you’d be much amiss to overlook this powerful piece of medicine. From symptoms of stress to hormonal difficulties and common infections, blue vervain has been a trusted treatment used by herbalists for centuries. Let’s look deeper into its uses and applications, particularly in tackling two prevalent problems of the present day: anxiety and burnout.
Related to: Are You Stuck in a Burnout Cycle?
The Benefits of Blue Vervain
If we begin by listing all of the traditional uses of blue vervain, we’ll end up with a CVS receipt-length collection of maladies to be cured: Native people living in what is present-day Kentucky historically used Verbena hastata “as a diaphoretic in treating colds, intermittent fevers, and obstinate menstruation.” Other traditional uses in this area include to “expel worms, to increase circulation, and to treat epilepsy, stones and gravel… expelling mucus from the respiratory tract, as an astringent, and in promoting the healing of open wounds.” That’s not all! It is also known to address bowel complaints, dysentery, and stomach cramps.
Consuming Blue Vervain
Before you go running into a field to pick and consume this cure-all by the bundle, it’s important to note that blue vervain is a powerful medicine. Like many herbs (and “conventional” medicine as well!), a larger dose does not equal better effects.
While it’s totally safe to consume, herbalists recommend consuming this herb in a well-informed manner. While it’s used as a uterine tonic this can make it problematic for people undergoing hormone therapy or experiencing pregnancy.
And while its frequently used for digestive support, large doses can result in the opposite effect, with side effects including stomach cramps and diarrhea. This is why it’s advisable to use herbalist or expert-formulated tonics when engaging with herbal support.
That being said, the main modes of ingesting blue vervain are:
Using topical treatment, such as an ointment, is better for superficial lesions and pains. Blue vervain is often consumed in the form of an herbal tea–however, be advised that it has a very bitter flavor in the form. Tinctures such as our own that contain blue vervain use the concentrated extract of the plant to derive its beneficial compounds without the full intensity of the astringent herb’s taste.
Tackling Anxiety and Burnout
Narrowing into ways that this herb can address the cycle of anxiety and burnout that much too many of us find ourselves trapped in these days. The World Health Organization characterizes burnout as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” While the manifestations of anxiety and burnout are manifold, herbalists indicate that blue vervain is especially helpful for supporting us through the psychosomatic response of feeling overwhelmed.
While blue vervain is an herb applicable to all bodies, it offers special benefits for those of us with menstrual cycles. The relationship between mood, anxiety, circadian rhythms, and hormones is complex, with the out-of-whack homeostasis of one cycle having a cascading effect on all others. Is that headache you have due to burnout from work and life stressors, or is it a hormonal headache?
Herbalists use blue vervain as a hormonal regulator for imbalances and use it specifically in cases of treating period headaches and menstrual migraines.
Recent in vivo trials using Verbena hastata extract further bolster its longtime use to support the digestive system. Long-term stress and burnout are known to cause serious digestive problems including IBS and stomach ulcers. In a 2012 study done with rats, it was found that blue vervain leaf extract possesses “potent ulcer protective properties.”
Scientists, contemporary herbalists, and historical practitioners have revealed that blue vervain can be of robust support when dealing with the causes and symptoms of burnout, including emotional distress, hormonal imbalances, and digestive problems. Next time you are feeling overwhelmed, take a moment to sit back, relax, and take in a bit of blue vervain.
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Herb Rally (n.d.). Blue vervain, berbena hastata. Herbrally.com. https://www.herbrally.com/monographs/blue-vervain
Bolyard, J. (1978). Selected Herbal Remedies Of Southeastern Kentucky. Appalachian Heritage 6(4), 58-63. doi:10.1353/aph.1978.0000.
World Organization Health (2019, May 28). Burn-out an "occupational phenomenon": International Classification of Diseases. Https://www.who.int/. https://www.who.int/news/item/28-05-2019-burn-out-an-occupational-phenomenon-international-classification-of-diseases