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Scientific Name(s): Verbena officinalis (L.) Wettst.
Common Name(s): Enchanter's plant, Erba croce, Erba dei tagli, Herb of grace, Herb of the cross, Juno's tears, Pigeon's grass, Pigeonweed, Prostrate verbena, Verbena, Vervain, Yerba de Santa Ana

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Feb 8, 2022.

Clinical Overview


Vervain has been used for many conditions, including stimulation of lactation and treatment of dysmenorrhea, jaundice, gout, kidney stones, and headache; however, there are few clinical trials of vervain or its components.


There is no clinical evidence to support specific dose recommendations for vervain. Traditional use for its astringent properties required 2 to 4 g daily in an infusion.


Contraindications have not been identified.


Documented adverse reactions. Avoid use.


None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Research reveals little or no information regarding adverse reactions with the use of this product.


No toxicology studies have been reported on vervain.

Scientific Family

  • Verbenaceae


Vervain is a slender perennial plant with small, pale lilac flowers borne on leafless spikes. It is indigenous to the Mediterranean region but has been widely cultivated throughout eastern Europe, North Africa, China, and Japan.(Lai 2006, USDA 2022)

A different species in the verbena family, Aloysia triphylla (lemon verbena or lemon beebrush), is used to produce the essential oil of verbena, also known as vervaine.(USDA 2022)


The name verbenae was originally used in ancient Roman times to describe all plants used on altars for their aromatic qualities. Legend has it that Jesus' wounds were attended to with vervain after his removal from the cross. Vervain is listed in the British Herbal Pharmacopoeia and The Pharmacopoeia of the People's Republic of China.(Calvo 2006, Lai 2006) The aerial parts have been used traditionally for many conditions, including stimulation of lactation and treatment of dysmenorrhea, jaundice, gout, kidney stones, headache, depression, anxiety, and insomnia.(Calvo 2006, Guarrera 2005, Owen 2001) Vervain is also considered an astringent, a bitter digestive tonic, and a diuretic.(Owen 2001) Traditionally it has been used in Spain as a topical hemostatic and antirheumatic, and it has been mixed with other herbs for thyroid dysfunction.(Lai 2006)


Vervian is a rich source of iridoids, phenylpropanoid glycosides, phenolic acids, flavonoids, terpenoids, and essential oil.(Kubica 2020) The most characteristic chemical constituents of vervain are the iridoid glycosides verbenalin(von Karrer 1946) and hastatoside.(Rimpler 1973) Also prominent is the caffeic acid glycoside verbascoside, which is found in a number of other medicinal plants.(Bianco 1984) Flavonoids, such as luteolin 7-diglucuronide have been isolated in vervain(Carnat 1995) as have ursolic acid, sterols, and several related triterpenes.(Calvo 2006, Deepak 1988) Other iridoid glycosides, sterols, as well as littorachalcone have also been found in related verbena species (Verbena litoralis and brasiliensis).(Li 2003, Li 2003, Ono 2006)

Uses and Pharmacology


Animal data

The differentiation of a human adenocarcinoma cell line was induced by verbascoside, reducing the malignant phenotype.(Li 1997) Verbascoside affected telomerase activity and telomere length, as well as inducing apoptosis in a gastric cancer cell line.(Zhang 2002) A further experiment found that verbascoside counteracted muscle fatigue in an isolated tissue preparation.(Liao 1999) In vitro proapoptotic activity of the essential oil and of the constituent citral has been described.(Liao 2009) In mice, anti-tumor effects have been demonstrated for a V. officinalis extract.(Kou 2013)


Animal data

Anticonvulsant, anxiolytic, and sedative properties of V. officinalis have been demonstrated in rodents.(Khan 2016) It was concluded that a V. officinalis aqueous extract at a dose of 200 mg/kg could have an antidepressant effect in adult rats.(Bekara 2020)

An aqueous extract of verbena prevented extracellular accumulation of beta-amyloid peptide, a factor considered to trigger neuronal death in Alzheimer disease. Decreased destruction of neurites and decreased neuronal apoptosis were also observed.(Lai 2006)

The anticonvulsant effects of the aerial parts of V. officinalis extracts in mice was demonstrated. These effects may be related to potentiating the GABAergic system.(Rashidian 2017)

Other uses

The anti-inflammatory activity of a vervain extract and several fractions in a carrageenan paw edema model was reported; however, specific triterpenes, iridoids, and phenolics isolated were not bioassayed to identify which were active.(Deepak 2000) Other reports have shown verbenalin to be active in blocking 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol acetate-induced mouse ear edema and carrageenan-induced paw edema.(Recio 2004) In comparison with piroxicam gel, a 3% preparation of 50% methanolic verbena extract produced better anti-inflammatory results, while the same preparation had less analgesic activity than methyl salicylate ointment.(Calvo 2006)

In the isolated rat heart, verbascoside increased heart rate, force, and coronary perfusion, with a marked increase in cyclic AMP levels.(Pennacchio 1996) A later study found an increase in prostacyclin levels, which may be responsible for the observed effects.(Pennacchio 1999)

The antioxidant effects of verbascoside have been demonstrated in several models, including free radical scavenging(Wang 1996) and pulse radiolysis methods.(Li 1996) Vervain essential oil was active in an antioxidant screen, although the oil was not expected to contain verbascoside.(Mantle 1998)

Modest antiviral activity against vesicular stomatitis virus, but not herpes simplex, at a high dose of verbascoside was observed.(Bermejo 2002) Antibiotic activity caused by an effect on protein synthesis and leucine incorporation was also found with verbascoside.(Avila 1999) Vervain flavonoids have been studied infrequently; however, a flavonoid fraction of vervain inhibited growth of several bacterial species at relatively high concentrations.(Hernandez 2000) Methanol extracts (80%) of the leaves from V. officinalis showed good in vitro antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, and Salmonella typhi.(Sisay 2019)

The efficacy of a verbena extract in reducing gingivitis was compared with placebo in a clinical trial (n=260), with reductions in plaque and gingival indices reported.(Grawish 2016)

One study demonstrated that 80% methanol root extracts of V. officinalis given to mice, produced promising antidiarrheal activity which supports the acclaimed traditional use of the plant material for treatment of diarrheal diseases.(Sisay 2019)


There is no recent clinical evidence to support specific dose recommendations for vervain. Traditional use for its astringent properties required 2 to 4 g daily in an infusion.(Gruenwald 2000)

Pregnancy / Lactation

Documented adverse reactions. Avoid use.(Newall 1996) Evidence-based toxic effects on the reproductive performance of pregnant female rats and dose-dependent risk potentials to the fetuses have been observed. Glycosylated flavonoids such as apigenin and luteolin could be responsible for reported prenatal developmental toxicity.(Fateh 2019)


In an in vitro model of an infant's GI system, infusions of vervain reduced the absorption of iron, especially at a high pH.(Zaida 2006)

Verbenone, a constituent of vervain, was demonstrated to be converted via CYP-450 2A6 to 10-hydroxyverbenone. It is unclear if the metabolite is active, inactive, or toxic.(Miyazawa 2003)

Adverse Reactions

Little or no information regarding adverse reactions with the use of vervain exists.


No human toxicology studies have been reported on vervain. However, an aqueous extract of V. officinalis has shown mutagenic effects against different strains of Salmonella, as demonstrated by the Ames test. However, no in vivo clastogenic and myelotoxic effect on the bone marrow micronucleus of rats was noted. This suggests that the benefits of using V. officinalis in traditional practice should outweigh risks.(Fateh 2019)

Index Terms

  • Aloysia triphylla
  • Lemon beebrush
  • Lemon verbena



This information relates to an herbal, vitamin, mineral or other dietary supplement. This product has not been reviewed by the FDA to determine whether it is safe or effective and is not subject to the quality standards and safety information collection standards that are applicable to most prescription drugs. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this product. This information does not endorse this product as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this product. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this product. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You should talk with your health care provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this product.

This product may adversely interact with certain health and medical conditions, other prescription and over-the-counter drugs, foods, or other dietary supplements. This product may be unsafe when used before surgery or other medical procedures. It is important to fully inform your doctor about the herbal, vitamins, mineral or any other supplements you are taking before any kind of surgery or medical procedure. With the exception of certain products that are generally recognized as safe in normal quantities, including use of folic acid and prenatal vitamins during pregnancy, this product has not been sufficiently studied to determine whether it is safe to use during pregnancy or nursing or by persons younger than 2 years of age.

More about vervain

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Bekara A, Amazouz A, Douma TB. Evaluating the antidepressant effect of Verbena officinalis L. (vervain) aqueous extract in adult rats. Basic Clin Neurosci. 2020;11(1):91-98. doi:10.32598/bcn.11.1.332483479
Bermejo P, Abad MJ, Diaz AM, et al. Antiviral activity of seven iridoids, three saikosaponins and one phenylpropanoid glycoside extracted from Bupleurum rigidum and Scrophularia scorodonia. Planta Med. 2002;68(2):106-110. doi:10.1055/s-2002-2023811859457
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