A prayer for picking vervain

All hail, thou holy herb, vervin,

Growing on the ground; On the Mount of Calvary

There wast thou found; Thou helpest many a grief,

And staunchest many a wound.

In the name of sweet Jesu,

I lift thee from the ground.

Vervain is such a delicate plant that it is easy to overlook, but its medicinal power is belied by its humble appearance. Tincturing it is always surprising, as a few skinny stalks of pale lilac or white flowers yield a strong, dark, almost black, brew.

Vervain has a rich past, both magical and medicinal, sacred and secular. It was an important herb to the Druids and Romans. Picking was always accompanied, until recent times, by a prayer.

Once used to treat madness and epilepsy, vervain is a powerful nerve restorative, and is particularly good for nervous exhaustion following periods of prolonged physical activity or stress. It is excellent in convalescence for the weakness that follows viral infections. Julie has used it to treat ME/ chronic fatigue syndrome.

Vervain is a good herb to have on hand for the stress and hurried pace of modern lifestyles. It is particularly suited to people who are strong-willed, enthusiastic, work too hard, and cannot relax. It is one of Edward Bach's 38 original flower remedies, a specific for this type of intensity.

The physicians of Myddfai, in Wales in the thirteenth century, recommended vervain for scrofula, a tubercular infection of the lymph glands in the neck. Later, the great English herbalists had an uneasy relationship with the plant, Gerard decrying it and Culpeper favoring it. Parkinson (1640) chose the positive side by recommending vervain for "generally all the inward paines and torments of the body."

Use vervain for...

Because vervain works on the nervous system, liver, kidneys, and digestion and also balances hormones, in addition to being a wound herb, it is still valid in an unusual array of conditions, and deserves to be more widely used.

A vulnerary treatment in classical Rome, the crushed or chewed fresh leaf can still be applied to cuts and scrapes to soothe and promote healing. It is effective where there is heat and irritation, so works well on bramble scratches, boils, and burns.

Vervain had a role in both love and war in Rome. It was aphrodisiac, being dedicated to Venus: a Roman bride would wear a sprig at her wedding. A verbenarius was a herald-at-arms who wore a chaplet of vervain as a flag of truce.

Coming to recent times, research in the United States confirms that vervain, along with self-heal, is a top herb for normalizing levels of thyroid hormones, being effective in both the underactive and overactive conditions. Vervain appears to affect the amount of TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) released by the pituitary gland.

So many Virtues are attributed by Authors, to this Plant, that it would tire one to reckon them up.

Spenser called it 'vein-healing verven'.

It had the old name of 'simper's joy'.

Drinking vervain tea very hot will make you sweat, which means it is a really effective treatment at the start of a cold or fever, when you are actively eliminating toxins. But it also relaxes and soothes, settling an upset digestion as well as a preoccupied, racing mind.

The Miracle Of Vinegar

The Miracle Of Vinegar

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