Vervine is found in many parts of the Americas and the Caribbean. It grows up to 1 metre high with dark green veined leaves and, bluish purple flowers, which grow on spikes.
In Jamaica vervine is used for nervous disorders, as an eye tonic and to clean wounds. Traditionally it is combined with sour sop and semi-contract to expel worms and other parasites. Vervine is also used for a variety of female sexual and reproductive health conditions.
In the Eastern Caribbean vervine is used for colds, fevers, and worms. The leaves can be applied to sores and wounds to cleanse and heal. In Africa vervine is used to treat gonorrhoea, eye trouble and heart conditions.
Vervine is used in South America for respiratory and gastric problems. It is also used to treat asthma, ulcers and chronic liver disorders.
Vervine roots are used in the Philippines to treat gonorrhoea and to cause abortions. The leaves are used for worms and as a poultice for sprains and wounds.
Modern Research & Uses
Recent research has confirmed active plant chemicals in vervine, which validate many of the traditional uses. Vervine has been shown to be effective in treating a variety of gastric disorders such as ulcers and diarrhoea. It is confirmed as having anti-inflammatory, anti-histamine and pain relieving activity. These effects support traditional use of vervine especially for inflammatory disorders,as well as menstrual problems. Research also confirms the use of vervine to treat respiratory problems such as bronchitis and asthma. Vervine can also be used as a mild sedative and diuretic.
A recent study in Nigeria demonstrated that water based extracts from vervine had varying effects on a range of bacteria and microbes. Alcohol based extracts had activity on fewer organisms. Another study in Spain reported significant anti-oxidant and immune stimulating activity in vervine. Various studies undertaken in Jamaica have confirmed vervine's effectiveness in treating intestinal parasites. Vervine extracts also showed marked effects on reducing blood pressure.
Among the plant chemicals in vervine are: flavonoids; terpenes; phenols; sterols; including: verbascoside (aka acetoside) scutellarein; hispidulin; stachytarphine; alphaspinasterol; dopamine and salicylic acid.
A decoction of the roots is used as an abortive so should not be used during pregnancy. Care should also be taken if using medication for hypertension and heart problems.