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Verbena officinalis


Verbena officinalis 


No documentation.

Vernacular Name

Attuch, Wild hyssop, Common verbena, Holy herb, Mosquito plant, Ironwort


Verbena officinalis is a small perennial that is harvested for medicinal use during the flowering phase. It grows up to five feet tall with branching on the upper half of the plant. These upper branches terminate in flowering spikes producing bluish flowers. Each flower produces red-brown fruits in early fall.

Origin / Habitat

Thought to be native to the Mediterranean, this herb is now found throughout the world and is cultivated in many gardens. V. officinalis is found growing in abundance in the wild all over Europe, North Africa and also in China and Japan. The herb is grown through seedlings during spring or in autumn and the plant flourishes in soil that does not allow water to stand and prefers a lot of sunlight.

Chemical Constituents

Iridoid glycosides (verbenalin, verbenin, hastatoside); Caffeic acid glycosides; Beta-sitosterol; Ursolic acid; Apigenin; Oleanolic acid; Citral [1][2][3][4][5].

Plant Part Used

Leaf, flowers, stems [7].

Root used as astringent [6].

Traditional Use

V. officinalis, though thought to have it originates in Europe, has established itself in some Eastern Central African traditional medicine systems. V. officinalis has been best incorporated into the medicinal systems of the people of Rwanda and Ethiopia, though its usage is certainly not limited to these areas.  According to a study, V. officinalis has been used by roughly 27% of medical practitioners in the Gondar region of Ethiopia [6].

One of the most common applications of V. officinalis in many traditional medical systems of Africa is as a stomachic or gastrointestinal aide. In cases of colic or general stomach debility, an extract made of the leaves is ingested [7]. In other cases, the roots are chewed and juices swallowed in order to relieve gastric pain [6]. In order to treat dysentery, some practitioners in Central Ethiopia have used the leaves of Attuch, macerated in water and then ingested. This practice was also used as a digestive aide in cases when raw meat is a significant part of the diet [8].

V. officinalis has also been commonly used externally for a variety of external applications. In the cases of general wounds and lacerations, the pulp of  V. officinalis root is applied directly to the affected area [7].In other cases, some involving suppurating dermatosis, the pulp of the leaves is applied directly [7]. V. officinalis has also been applied externally to snakebite, ophthalmia, and eczema [6].

V. officinalis has been thought to be useful in as a hemostat, cardiac tonic [6] and as a treatment for meningitis [7].



In an animal model, extracts of V. officinalis were obtained by several methods. Of these a carbon dioxide extraction provided the strongest anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory activities with lipophylic actives being the likely source of these properties. This same extract demonstrated wound healing properties [9].These anti-oxidant properties were also demonstrated using a methanol extract at 50% with caffeoyl as possessing radical scavenging properties [10]. Topical applications of V. officinalis extract have also demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties with results comparable to or better than piroxicam gel and moderate analgesic properties [11].

V. officinalis contains citral which has been found to induce apoptosis in tested hematopoietic cancer cell lines [12].


No documentation.

Interaction and Depletions

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation.

Interaction with Drugs

Lessens the effects of Warfarin [14].

Has an anticoagulant properties that may interfere with similar medications [15].

Precautions and Contraindications

Side effects

May cause allergic skin reactions in some individuals [13].


Not to be used by pregnant women. Not to be used by nursing women as a galactagogue unless under supervision of a healthcare professional.

Age limitation

Based on reports that V. officinalis tea may interfere with iron absorption, it should be avoided in children and those with compromised nutritional status [16][17].

Adverse reaction

No documentation.

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  1)  Western Herbs


  1. Rimpler H, Schafer B. Hastatoside, a new iridoid from Verbena officinalis and Verbena hastata (Verbenaceae). Tetrahedron Lett. 1973;17:1463-1464 .
  2. Wink M. Medicinal Plants of the World. Timber Press. 2004;337.
  3. Deepak M, Handa SS. Anti-inflammatory activity and chemical composition of extracts of Verbena officinalis. Phytother Res. Sept. 2000;14(6):463-465.
  4. Tian J, Zhao YM, Luan XH. Studies on the chemical constitutents in herb of Verbena officinalis. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. Feb. 2005;30(4):268-269.
  5. Liu CH, Liu Y. Determination of ursolic acid in herba of Verbena officinalis by HPLC. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. Dec. 2002;27(12):916-918.
  6. Abebe W. A Survey of Prescriptions Used in Traditional Medicine in Gonda Region, Northwest Ethiopia: General Pharamceutical Practice.  J Ethnopharmacol. 1986;18:147-165.
  7. Rwangabo PC.  La Médecine Traditionnelle du Rwanda. Paris, France: Karthala; 1993:39-40.
  8. Neuwinger HD. African Traditional Medicine: A Dictionary of Plant Use and Applications. Stuttgart, Germany: Medpharm Gmbh Scientific Publishers; 2000:338-339.
  9. Speroni E, Cervellati R, Costa S, Guerra MC, Utan A, Govoni P, Berger A, Müller A, Stuppner H. Effects of differential extraction of Verbena officinalis on rat models of inflammation, cicatrization and gastric damage. Planta Med. Mar. 2007;73(3):227-235.
  10. Casanova E, García-Mina JM, Calvo MI. Antioxidant and antifungal activity of Verbena officinalis L. leaves. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. Sep. 2008;63(3):93-97.
  11. Calvo MI. Anti-inflammatory and analgesic activity of the topical preparation of Verbena officinalis L. J Ethnopharmacol. Oct. 11, 2006;107(3):380-382.
  12. Dudai N, Weinstein Y, Krup M, Rabinski T, Ofir R.Citral is a new inducer of caspase-3 in tumor cell lines. Planta Med. May 2005;71(5):484-488.
  13. Del Pozo MD, Gastaminza G, Navarro JA, Munoz D, Fernandez E, Fernandez de Corres L.Allergic contact dermatitis from Verbena officinalis L. Con Derm. Sept. 1994;31(3):200-201.
  14. Taylor S. Advances in Food and Nutrition Research: Vol. 50. Amsterdam: Elsevier Science and Technology Publishing; 2005:282
  15. Argento A, Tiraferri E, Marzaloni M. Oral anticoagulants and medicinal plants. An emerging interaction. Ann Ital Med Int. Apr. 2000;15(2):139-143.
  16. Hurrell RF, Reddy M, Cook JD. Inhibition of non-haem iron absorption in man by polyphenolic-containing beverages. Br J Nutr. Apr. 1999;81(4):289-295.
  17. Zaida F, Bureau F, Guyot S, Sedki A, Lekouch N, Arhan P, Bouglé D. Iron availability and consumption of tea, vervain and mint during weaning in Morocco. Ann Nutr Metab. 2006;50(3):237-241.

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