Verbena (Verbena officinalis)

While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.

Related Terms

  • 9-OHSA, acteoside, acetylacteoside, adenosine, apigenin, beta-carotene, beta-myrcene, beta-sitosterol, brasoside, chrysoeriol, citral, Cleopatra, daucosterol, dihydrochalcone, dihydroverbenalin, epioleanolic acid, epiursolic acid, flavonoids, gelsemiol, hastatoside, hydroxywogonin, iridoid glucosides, iridoids, isoverbascoside, jionoside, littorachalcone, littoralisone, luteolin, martynoside, methoxyflavone glycosides, neohesperidoside, oleanolic acid, phenylethanoid glycosides, phenylethanoids, phenylpropanoid glycoside, pulchelloside, saponins, stigmastene, trihydroxyflavone, triterpenoids, ursolic acid, verbenachalcone, verbascoside, verbascoside-phenylethanoids, Verbena bipinnatifida, Verbena bonariensis, Verbena elegans, Verbena hybrida spp., Verbena littoralis, Verbena officinalis, Verbena stricta, Verbena triphylla, Verbenaceae (family), verbenalin, verbenin, verbenone, vervain, vitamin K.

  • Note: This monograph does not include lemon verbena (Aloysia triphylla).

Background

  • Verbena (Verbena officinalis) is a perennial herb native to Europe. Verbena was considered a sacred plant in northern Europe and is said to have been included in love potions. It has been used traditionally in Italian folk medicine for rheumatic pain and wounds and in Ayurvedic medicine as a contraceptive. Verbena is said to be a medicinal plant in Argentina and Paraguay.

  • Preliminary research suggests potential antioxidant, neurological, and endocrine actions of verbena. However, there is currently insufficient scientific evidence available to support the use of verbena for any condition in humans.

Scientific Evidence

Uses

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

No available studies qualify for inclusion in the evidence table.

*Key to grades:

Tradition

The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.

  • Antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, cancer, constipation, contraceptive (female), dysentery (bacillary), estrogenic agent, food flavoring (spice), fragrance (cosmetics, household products, perfume), high blood pressure, kidney stones, liver metabolic function, neurodegeneration (nerve degeneration), rheumatic pain, wounds.

Dosing

The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

Adults (18 years and older)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for verbena in adults.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for verbena in children.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid with known allergy or sensitivity to Verbena officinalis, its constituents, or members of the Verbenaceae family. Allergic contact dermatitis and anaphylactic allergic response have been reported.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Verbena may interfere with the way the body processes certain drugs, herbs or supplements using the liver’s cytochrome P450 enzyme system. As a result, the levels of these drugs may be changed in the blood and may cause increased or decreased effects or potentially serious adverse reactions. Patients using any medications should check the package insert and speak with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, about possible interactions.

  • Verbena may alter the risk of bleeding, as it contains vitamin K and thus may reduce the effectiveness of oral anticoagulant therapy. Caution is advised in patients with bleeding disorders or those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that may alter the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.

  • Verbena may cause changes in blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood pressure.

  • Use cautiously in patients with compromised liver function.

  • Use cautiously in patients with cancer who may be taking anticancer agents.

  • Use cautiously in patients taking agents to prevent kidney stone formation.

  • Use cautiously in patients taking drugs or supplements by mouth.

  • Use cautiously in patients with iron deficiency disorders.

  • Use cautiously in patients with estrogen- or progesterone-sensitive disorders.

  • Use cautiously in patients with hyperactive digestive disorders or those taking agents that affect the digestive tract.

  • Use cautiously in patients with nerve disorders.

  • Avoid in patients trying to become pregnant or taking fertility agents.

  • Avoid with known allergy or sensitivity to Verbena officinalis, its constituents, or members of the Verbenaceae family. Allergic contact dermatitis and anaphylactic allergic response have been reported.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • There is a lack of available research evaluating the safety and efficacy of verbena in pregnant or breastfeeding women. Verbena has been used traditionally in Ayurvedic medicine as a form of birth control. Verbena may have estrogen- or progesterone-like effects and may injure the fetus.

Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

Interactions with Drugs

  • Verbena may alter the risk of bleeding, as it contains vitamin K, which is needed for blood clotting. Verbena may reduce the effectiveness of oral anticoagulant therapy. Verbena may change the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants (blood thinners) such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, antiplatelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).

  • Verbena may cause changes in blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking drugs that affect blood pressure.

  • Verbena may interfere with the way the body processes certain drugs using the liver’s cytochrome P450 enzyme system. As a result, the levels of these drugs may be changed in the blood and may cause increased or decreased effects or potentially serious adverse reactions. Patients using any medications should check the package insert and speak with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, about possible interactions.

  • Because verbena contains estrogen-like chemicals, the effects of other agents believed to have estrogen-like properties may be altered.

  • Verbena may also interact with antibiotics, anticancer drugs, anti-inflammatory agents, antioxidants, drugs taken by mouth, drugs to prevent kidney stones, fertility agents, gastrointestinal agents (prokinetic), iron, neurological blocking agents, or progestins.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Verbena may change the risk of bleeding, when taken with other agents that are believed to alter the risk of bleeding, as it contains vitamin K, which is needed for blood clotting. Multiple cases of bleeding have been reported with the use of Ginkgo biloba, and fewer cases with garlic and saw palmetto. Numerous other agents may theoretically alter the risk of bleeding, although this has not been proven in most cases.

  • Verbena may cause changes in blood pressure. Caution is advised in patients taking herbs or supplements that affect blood pressure.

  • Verbena may interfere with the way the body processes certain herbs or supplements using the liver’s cytochrome P450 enzyme system. As a result, the levels of other herbs or supplements may become too high or too low in the blood. It may also alter the effects that other herbs or supplements possibly have on the cytochrome P450 system.

  • Because verbena contains estrogen-like chemicals, the effects of other agents believed to have estrogen-like properties may be altered.

  • Verbena may also interact with antibacterials, anticancer agents, anti-inflammatories, antioxidants, fertility herbs and supplements, gastrointestinal herbs and supplements, herbs and supplements taken by mouth, herbs and supplements to prevent kidney stones, iron, neurological blocking herbs and supplements, or phytoprogestins.

Author Information

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

  1. Castro-Gamboa I, Castro O. Iridoids from the aerial parts of Verbena littoralis (Verbenaceae). Phytochemistry 2004;65(16):2369-2372. View Abstract
  2. Deepak M, Handa SS. Antiinflammatory activity and chemical composition of extracts of Verbena officinalis. Phytother Res 2000;14(6):463-465. View Abstract
  3. De Oliveira AC, Ribeiro-Pinto LF, Otto SS, et al. Induction of liver monooxygenases by beta-myrcene. Toxicology 1997;124(2):135-140. View Abstract
  4. De Oliveira AC, Ribeiro-Pinto LF, Paumgartten JR. In vitro inhibition of CYP2B1 monooxygenase by beta-myrcene and other monoterpenoid compounds. Toxicol Lett 1997;92(1):39-46. View Abstract
  5. Dudai N, Weinstein Y, Krup M, et al. Citral is a new inducer of caspase-3 in tumor cell lines. Planta Med 2005;71(5):484-488. View Abstract
  6. Guarrera PM, Forti G, Marignoli S. Ethnobotanical and ethnomedicinal uses of plants in the district of Acquapendente (Latium, Central Italy). J Ethnopharmacol 2005;96(3):429-444. View Abstract
  7. Hernandez NE, Tereschuk ML, Abdala LR. Antimicrobial activity of flavonoids in medicinal plants from Tafi del Valle (Tucuman, Argentina). J Ethnopharmacol 2000;73(1-2):317-322. View Abstract
  8. Li Y, Ishibashi M, Chen X, et al. Littorachalcone, a new enhancer of NGF-mediated neurite outgrowth, from Verbena littoralis. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo) 2003;51(7):872-874. View Abstract
  9. Li Y, Ishibashi M, Satake M, et al. Sterol and triterpenoid constituents of Verbena littoralis with NGF-potentiating activity. J Nat Prod 2003;66(5):696-698. View Abstract
  10. Li YS, Matsunaga K, Kato R, et al. Verbenachalcone, a novel dimeric dihydrochalcone with potentiating activity on nerve growth factor-action from Verbena littoralis. J Nat Prod 2001;64(6):806-808. View Abstract
  11. Li YS, Matsunaga K, Kato R, et al. Potentiation of nerve growth factor-induced elongation of neurites by gelsemiol and 9-hydroxysemperoside aglucone in PC12D cells. J Pharm Pharmacol 2001;53(6):915-919. View Abstract
  12. Prakash AO. [Biological evaluation of some medicinal plant extracts for contraceptive efficacy in females]. Contracept Fertil Sex (Paris) 1985;13(4):649-655. View Abstract
  13. Speroni E, Cervellati R, Costa S, et al. Effects of differential extraction of Verbena officinalis on rat models of inflammation, cicatrization and gastric damage. Planta Med 2007 ;73(3):227-35. View Abstract
  14. Wolffenbutte LE. [Verbena in therapy of bacillary dysentery.]. Rev Bras Med 1956;13(3):231-232. View Abstract
  15. Zava DT, Dollbaum CM, Blen M. Estrogen and progestin bioactivity of foods, herbs, and spices. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med 1998;217(3):369-378. View Abstract

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.