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April 14, 2021
Steven Horne, CI

A Remedy for Workaholics

All this tension and need to be busy can lead to problems associated with anxiety, including panic attacks and even obsessive-compulsive behaviors.

Vervain, like hops, passionflower, skullcap, and valerian, it’s a nervine and antispasmodic. It can help to relax muscles, reduce feelings of anxiety, and ease pain due to tension. But, if you know the personality traits, there are times when vervain is the clear remedy of choice. Looking at the uses for the Bach flower remedy will help make this clear.

Vervain Flower Essence

The vervain flower essence is indicated when a person is passionate about what they do in life to the point of fanaticism. They drive themselves with an intensity that comes across as overbearing to other people and tends to create nervous exhaustion or burnout in themselves.

Whenever I think of vervain, I think of when I worked for Dr. C. Samuel West at the International Academy of Lymphology. Dr. West was passionate about teaching people about trapped blood-proteins as the cause of all diseases. He was a pioneer teaching this process, which we now know as inflammation, the starting point in all disease processes.

When I think of vervain, I think of Dr. West because he was fanatical in his passion. When he was lecturing, he sounded more like an evangelical, Bible-thumping preacher than a health teacher. In fact, I remember him stirring up some people in his audience to the point that they’d say, “Amen!” He’d preach about his topic to anyone, often in situations where it was completely inappropriate, which made me want to slump down and become invisible. In those moments, despite being one of his assistants, I felt like pretending I didn't know him.

Dr. West had a great heart and truly wanted to help others and I will always be grateful for what I learned from him. However, Dr. West was also a perfect example of the person who needed the Bach flower remedy vervain; he was a stubborn, stiff-necked, overachiever, who was driven to promote a cause, sometimes to his own detriment. I think the vervain flower essence really would have helped him to become more balanced in life.

A Remedy for Tense Workaholics

Dorothy Hall says that someone who needs the herb vervain is a workaholic who feels the need to be constantly busy. They often have trouble sitting still—they tap their feet, rub something, play with things, scratch or pick at themselves, and otherwise fidget constantly. They also tend to be detail-oriented people who must plan carefully and cross things off their to-do lists.

She also claims that their inner need is to be appreciated. They want people to see them as responsible and dependable and long for someone to say, “Aren’t you wonderful!”

Vervain helps people like this learn how to use charisma to inspire others instead of coming across like a pushy used-car salesman. It helps them make their ideas less idealistic and more grounded, teaching them to exercise more moderation, tolerance, and balance in life.


From Emotional to Physical

In my many years working with people, I often see how a person’s personality affects their physical health. Understanding someone's mental and emotional characteristics can help you understand the cause of their physical health problems.

The hard-driving personality of the person who needs vervain causes them to hold a lot of tension in their neck and shoulders, the kind of tension where we’d say they’re “tied up in knots.” They’re like the spring in a wind-up toy that’s been wound up too much. Thus, vervain is a good remedy for tension in the neck and shoulders, which can cause tension headaches. It’s also helpful for whiplash.

All this tension and need to be busy can lead to problems associated with anxiety, including panic attacks and even obsessive-compulsive behaviors. Thomas Easley has observed that this tension can move into the chest, affecting the heart and circulation. The result is pulmonary hypertension, which he has seen reversed in a matter of weeks by using vervain.

Additional Uses for Vervain

Other conditions where vervain may be helpful include Bell’s palsy, Tourette syndrome, neuralgia, neuritis, and skin eruptions associated with nerves. It can also be helpful for type A PMS where there are tense and angry feelings before the beginning of a period. Kiva Rose says that it works “when you’re so irate and uptight you could dismember the nearest living creature.”

Vervain can also be a helpful remedy for acute illness. It has an action similar to lobelia, but milder. I use it as a substitute for lobelia in formulas where I want a relaxing effect but need a gentler action, such as a formula for children. Vervain can relax a spastic cough and aid perspiration to help sweat out acute viral diseases. Like lobelia, it can act as an emetic, but the doses required to achieve this effect are much higher. And like lobelia, vervain has also been considered a cure-all, something beneficial for a wide variety of health problems.

Vervain: Verbena officinalis from Adobe StockThere are two species used for medicine that are fairly interchangeable. The Bach flower remedy is made from the species Verbena officinalis (pictured left) and is commonly called vervain, while the other species, Verbena hastata, is commonly known as blue vervain (pictured in the two photos above).

If you, or someone you know, has the intensity of a vervain personality and suffers from tension, anxiety, or other related health problems, either species may be the perfect remedy.

Considering the actions of vanilla, I think it could be successfully used in any of the following formulas. First, it can definitely be combined with carminatives like peppermint, chamomile, anise and fennel to settle the stomach. Second, it could be blended with chamomile, kava kava, and other nervines to help relax the nerves. It might be a helpful addition to formulas for pain. Finally, it would definitely be worth experimenting using it with damiana for enhancing libido and lifting the mood

I’m not formulating anymore, so I make these suggestions to younger herbalists who are blending herbal remedies. I think blending herbs should be done a lot like cooking. You don’t create recipes just for nutritional value alone. You make food that’s also appealing to the senses. But, consider this, are these two factors mutually exclusive, or is a pleasing smell and flavor a signal that the food is also good for the body? I think herbal formulas that also taste and smell good are probably more balancing to the system than ones that have an unpleasant odor and taste. The unpleasantness of something is a signal that there is something discordant about the substance. The pleasant sensations tell us that there is greater balance and harmony in what we’re about to consume.

If any of you are up to the challenge, try using vanilla in your herbal formulas or to flavor herbs you’re giving to children (or even adults). If you come up with some nice blends using vanilla, let me know. Of course, don’t overlook the use of real vanilla and real vanilla bean in cooking. I’ve made a vanilla crème pie with real vanilla beans and it was simply amazing.