Gervao is traditioanlly used as a antihistamine, bronchodilator, anti inflammatory,antacid and as an antiparsiticGERVAO

Family: Verbenaceae

Genus: Stachytarpheta

Species: cayennensis, jamaicensis

Synonyms: Stachytarpheta urticifolia Sims, Verbena cayennensis, Verbena jamaicensis

Common Names: Gervâo, Brazilian tea, verbena cimarrona, bastard vervain, blue verbena , wild verbena, blue flower, rooster comb, jarbao, rat tail, vervain, verveine, blue vervain, verveine a queue de rat, blue porterweed, gewongan, rumput tahi babi, selaseh dandi (spotted basil)

Price: £22.50 – 1lb / 454 gm Bag [wp_eStore_add_to_cart id=92]

Part Used: Whole plant, leaf

From The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs:

Main Actions Other Actions Standard Dosage
  • reduces histamine
  • relieves pain
  • supresses coughs
  • increases urination
Infusion: 1/2 cup twice daily
  • relieves spasms
  • promotes menstruation
Tincture: 2-3 ml twice daily
  • reduces acid
  • reduces fever
Capsules: 1-2 g twice daily
  • prevents ulcers
  • lowers blood pressure
  • stimulates digestion
  • increases milk flow
  • protects gastric tract
  • mildly laxative
  • reduces inflammation
  • sedates
  • expels worms
  • promotes sweating
  • protects liver
  • heals wounds
  • dilates blood vessels
  • kills larva

Gervâo is a weedy annual (and sometimes perennial) herbaceous plant that grows 60–120 cm tall. It bears small reddish-purple to deep blue flowers that grow along tall bracts that are favored by butterflies. It is indigenous to most parts of tropical America and, although some consider it a semi-invasive weed, it is sometimes cultivated as an ornamental plant for its blue flowers and deeply-serrated, dark green leaves. Gervâo belongs to the large Verbenaceae family, which comprises about 100 genera and 2,600 species (including the common vervain and verbena plants). It is often referred to as “bastard vervain” or “wild verbena.” While very similar to verbena and vervain in appearance and growth habits, gervâo is a different species of plant. Two very similar species of Stachytarpheta grow in the tropics and are used interchangeably (and share the same common names) in many countries’ herbal medicine systems—S. cayennensis and S. jamaicensis.


Gervâo is widely used by indigenous peoples throughout the Amazon. The Créoles use the leaf tea for dysentery, while the Kofans in northwest Amazonia drink a decoction of the plant to relieve stomach pains. Indigenous peoples of Peru use the plant for diabetes and the Wayãpi and Palikur Indians in Guyana use the plant in baths to relieve colds and headaches. Other tribes in the Amazon prepare an infusion or decoction of the plant to take internally for fevers (including yellow fever), allergies, stomach problems, and intestinal parasites.

In Brazilian herbal medicine systems the plant is considered to stimulate and aid digestion, suppress coughs, reduce fever, expel worms, increase perspiration, and promote menstruation. The natural remedy there is usually an infusion prepared with the leaves or entire aerial parts. It is employed mainly today by Brazilian herbalists and practitioners as a stomach tonic; to stimulate the function of the gastrointestinal tract; for dyspepsia, allergies, asthma, and fevers; and for chronic liver problems. Gervâo is also used in Brazil as a diuretic for various urinary complaints and as a mild laxative for constipation. Externally it is used to clean ulcers, cuts, and wounds. In Cuban herbal medicine (where the plant is named verbena cimarrona) the plant is considered to be abortive, laxative, diuretic, and sedative and used to reduce spasms, depress the central nervous system, promote menstruation, aid milk production, and reduce blood pressure.

In the West Indies, gervâo commonly is employed to expel intestinal worms and other parasites; several commercial preparations sold in Jamaica for parasites contain gervâo. One popular preparation combines gervâo with graviola (Annona muricata) and epazote (Chenopodium ambrosioides) into a natural remedy for this purpose (both plants are featured in this book). Besides its long history of use as a parasite remedy (which was documented as early as 1898), gervâo also has been used by women in Jamaica and the West Indies for many types of menstrual disorders and female complaints. In many parts of the West Indies, a leaf tea is drunk after childbirth to restore health and to increase the supply of mother’s milk. In Belize, a tea brewed from the aerial parts of the plant is taken for nervousness, heart conditions, stomachache, dyspepsia, neuralgia, cough, colds, fever, flu, and liver complaints. There the mashed leaves are also used in a poultice for boils and infected sores, and the leaf juice is taken internally for intestinal parasites.


Gervâo contains flavonoids, terpenes, phenols, and steroids. Several of these plant chemicals have been documented with biological activities that may help explain the plant’s indigenous uses (especially for liver ailments and respiratory problems). The first of these is an iridoid glycoside called verbascoside (also called acetoside), found in several plants in the Verbenaceae genus. In clinical research, this powerful antioxidant phytochemical has been documented with neuroprotective, antiviral, antibacterial, liver protective, cardioactive, and antitumorous effects. A flavonoid in gervâo called scutellarein has been documented with cardioprotective, anti-inflammatory and antiviral actions. Another flavonoid found in gervâo called hispidulin is also found in verbena and vervain and is considered one of the main “active” chemicals in all three plants. Hispidulin has been reported to have anti-asthmatic, bronchodilator, and antispasmodic properties; liver detoxifing actions; and helps to normalize sticky blood.

The main plant chemicals in gervâo include: apigenol-7-glucuronide, alpha-spinasterol, gamma-amino butyric acid, chlorogenic acid, citral, dopamine, friedelin, geraniol, hentriacontane, hispidulin, ipolamiide, luteolol-7-glucuronide, n-dotriacontane, n-nonacosane, n-pentriacontane, n-tetratriancontane, n-triacontane, n-tritriacontane, salicylic-acid, scutellarein, stachytarphine, stigmasterol, tarphetalin, ursolic acid, and verbascoside.


The first biological activity studies were published on gervâo in 1962 by researchers in India who reported that the plant demonstrated antispasmodic and vasodilator activities in several small animal studies. In 1990, two clinical studies reported that leaf extracts evidenced larvicidal effects, which might help explain its long history of use for intestinal parasites. In 1998, the anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties of gervâo were demonstrated in rats. In this study, researchers pre-treated rats with gervâo and showed that it inhibited significantly their ability to induce inflammation with chemical agents. They isolated two chemicals in the plant (vebascoside and another iridoid chemical, ipolamiide) and tested them individually for these effects. These chemicals demonstrated a marked anti-inflammatory effect in rats (administered 4 hours after chemically inducing inflammation) of 94% and 70%, respectively. They attributed this effect, in part, to the extract (and its phytochemicals) which inhibited a histamine reaction.

Another area of research has verified gervâo’s longstanding use for gastric and intestinal disorders. In a 1995 Brazilian study, a gervâo extract demonstrated anti-diarrhea effects in rats. Another (1997) Brazilian study demonstrated antacid, antiulcer, and laxative effects in mice. In this study, a water extract of the whole plant increased intestinal motility, protected against ulcers from various chemical agents, and inhibited gastric secretion. These researchers noted the same histamine-blocking properties in this ulcer model that was observed in the anti-inflammatory model, along with another possible pathway of action. They concluded that “whatever the mechanisms involved, the present data confirm the plant’s effectiveness as antacid/antiulcer and laxative.” In the mouse and rat studies performed thus far, no toxicity was noted when the plant was taken orally (at up to 2 g per kg of body weight).

In the mouse and rat studies noted above, no toxicity was noted when the plant was taken orally (at up to 2 g per kg of body weight). In herbal medicine today, gervâo is regarded as a safe, natural remedy when prepared in decoctions and infusions (taken orally or applied externally). A researcher in Panama, however (who injected mice intraperitoneally with varying dosages of a leaf extract) reported toxic effects and even death at the highest dosages.


In herbal medicine today, gervâo is regarded as a safe, natural remedy when prepared in decoctions and infusions (taken orally or applied externally). A researcher in Panama, however (who injected mice with varying dosages of a leaf extract) reported toxic effects and even death at the highest dosages. While gervâo is a well known and popular natural herbal remedy in South America for digestion and liver problems, colds, flu, asthma, and as a natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory, practitioners in North America are just beginning to learn about its many uses. With its many applications, gervâo is sure to increase in popularity as more people learn of it many effective uses.

Gervâo Plant Summary
Main Preparation Method: infusionMain Actions (in order):
antihistamine, bronchodilator, anti-inflammatory, antacid, antiparasitic Main Uses: 

  1. for allergies and respiratory conditions (cold, flu, asthma, bronchitis, etc)
  2. for digestive problems (indigestion, acid reflux, ulcers, constipation, dyspepsia, slow digestion)
  3. as a general pain-reliever and anti-inflammatory for various internal/external painful inflammatory disorders
  4. to tone, balance, strengthen, protect and detoxify the liver (and as a liver bile stimulant and for chronic liver conditions)
  5. for intestinal worms and internal/external parasites

Properties/Actions Documented by Research:
analgesic (pain-reliever), antacid, anti-anaphylactic (reduces allergic reactions), antidysenteric, antihistamine, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antispasmodic, antiulcerous, bronchodilator, gastrototonic (tones, balances, strengthens the gastric tract), hepatoprotective (liver protector), larvicidal, laxative, neurasthenic (reduces nerve pain), vasodilatorOther Properties/Actions Documented by Traditional Use:
abortive, amebicide, antiparasitic, antitumorous, bile stimulant (liver), blood cleanser, cough suppressant, central nervous system depressant, decongestant, diaphoretic (promotes sweating), digestive stimulant, diuretic, expectorant, febrifuge (reduces fever), gastroprotective (to protect the gastric tract), hepatotonic (tones, balances, strengthens the liver), hypotensive (lowers blood pressure), lactagogue (promotes milk flow), menstrual stimulant, nervine (balances/calms nerves), refrigerant (lowers body temperature), sedative, tonic (tones, balances, strengthens overall body functions), vermifuge (expels worms), wound healer

Cautions: Avoid use when pregnant, if allergic to aspirin or have a heart condition.







Traditional Preparation: One-half cup of a whole herb infusion is taken one to two times daily or 1–3 ml of a 4:1 tincture is taken twice daily. If desired, 1–2 g powdered herb in tablets, capsules, or stirred into juice or water daily may be substituted.


Gervâo has been used in herbal medicine as an abortive agent and, therefore, is probably contraindicated during pregnancy.

Gervâo has been documented with vasodilator properties in a animal study and, therefore, may lower blood pressure. Those with low blood pressure or those on antihypertensive medications should consult their doctor before using gervâo.

Stachytarpheta cayennensis (but not S. jamaicensis) has been reported to contain a small amount of naturally-occurring salicylic acid. This phytochemical is the natural precursor to aspirin. Those allergic to aspirin should probably avoid using this plant product.

Drug Interactions: None reported, however the plant might potentiate heart and blood pressure medications.

Amazonia for asthma, fever, stomach pain
Bahamas for abortions asthma, bronchitis, chest colds, childbirth, itch, skin problems, sores, worms
Belize for boils, colds, cough, fever, flu, heart problems, intestinal parasites, liver disorders, nervousness, neuralgia, sores, stomachache
Brazil for acid reflux, allergies, amebic infections, arthritis, bile insufficiency, bronchitis, bronchial phlegm, chest pains, colds, constipation, contusions, cough, cuts, debilitation, diarrhea, digestive problems, dysentery, dyspepsia, eczema, edema, erysipelas, fever, flu, gastritis, gastrointestinal disorders, hemorrhoids, hepatitis, high blood pressure, hoarseness, intestinal parasites, liver disorders, liver support, lung problems, menstrual disorders, rheumatism, skin problems, sores, stomachache, syphilis, tumors, ulcers, urinary complaints, venereal disease, water retention, worms, wounds, yellow fever, and to increase perspiration
Cuba for abortions, constipation, depressing the central nervous system, diabetes, excessive mucous, fevers, hypertension, lactation aid, menstrual problems, spasms, urinary insufficiency
Haiti for constipation, digestive complaints, edema, erysipelas, intestinal parasites, menstrual disorders, nerves, sores, tumors, worms, and as a sedative
India for abortions, dysentery, fever, inflammation, rheumatism, skin ulcers
Mexico for gonorrhea, menstrual difficulties, nerves, pain, syphilis, yellow fever, and to promoting perspiration
South America for birth control, intestinal parasites, menstrual difficulties, worms
Trinidad for blood cleansing, boils, chest colds, constipation, coughs, dysentery, eczema, eye disorders, eye wash, fever, flu, intestinal parasites, lactation stimulation, rashes, rectitis, stomach, vitiligo, worms
West Indies for childbirth, intestinal parasites, lactation stimulation, menstrual disorders, skin parasites, worms
Elsewhere for abortions, bile insufficiency, birth control, boils, bruises, cataracts, constipation, diabetes, diarrhea, dysentery, edema, erysipelas, fever, hair loss, headache, heart support, inflammation, intestinal parasites, liver disease, malaria, menstrual irregularities, nausea, rheumatism, rhinitis, sores, sprains, stomach, tumors, venereal disease


The above text has been printed from The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs by Leslie Taylor, copyrighted © 2005 All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system, including websites, without written permission.

A complete Technical Data Report is available for this plant.

† The statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information contained in this plant database file is intended for education, entertainment and information purposes only. This information is not intended to be used to diagnose, prescribe or replace proper medical care. The plant described herein is not intended to treat, cure, diagnose, mitigate or prevent any disease. Please refer to our Conditions of Use for using this plant database file and web site.

Published Third-Party Research on Gervâo

All available third-party research on gervâo can be found at PubMed. A partial listing of the published third party research on gervâo is shown below:

Anti-Allergy & Bronchodilator Actions:

Hazekamp, A., et al. “Isolation of a bronchodilator flavonoid from the Thai medicinal plant Clerodendrum petasites.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 2001; 78(1): 45–9.

Digestion Stimulating, Antacid & Anti-diarrheal Actions:

Mesia-Vela, S., et al. “Pharmacological study of Stachytarpheta cayennensis Vahl in rodents.” Phytomedicine. 2004; 11(7-8): 616-24.

Vela, S. M., et al. “Inhibition of gastric acid secretion by the aqueous extract and purified extracts of Stachytarpheta cayennensis.” Planta Med. 1997; 63(1): 36–9.

Almeida, C. E., et al. “Analysis of antidiarrhoeic effect of plants used in popular medicine.” Rev. Saude. Publica. 1995; 29(6): 428–33.

Pain-Relieving, Antispasmodic & Anti-inflammatory Actions:

Lee, J. H., et al. “The effect of acteoside on histamine release and arachidonic acid release in RBL-2H3 mast cells.” Arch. Pharm. Res. 2006 Jun; 29(6): 508-13.

Penido, C., et al. “Anti-inflammatory and anti-ulcerogenic properties of Stachytarpheta cayennensis (L.C. Rich) Vahl.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 2006 Mar; 104(1-2): 225-33.

Mesia-Vela, S., et al. “Pharmacological study of Stachytarpheta cayennensis Vahl in rodents.” Phytomedicine. 2004; 11(7-8): 616-24.

Schapoval, E. E., et al. “Anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive activities of extracts and isolated compounds from Stachytarpheta cayennensis.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 1998; 60(1): 53–9.

Melita Rodriguez, S., et al. “Pharmacological and chemical evaluation of Stachytarpheta jamaicensis (Verbenaceae).” Rev. Biol. Trop. 1996 Aug; 44(2A): 353-9.

Gil, B., et al. “Effects of flavonoids on Naja Naja and human recombinant synovial phospholipases A2 and inflammatory responses in mice.” Life Sci. 1994; 54(20): PL333–38.

Feng, P. C., et al. “Pharmacological screening of some West Indian medicinal plants.” J. Pharm. Pharmacol. 1962; 14: 556–61.

Liver Protective & Detoxification Actions:

Park, J. C., et al. “Effects of methanol extract of Cirsium japonicum var. ussuriense and its principle, hispidulin-7-O-neohesperidoside on hepatic alcohol-metabolizing enzymes and lipid peroxidation in ethanol-treated rats.” Phytother. Res. 2004; 18(1): 19-24.

Xiong, Q., et al. “Acteoside inhibits apoptosis in D-galactosamine and lipopolysaccharide-induced liver injury.” Life Sci. 1999; 65(4): 421–30.

Xiong, Q., et al. “Hepatoprotective activity of phenylethanoids from Cistanche deserticola.” Planta Med. 1998; 64(2): 120–25.

Ferrandiz, M. L., et al. “Hispidulin protection against hepatotoxicity induced by bromobenzene in mice.” Life Sci. 1994; 55(8): PL145–50.

Kidney Protective Actions:

Hayashi, K., et al. “Acteoside, a component of Stachys sieboldii MIQ, may be a promising antinephritic agent (2): Effect of acteoside on leukocyte accumulation in the glomeruli of nephritic rats.” Jpn. J. Pharmacol. 1994 Sep; 66(1): 47-52.

Hayashi, K., et al. “Acetoside, a component of Stachys sieboldii MIQ, may be a promising antinephritic agent: effect of acteoside on crescentic-type anti-GBM nephritis in rats.” Jpn. J. Pharmacol. 1994 Jun; 65(2): 143-51.

Cellular Protective & Antioxidant Actions:

Koo, K. A., et al. “Acteoside and its aglycones protect primary cultures of rat cortical cells from glutamate-induced excitotoxicity.” Life Sci. 2006 Jul 10;79(7):709-16.

Lee, K. Y., et al. “Acteoside of Callicarpa dichotoma attenuates scopolamine-induced memory impairments.” Biol. Pharm. Bull. 2006; 29(1): 71-4.

Lin, L. C., et al. “The inhibitory effect of phenylpropanoid glycosides and iridoid glucosides on free radical production and beta2 integrin expression in human leucocytes.” J. Pharm. Pharmacol. 2006; 58(1): 129-35.

Galvez, M., et al. “Antioxidant activity of Plantago bellardii All.” Phytother. Res. 2005; 19(12): 1074-6.

Dabaghi-Barbosa, P., et al. “Hispidulin: antioxidant properties and effect on mitochondrial energy metabolism.” Free Radic. Res. 2005; 39(12): 1305-15.

Qiusheng, Z., et al. “Effects of verbascoside and luteolin on oxidative damage in brain of heroin treated mice.” Pharmazie. 2005; 60(7): 539-43.

Zhao, C., et al. “In vitro” protection of DNA from Fenton reaction by plant polyphenol verbascoside.”

Biochim. Biophys. Acta. 2005 May 25; 1723(1-3): 114-23.

Alvarez, E., et al. “Inhibitory effects of leaf extracts of Stachytarpheta jamaicensis (Verbenaceae) on the respiratory burst of rat macrophages.” Phytother. Res. 2004; 18(6): 457-62.

Liu, M.J.,et al.“The effects of verbascoside on plasma lipid peroxidation level and erythrocyte membrane fluidity during immobilization in rabbits: a time course study.” Life Sci. 2003 Jul; 73(7): 883-92.

Sheng, G. Q., et al. “Protective effect of verbascoside on 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium ion-induced neurotoxicity in PC12 cells.” Eur. J. Pharmacol. 2002; 451(2): 119–24.

Daels-Rakotoarison, D. A., et al. “Neurosedative and antioxidant activities of phenylpropanoids from Ballota nigra.” Arzneimittelforschung. 2000; 50(1): 16-23.

Sanz, M. J., et al. “Influence of a series of natural flavonoids on free radical generating systems and oxidative stress.” Xenobiotica. 1994; 24(7): 689-99.

Antimicrobial Actions:

Rigano, D., et al. “Antibacterial activity of flavonoids and phenylpropanoids from Marrubium globosum ssp. libanoticum.” Phytother. Res. 2006 Dec 21;

Bermejo, P., et al. “Antiviral activity of seven iridoids, three saikosaponins and one phenylpropanoid glycoside extracted from Bupleurum rigidum and Scrophularia scorodonia.” Planta Med. 2002; 68(2): 106–10.

Didry, N., et al. “Isolation and antibacterial activity of phenylpropanoid derivatives from Ballota nigra.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 1999; 67(2): 197–202.

Chariandy, C. M., et al. “Screening of medicinal plants from Trinidad and Tobago for antimicrobial and insecticidal properties.” J. Ethnopharmacol. 1999; 64(3): 265-70.

Cardiotonic Actions:

Zhou, J., et al. “Ventricular remodeling by scutellarein treatment in spontaneously hypertensive rats.” Chin. Med. J. (Engl.). 2002; 115(3): 375–77.

Pennacchio, M., et al. “Mechanism of action of verbascoside on the isolated rat heart: increases in level of prostacyclin.” Phytother. Res. 1999; 13(3): 254–55.

Anti-Estrogen Actions:

Papoutsi, Z., et al. “Acteoside and martynoside exhibit estrogenic/antiestrogenic properties.” J. Steroid Biochem. Mol. Biol. 2006; 98(1): 63-71.

Ingredients: 100% pure gervâo leaf (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis). No binders, fillers or additives are used. It is a wild harvested product—grown naturally in the Brazilian Amazon without any pesticides or fertilizers.

Suggested Use: This plant is best prepared as an infusion (tea). Use one teaspoon of powder for each cup of water. Pour boiling water over herb in cup and allow to steep 10 minutes. Strain tea (or allow settled powder to remain in the bottom of cup) and drink warm. It is traditionally taken in 1/2 cup amounts, twice daily. For more complete instructions on preparing herbal infusions, see the Methods for Preparing Herbal Remedies Page.


Not to be used during pregnancy or while breast feeding.

Gervâo has lowered blood pressure in animal studies. Those with low blood pressure should use with caution.

Drug Interactions: None reported, however gervâo might enhance the effect of blood pressure medications.

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