Vervain is a potent herb, and a vampire's most well-known weakness. If a vampire makes physical contact with vervain in any form, it will burn them. If a vampire ingests vervain, the vampire's throat and digestive tract will be burned and they will become feverish and extremely weak. If a human ingests or holds vervain somewhere in or on the body (such as holding it in a hand or pocket, or wearing it in jewelry), the human is protected from vampire compulsion and entitled to free will.
During the Middle Ages, the family that would eventually go on to become the Original Family of vampires, who lived in Europe, was hit by a terrible plague that caused the death of the firstborn child of their family. To escape the plague, the family, along with several friends and neighbors, moved to the New World (in what is now the town of Mystic Falls) to start a new life in the place where they had heard the people were healthy, strong, and gifted with speed and strength (otherwise known as the werewolves). The family, composed of parents Mikael and Esther, and the children whom they had after moving to their new home (Finn, Elijah, Niklaus, Kol, Rebekah and Henrik) enjoyed years of tranquility and peace between themselves and their native neighbors in their village. Unfortunately, the youngest child of the family, Henrik, was mortally wounded by a werewolf when he and Niklaus snuck out to go see the werewolves transform into wolves on a full moon, and he ultimately died.
Distraught and desperate to protect their family from any more deaths, Esther and Mikael begged Esther's close friend and mentor, a witch named Ayana, to use her magic to turn her family into vampires, using a modified version of the immortality spell. Ayana refused, reminding Esther that their duty as witches was to uphold the balance of Nature and warning her that their plans would result in a plague upon the earth, which would result in the spirits turning against her. However, she and Mikael were so determined to protect their children that Esther performed the spell without Ayana's assistance. Mikael fed his children wine laced with the blood of the doppelgänger Tatia before he killed them by stabbing them in the heart with his sword. When they awoke in transition, he forced them to feed on the human blood of a villager to complete the ritual. According to Rebekah, the benefits were indescribable, but casting the spell was a "betrayal" against Nature itself, and, as Ayana had warned, Nature defended itself against the undead in several ways: preventing them from entering places owned by humans without invitation; making them vulnerable to sunlight; making human blood their utmost desire; weakening them against both the wood from the great White Oak Tree, as well as the flowers (vervain) that grew at the tree's base.
Uses For Vervain
Vervain is used to stop vampires from compelling humans. Its negative effects on vampires are a result of Nature's attempt to create a weakness for every strength that a vampire gained after being turned. Humans who ingest vervain also have the added benefit of making their blood unappealing to vampires as a result of the weakness and burns it causes; however, most vampires are unable to tell if a human has been ingesting vervain unless they are somehow able to smell it on them, so it does not always ensure that a human is completely safe from vampire attacks. Another use for vervain is for it to be used as a weapon against vampires that can weaken and/or wound them enough to be easily captured or killed.
How To Protect Yourself Using Vervain
- Put it in your food and drinks
- You can carry it by:
- Holding it in your hand/pocket
- Putting it in your bag
- Wearing it in jewelery
- Wearing it as a perfume
- In the novels, some people bathed in it
In Mystic Falls, many residents wear or ingest vervain as a way to protect themselves from the large vampire population. The main people who push it's use are the Founding Families (e.g. the Town Council). They are so persistent that at one point, they even put vervain in the town's water supply, which meant the water was unusable by any vampires in the area. While the water supply was infused with vervain, the vampires in the Mystic Falls Gang took showers at the Salvatore Boarding House, as they had their own water system that had no vervain in it.
The availability of vervain in Mystic Falls has fluctuated over the course of the town's history. At one point, Zach Salvatore was the only person in town who had a steady supply, as he grew it himself. Vervain became more plentiful in the town until Pastor Young and his reformed Town Council blew up Pastor Young's ranch with the entirety of the town's vervain supply inside, causing a shortage. It wasn't until Bonnie's father Rudy Hopkins became mayor of the town and put vervain in the water supply that vervain became more readily available again.
In many episodes, vervain was used as a weapon against vampires to keep them weakened and sedated. But, some vampires have been known to ingest vervain in small, but steadily increasing doses in order to build up a stronger tolerance for it to protect them from vampire hunters and others who seek to use it against them. For example, Katherine admitted to taking small amounts of vervain every day for 145 years to ensure that she would never be caught off-guard by its use again. Once it was revealed that Original vampires could compel regular vampires, Stefan, Damon and Caroline began also taking small amounts of vervain to keep them from being compelled.
People wearing and consuming vervain
- Elena Gilbert wore a necklace, given to her by Stefan, which had a pendant filled with vervain on it. She also, on occasion, ingested vervain in drinks before she was turned into a vampire.
- Jeremy Gilbert wore a bracelet with vervain in it, but later gave it to April Young when he became a hunter, who are immune to compulsion. The bracelet was made by Stefan and given to him by Elena. He also drank tea with vervain in it.
- Jenna Sommers wore a perfume that contained vervain, which was made by Stefan and given to her by Elena. She also drank vervain tea.
- Trudie Peterson drank vervain tea, which she also served to Elena when the latter visited Trudy's home to learn about her mother.
- Alaric Saltzman drank vervain.
- Carol Lockwood wore a charm bracelet with vervain in one of the charms.
- Members of the Founder's Council either consume or wear vervain, as well as many of the Sheriff's deputies.
- Caroline Forbes wore a vervain necklace until she became a vampire. When she was turned into a vampire, the vervain started burning her, so she stopped wearing it. The necklace was made by Stefan and given to her by Elena.
- Connor Jordan wore gloves soaked in vervain-infused liquid in order to identify vampires when he shook his hand. If the person's hand burned when he shook their hand, he knew they were vampires and would promptly attempt to kill them.
- April Young wears a vervain bracelet given to her by Jeremy Gilbert, which he gave her to protect her after he felt bad about how often she was being compelled by vampires.
- Matt Donovan was at one point taking vervain, as well as slipping it into the coffee at the Mystic Grill, when he had just began learning about vampires and was wary about socializing with them. He stopped ingest after Elena first turned and could only drink human blood so that she could feed on him. He then began wearing a vervain bracelet instead of consuming it, just in case one of his vampire friends needed his blood in case of an emergency.
Vampires Immune to vervain
- Katherine Pierce - Katherine had been drinking vervain every day for 145 years in order to develop an immunity to it.
- Damon Salvatore - Damon began drinking vervain every day after he learned that Katherine had done the same to develop an immunity. It was shown that his tolerance to the herb began to increase when he was attacked by Stevie, and later by Meredith Fell. He then continued ingesting vervain after the Original vampires came to town to prevent them from compelling him. However, once Pastor Young destroyed the town's vervain supply in his suicide, Damon was unable to continue ingesting vervain and his tolerance to it because to decrease.
- Stefan Salvatore - Stefan also drank vervain to try and build up an immunity. After Pastor Young destroyed the town's vervain supply in his suicide, Stefan's immunity began to decrease as well.
- Marcel Gerard - Marcel was seen directly ingesting vervain. He reasons that as the one responsible for running New Orleans, it is ideal for him, as leader, to keep his vulnerabilities at a minimum. This was likely both to ensure it couldn't be used against him, as well as to prevent himself from being compelled by the Originals after they returned to town.
- Lorenzo - Enzo developed an immunity, as result of being constantly injected with vervain for over 70 years during his torture at the hands of Augustine. He demonstrated his immunity when he was injected with vervain by Tripp Cooke and was able to recover within seconds.
- In 1864, Pearl's Apothecary sold vervain elixirs to the townspeople. A few years later, they had stopped selling vervain.
- The Founder's Council used vervain to protect people from vampires. Zach Salvatore was their supplier, until Damon Salvatore killed him. Damon then took over as the main supplier of vervain in town in order to better convince the Council that he wasn't a vampire.
- When ingested, vervain causes a vampire to become severely weak and feverish, often to the point of unconsciousness. If a vampire's skin is exposed to vervain, it results in burns, although it is less severe if the vampire has a tolerance to it.
- Vervain also protects humans from being compelled when it is consumed or worn.
- Katherine Pierce was the first known vampire to develop an immunity to vervain, after drinking it in laced fluids for over a century. In the episode The Descent, both Damon and Stefan began taking small doses of vervain, so they too could develop an immunity. In the episode both Crying Wolf (while being attacked by Stevie) and in the episode The Ties that Bind (when attacked by Meredith Fell), Damon showed signs of resistance to vervain, which implied that he has already begun to develop a sense of immunity.
- Older vampires seem to be more resistant vervain's physical effects, as Elijah's burns from a vervain grenade that exploded in his face healed within seconds. This could also be because he is both an Original vampire and one of the oldest vampires at 1,000+ years of age, and, as such, heals at a much faster rate.
- Alaric Saltzman invented two types of weapons which involved vervain. The first was a dart in which the vervain was held and it would inject whichever vampire was stabbed with it directly into their bloodstream; the second is the vervain bomb, a sort of grenade made from a jar full of vervain-infused liquid, which explodes like a regular grenade and showers the vampire in vervain extract and broken glass, burning their skin and incapacitating them temporarily due to the increased severity of their injuries.
- Bill Forbes and Atticus Shane cannot be compelled even despite the fact that they aren't on vervain. Bill Forbes claims that it is a skill he learned after decades of practice, and compared the brain to a muscle that becomes stronger the more it is used. Atticus Shane claims to have picked up the skill on his travels around the world with mystical and magical people. There are also other supernatural creatures who cannot be compelled at all, such as (triggered) werewolves, witches, and members of The Brotherhood of the Five.
- As no vampire has been shown to die from vervain exposure, it's implied that it simply weakens them, rather than killing them.
- "Vervain" is the title of the first The Vampire Diaries: Digital Comic trilogy.
- In Dead Man On Campus, vervain was shown to used in vapor form for the first time. Dr. Wes Maxfield created a safety feature in the lab where he experimented on vampires that involved pushing a button in the wall, which released atomized vervain extract into the air in such a large quantity that Damon was incapacitated instantly and lost consciousness within seconds.
- Vervain is also called herb-of the cross, pigeon's grass, verbena, and ma bian cao.
- It is supposed to help treat anxiety, stress, and nervous tension. It also has anti-depressant properties and stimulates digestion.
- The Egyptians associated the plant with their goddess Isis.
- Vervain is a consecrated herb for the Celtic Druids, just like mistletoe is.