PRUNELLA VULGARIS ( SELF-HEAL) - INFORMATION: HEALTH BENEFITS AND USES OF PRUNELLA VULGARIS
Self –Heal is also called All-Heal, Prunella, Brunella, Heart of the Earth and Blue Curls, among other names. It’s native to Europe, Asia and North America, and is used in the Unani (Greek) medicine system in Kashmir. It grows in the Sichuan province of China and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. It’s a common plant in Britain, and was much esteemed by both John Gerard and Nicholas Culpeper, the two major British herbalists of the 16th and 17th century respectively. Culpeper describes the flowers in this way, “thicke set together like an eare or spiky knap.” You can see for yourself why he described it in this way. The tiny flowers grow from the stem and resemble small orchids. They are usually a blue-violet, but can be pink or white, although these are rare.
“There is not a better Wound herb in the world than that of Self-Heal…for this very herbe, without the mixture of any other ingredient, being onely bruised and wrought with the point of a knife… will be brought into the form of a salve, which will heal any green wounde…The decoction of Prunell made with wine and water doth join together and make whole and sound all wounds, both inward and outward, even as Bugle doth. To be short, it serveth for the same that the Bugle serveth and in the world there are not two better wound herbs as hath been often proved.”
Bugle is Ajuga reptans (LINN), while Sanicle mentioned below is Sanicula Europea (LINN). Self-Heal is a member of the mint family, and its leaves are edible and can be used in soups, stews and salads. It’s a Lamiaceae or Labiatae.
Culpeper explains its name “Self-Heal whereby when you are hurt you may heal yourself.” He agrees with Gerard, that it is as efficacious as Bugle “inwardly or outwardly, for inward wounds and ulcers in the body, for bruises and falls or hurts.” He goes on to recommend its use with both Bugle and Sanicle “to wash and inject into ulcers in the parts outwards.” He also claims that “the juice used with oil of roses to anoint the temples and forehead is very effectual to remove the headache.”
In Kashmir it has been used as a “brain tonic” for sore throats, colds, headaches, and is used boiled and the steam inhaled for clearing mucous and to reduce a headache. It is also one of a mixture of herbs given to a woman after delivery of a baby to make her strong again.
You can make a tisane with 1 ounce of the dried herb to 1 pint of boiling water. Pour the water over the chopped herb and leave to steep for 10-15 minutes, before straining and drink to help internal bleeding and piles, also if missed with a little honey it is good for sore throats and mouth ulcers, so can be used as a gargle as well as a tisane. The leaves are wound healers, and if you put the juice from the leaves on a wound, it will heal quickly. A tisane made with the flowers is particularly pleasant to take as a general tonic.
The plant contains rutin, vitamins C and K, flavonoids, Prunellin, a polysaccharide, phenolic and tannins along with other substances. The rutin combined with the vitamins supports blood vessels and connective tissue in the body, but this little plant has many more health benefits. Because it is so common on three continents, much research has been done into it, and it has been found to be effective against herpes simplex, and is being experimented with as an anti-tumour and cancer treatment as well as an anti-HIV treatment. It has anti-viral and bacterial properties and is effective against the E.coli and Bacillus typhi strains of bacteria. This gives credence to the steam treatment used in Kashmir, where it is also used to lower blood pressure, as an antibiotic, antiseptic, anti-rheumatic, diuretic, vermifuge (to get rid of internal parasites) and for its antibacterial properties.