Self-heal (Prunella vulgaris)

Self heal is creeping perennial in the Lamiaceae, or mint family native to Europe and Asia. It has upright, flowering stems with opposite, ovate lanceolate leaves and compact heads of blue-violet to pink flowers. It thrives in disturbance areas, such as by roadsides and in railroads, as well as in open sunny field and moist areas, grasslands, woodland edges, typically preferring alkaline to neutral soils. It’s easily cultivated by seed or root division and prolifically self propagates by runners and seed.

Parts Used
Aerials

Medicinal Uses
Self-heal is a valuable astringent, antiseptic, and vulnerary herb, as well as a tonic wound healer. It’s high in vitamins C, B1, and K, and also a strong anti-oxidant and tissue protectant, making it valuable in the daily regimen of those with chronic illnesses or in convalescent, or just as a good general spring tonic. Both it’s anti-oxidant and astringent qualities make it useful for treating sore throats, inflammatory bowel disease, hemorrhoids, excessive menstruation, diarrhea, and local bleeding. It can also be used externally in lotions to treat excessive vaginal discharge as well as minor bleeding wounds. In China, Self Heal is known as xia ku cao, and is used to stimulate the liver and gall bladder, returning balance to the liver. It is considered the best herb to treat excessive liver heat. It’s also it’s taken to lower blood pressure, treat hypertension, relieve fluid retention, treat fevers, and to exterminate bacteria. This is a good herb to have growing at home for first aid use in compresses and poultices to aid the clean healing of fresh wounds.

Folk Uses
Self-Heal was a popular herbal remedy in 16th century Europe, used for a broad range of conditions but especially to heal wounds and stop bleeding. The young leaves and stems can be eaten raw in salads and the whole plant can be boiled and eaten as a potherb.

Flavor Profile and Energetics
Cold, bitter, spicy

Dosage
1-2 teaspoons of dried herb per cup of water, infused for 10 minutes, taken three times a day. As a tincture, 1-2 droppers three times a day.

Combinations
In Chinese medicine, Self-Heal is taken with Chrysanthemum x morifolium to treat fevers, headaches, vertigo, and to cool “liver fire”.

Contraindications
(s) 1, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15

A patch of Self Heal growing in the garden.

A patch of Self Heal growing in the garden.

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