Family: Lamiaceae or Labiatae
Other names: Prunella, All-Heal, Hook-Heal, Slough-Heal, Brunella, Heart of the Earth, Blue Curls,
Habitat: Europe, including Britain, from Norway south and east to N. Africa and temperate Asia. Waste ground, grassland, woodland edges etc, usually on basic and neutral soils.
Self-Heal has a long history of use the world over as a medicinal herb although now-a-days it is not credited with all the benefits that it once had it still finds itself a useful addition to the medicine chest as a vulnerary. It is effective in treating inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), diarrhea, colic, and stomach upset and irritation (gastroenteritis). It is also used for mouth and throat ulcers, sore throat, and internal bleeding. Self-heal contains vitamins C and K, and thiamine. It also contains chemicals called tannins that might help reduce skin swelling (inflammation) and have a drying (astringent) effect on the tissues. It can be used as a substitute for Bugle as it’s properties are very similar. Externally it is used to treat wounds and ulcers in the form of a poultice. Do not confuse with dead nettle when growing in short grass they look very similar.
Description of Self-Heal:
Prunella vulgaris, Self-Heal is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.2 m (0ft 8in) by 0.3 m (1ft).
It is hardy to zone 3 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jul to September, and the seeds ripen from Aug to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or full sun. It prefers moist soil.
Cultivation of Self-Heal:
Thrives in any damp soil, in full sun or in light shade. Plants are apt to become troublesome weeds in turf that is at all damp. Self heal is a good plant for growing in the spring meadow.
Propagation of Self-Heal:
Seed – sow in mid spring in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. If you have sufficient seed then it can be sown outdoors in situ in mid to late spring. Division in spring or autumn. Very easy, larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer.
Culinary uses of Self-Heal:
Edible Parts: Leaves.
Edible Uses: Drink.
Leaves – raw or cooked. They can be used in salads, soups, stews etc. Somewhat bitter due to the presence of tannin in the leaves, though this can be removed by washing the leaves. A cold water infusion of the freshly chopped or dried and powdered leaves is used as a refreshing beverage. Flavoursome.
Alterative, Antibacterial, Antibiotic, Antidiarrhoeal, Antipyretic, Antiseptic, Antispasmodic, Astringent, Carminative, Diuretic, Febrifuge, Hypotensive, Stomachic, Styptic, Tonic, Vermifuge, Vulnerary.
Part used: All aerial parts
Self heal has a long history of folk use as a medicinal herb especially in the treatment of wounds, ulcers, sores etc. It was also taken internally as a tea in the treatment of fevers, diarrhoea, sore mouth, internal bleeding etc. In Korea it is used to treat oedema, nephritis, scrofula and goitre. The whole plant is alterative, antibacterial, antipyretic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, carminative, diuretic, febrifuge, hypotensive, stomachic, styptic, tonic, vermifuge and vulnerary. It has an antibacterial action, inhibiting the growth of Pseudomonas, Bacillus typhi, E. coli, Mycobacterium tuberculi etc. It can be used fresh or dried, for drying it is best harvested in mid-summer. The plant is experimentally antibiotic and hypotensive.
Culpepper, explaining the name ‘Self-Heal whereby when you are hurt, you may heal yourself,’ tells us that:’it is an especial herb for inward or outward wounds. Take it inwardly in syrups for inward wounds, outwardly in unguents and plasters for outward. As Self-Heal is like Bugle in form, so also in the qualities and virtues, serving for all purposes, where unto Bugle is applied with good success either inwardly or outwardly, for inward wounds or ulcers in the body, for bruises or falls and hurts. If it be combined with Bugle, Sanicle and other like wound herbs, it will be more effectual to wash and inject into ulcers in the parts outwardly…. It is an especial remedy for all green wounds to close the lips of them and to keep the place from further inconveniences. The juice used with oil of roses to anoint the temples and forehead is very effectual to remove the headache, and the same mixed with honey of roses cleaneth and healeth ulcers in the mouth and throat.’
Dosage and Preparation of Self -Heal:
Pour a cup of water on to 1-2 teaspoons of dried herb bring to the boil and leave to sit for 10-15 mins. This should be drunk 3 times a day.
Self Heal Tincture 2-4 ml three times a day.
Other uses of Self-Heal:
An olive-green dye is obtained from the flowers and stems. The plant is a good ground-cover in sunny positions or light shade.
Esoteric uses of Self-Heal:
Traditionally gathered at night Self-heal is used primarily for healing magic. Gender- Feminine , Planet- Venus, Element- Earth. It is said that this was one of the herbs that the Druids used and traditionally it is harvested at night whilst the dog star is in the sky.
The plant’s active chemical constituents are:
betulinic acid, D-camphor, D-fenchone, cyanidin, delphinidin, hyperoside, manganese, lauric acid, oleanolic acid, rosmarinic acid, myristic acid, rutin, linoleic acid, ursolic acid, beta-sitosterol, lupeol, and tannins