Prunella vulgaris

Common Name: All-Heal, Blue Curls, Brownwort, Brunelle, Brunelle Commune, Brunelle Vulgaire, Brunette, Carpenter’s Herb, Carpenter’s Weed, Charbonnière, Heal-All, Heart of the Earth, Herbe au Charpentier, Hercules Woundwort, Hock-Heal, Petite Consoude, Prunela, Prunella, Prunelle, Prunelle Vulgaire, Self Heal, Sicklewort, Siclewort, Slough-Heal, Woundwort
Family: Lamiaciae
TCM Name: Xia Ku Cao
Ayurvedic Name: N/A
Parts Used: leaves, flowering tops
Native To: Northern Hemisphere

Medicinal Notes

The plant has a long history of medicinal use, and traditionally the leaves are applied to wounds to promote healing. According to the 16th-century herbalist John Gerard, ‘there is not a better wounde herbe in the world’. The 17th-century botanist Nicholas Culpeper wrote that the plant is called self-heal because ‘when you are hurt, you may heal yourself’.

According to KewScience:

“Prior to World War II, it was used to staunch bleeding and for treating heart disease. A decoction of the leaves was used to treat sore throats and internal bleeding. It is used as an anti-inflammatory and has anti-allergic activity. In western medicine it is used externally for treating minor injuries, sores, burns, bruises and can also be used as a mouthwash to treat mouth ulcers.

Whereas in European countries herbalists have mainly used selfheal for treating wounds, in Chinese medicine it is mainly used for treating liver complaints, acting as a stimulant in the liver and gall bladder. Self-heal shows antiviral properties, and in China it is used as an anti-cancer drug.:


Identifying Self-heal

Self-heal is a member of the family Lamiaciae. Prunella vulgaris is a perennial herb, with stems often square, crimson tinged, and erect to decumbent, up to 30 cm tall

According to Show Me OZ:

“To use Heal-All, simply cut the desired amount of stems desired to ground level and avoid pulling up the plant as this effectively kills it.  Always avoid harvesting Heal-All from roadsides, pastures, agricultural fields and other sites that may be contaminated with herbicides, pesticides, lead or any number of industrial chemicals because Heal-All is known to readily these chemicals from the soil.”


Self-heal contains a wide array of acid compounds including lauric –, oleanolic –, rosmarinic –(antioxidant), linoleic – and ursolic acid. Contains volatile oils (camphor, fenchone), bitters, saponins, tannins, glycoside (aucubin), flavinoids



 Self-heal is used as an astringent for remedying diarrhea and inflammatory bowel issues such as colitis and Crohn’s disease. The bitter constituents stimulate the liver and gall bladder.
 It is helpful to the urinary system as it clears toxins and excess uric acid via the kidneys. It has been widely recommended for gout. As it contains urosolic acid, it has diuretic properties and claims to anticancer properties as a result of research on this particular acid.
 I was excited to read about its benefit to the reproductive system. Its astringency in known to curb heavy menstrual bleeding, menorraghia.
 Self-heal is known to work well with specific types of headaches caused by tension, vertigo, light-sensitivity and high blood pressure.
 It is a wonder for the immune system. While enhancing immunity and reducing fevers, research shows a potent antiviral action, alongside antioxidant effects thanks to the rosmarinic acid compounds. It is recommended for lowered immunity, HIV, chronic fatigue syndrome and allergies.
 It is an effective antibiotic and is useful against swollen glands, mumps, glandular fever and mastitis.
 Self-heal has detoxifying capabilities, clearing up inflammation, with an affinity for skin issues.
 TCM has long used it to calm hyperactivity in children.
 Externally, Self-heal has been used as a traditional wound remedy; a tea/compress/poultice on a burn, bite, cut, sprain, sting, varicose vein or ulcer. Drops have been used to help inflammatory eye issues such as conjunctivitis.
                                                       Thanks to Anne McIntyre, The Complete Herbal Tutor
Ways to Use: Tincture, infusion, infused oil, powder, salve, compress
Actions: emollient, styptic, tonic, relaxant, antibiotic, liver tonic, antiallergenic, restorative, diuretic, digestive, antioxidant, astringent, hemostatic, hypotensive, anti-inflammatory and vulnerary
Taste:  bitter, pungent, acrid 
Energy: cooling, dispersing, slightly moistening
Adult Dose

 Tincture: 1:5; 40% ethanol: 2-4 ml three times a day

Tea: 3g in one day as tea or infusion .

External applications: salve, compress, powder or wash as needed.




It should not be taken in large doses during pregnancy, but it is sometimes appropriate in small doses at that time.

3 Comments on “Self-heal

  1. Oh my, that Latin name does not sound at all appealing.
    There is a type of very different blue curls that is native here that was supposedly used like self heal, although those who know the specie would say that it is completely different chemically. It grows in such odd places that I doubt that it got much use. I mean that no one would go up to the hillsides to get it when self-heal can be grown in home gardens.


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