Botanical: Prunella vulgaris
Family: Lamiaceae/Labiatae (mint)
Other common names: Self Heal, All Heal, Brunella, Woundwort, Wound Root, Heal All, Slough Heal, Blue Curls, Hercules' Woundwort, Hook-Heal, Heart of the Earth, Carpenter's Herb, Xia Ku Cao, Dragonhead, Common Self-Heal
Prunella is an old treatment for internal and external bleeding and wounds, including excessive menstruation and bleeding ulcers. It is said to be a potent antiviral agent and has shown great promise in laboratory tests for possible use in herpes, HIV and AIDS treatments.
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Prunella is a creeping perennial that is native to Eurasia and grows throughout Europe and North America, where it may be found in damp meadows, pastures, waste places and on roadsides, thriving in moist, well-drained soil in sunny areas or light shade. It is a genus of seven harbaceous plants known as "self-heals." When imported to North America and Australia, it quickly became naturalized as a common wildflower and abundant in open and exposed situations, tending to oust native flowers. Prunella is a diminutive plant but will grow larger in all its parts when growing in more sheltered places. The main stem of the plant is grooved and rough to the touch and bears pointed oval leaves with dense, purple flower clusters (sometimes blue or pink). Prunella does not appear to have been known to the ancient Romans or Greeks, but it was mentioned in Chinese medical literature during the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.- A.D. 23) as an important herb in the treatment of complaints associated with a disturbed liver, high blood pressure and conjunctivitis. In Western medicine, it has always been regarded primarily as a wound herb, giving rise to many of its common names, Woundwort, etc. The name its botanical genus, Prunella, is derived from Brunellen, a name given to it by the Germans, because it rose to prominence when military physicians used it to treat a contagious fever that raged among the German imperial troops in 1547 and 1566, that was characterized by a sore throat and a brown-coated tongue. The fever was called "the browns" (braun is the German word for "brown"). In John Gerard's Herball of 1597, he claimed there was no "better wound herb[e]" in the world than Self Heal" (another common name) and said it would "heal any green wound[e]." In 1653, the great English herbalist, Nicholas Culpeper, wrote that "Self Heal" would be good taken both "inwardly or outwardly for wounds and bleeding" and would "cleanse the foulness of sores and speedily heal them." In North America, Prunella's antiseptic and antibacterial effects were said to be particularly good in cases of food poisoning, and in the Pacific Northwest, its juice was used by the Quinault and Quileute tribes for the treatment of boils. They also used the whole plant to treat cuts and inflammations. Prunella is an astringent, slightly bitter, saline herb that is harvested when in optimum condition (and the plant is in bloom). Although the plant is a member of the mint family, no mint fragrance or flavor is present, and all the aerial (above-ground) parts of the plant are used in herbal medicine. Some of the constituents included in Prunella are volatile oil, a bitter principle, tannin, rutin, beta-carotene, sugar, cellulose and vitamins B-1, C and K.
Prunella is an herbal astringent that has been effective in controlling both external and internal bleeding. It has been used as a styptic that has been used internally in Western medicine to stop hemorrhage, internal bleeding ulcers and excessive menstruation, and its gentle astringency also helps to control chronic and sudden diarrhea (although it is recommended that this application be used under the aegis of a health care provider). For external treatment, those astringent qualities may be applied to relieve hemorrhoids and decrease the bleeding of wounds and cuts.
As an antiviral, Prunella is said to be useful for treating herpes virus infection in two ways. It is thought to be a viral replication inhibitor, stopping the virus from growing within cells and also by preventing it from binding to cells. Moreover, recent and very hopeful research has shown very interesting results with respect to HIV and AIDS. In Japan, studies showed strong anti-HIV effects in laboratory conditions, and Canadian scientists claim that Prunella blocks cell-to-cell transmission of the HIV virus and also interferes with the virus's ability to bind with T-cells, the immune cells that are destroyed by HIV infection. At the University of California at Davis, scientists have identified a complex sugar in the herb that accounts for its actions against HIV.
Prunella is considered an antibiotic and antiseptic (which supports its historical use to help ease sore throats and heal "green" wounds), and its antibiotic effects are thought to be useful for inhibiting
the growth of pseudomonas, Bacillus typhi, E. coli and Mycobacterium tuberculi. It is still used externally in gargles to relieve sore throat and ulcerated mouth, in addition to stopping infection from spreading and speeding up the healing of wounds, cuts, bruises, burns, ulcers and sores. It is also believed to reduce scarring.
Prunella is reported to reduce lymphatic congestion and has been used to relieve swollen glands, mumps and mastitis.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Prunella was used as a liver and gallbladder stimulant and was used to treat conjunctivitis, hypertension and headaches, among other disorders.
Those with diarrhea, nausea, stomachache or vomiting should consult a physician before using Prunella Herbal Supplement. This herb could potentially interfere with actions of prescription blood thinners (Plavix, Coumadin, etc.).