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Self Heal

Botanical Name

Prunella vulgaris

Common Name

Self heal, heal all, all heal, brunella, carpenter’s herb, brownwort, hook heal, slough heal, heart of the earth, blue curls, woundwort, sickle wort, consuelda menor, consolida minor, hsia ku ts’ao, adi erikotu



Parts Used

Flowering tops, leaves

Native To

Although self heal’s exact native range is obscure (Wiersema & León, 2016), it is believed to be native to most regions of the Northern Hemisphere (Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew [RBGK], n.d.).

Harvesting Guidelines

Self heal, a medicinal plant, contains high levels of rosmarinic, ursolic, and oleanolic acids in its floral spikes during the pre-flowering stage. A study conducted in China suggests that the plant should be harvested in early May for optimal potency, although this may vary depending on the location where it is grown. (1)


Self heal, also known as Prunella vulgaris, has been used for centuries in both Europe and China as both a food and an herb. In China, it has been used for over a millennium and was included in one of the earliest Chinese materia medica texts. It is prepared in a variety of ways throughout China, with the spring buds eaten in steamed rice cakes in the Hunan province and used as an ingredient in soup or tea in Guangdong. In the West, self heal is also used as a food, with the leaves added to salads and the flowering tops cooked into soups or made into an infused vinegar. Its name in Chinese, xia ku cao, means "grass that withers in summer," reflecting its ability to survive and thrive in harsh conditions. (2)

Self heal, has been used for centuries for its healing properties. According to herbalist Nicolas Culpeper, self heal is associated with the planet Venus and is effective in treating external wounds. The Anishinaabe people have also used self heal as a poultice to draw out foreign objects from the skin and clear infections. In their language, the plant is called ingijibinaa, which means "the great drawer-outer." Today, self heal is still used in traditional medicine practices for its healing properties.

Self-heal, also known as Prunella vulgaris, has been found to have antiviral and antibacterial properties. Studies have shown that it can inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria such as E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Klebsiella pneumoniae, as well as exhibit activity against viruses such as HIV, herpes simplex, and influenza. Its traditional use for the mouth and throat also suggests its potential use in treating cold sores. (3)

Self heal is a medicinal herb with a variety of uses. It has astringent, anti-inflammatory, and demulcent properties, making it effective for treating inflammation and gastrointestinal issues such as irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, and diarrhea. In Western herbalism, self heal has been traditionally used for hemorrhoids, while the Cherokee use it as a carminative to ease gas, colic, diarrhea, and dyspepsia. Culpeper recommended self heal for ulcers, and Karuk herbalist Josephine Peters suggests adding gelatin to self heal tea to treat bleeding ulcers. (4)

Self heal, also known as Prunella vulgaris, has been used for centuries in various cultures for its cooling properties. In Europe during the 17th century, it was commonly used as a febrifuge to reduce fevers. Similarly, in Chinese folk herbalism, self heal has been used for the same purpose. Native American groups such as the Delaware and Mohegan have also used self heal as a tea or cooling wash for the body to alleviate fevers. (5)

Self heal has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. In Hong Kong, it is commonly used to alleviate symptoms of "hot qi" in children, which may be caused by infections or allergies. In South Korea, it has been traditionally used to treat various conditions such as scrofula, goiter, edema, and kidney disorders. The World Health Organization recognizes self heal as a medicinal plant with potential therapeutic benefits. (6)


Adult Dose (7)

Tea: 1 cup (1-2 teaspoons dried herb in 8 fl oz water) 2x/day

Tincture: 1.5-5 mL fresh herb (1:2, 65%) 3-5x/day ; 5-10 mL dried herb (1:4, 40%) 1-3x/day.


Self heal, also known as sanicle (Sanicula europaea), is an herb that has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. However, it is important to verify the specific species of the plant before use. Some individuals have reported allergic reactions to self heal, including rashes, swelling, and gastrointestinal symptoms. Additionally, self heal may have an impact on blood sugar levels, so individuals with diabetes should exercise caution and closely monitor their blood sugar levels if using this herb.(8)




(1) Chen, Y., Guo, Q., Zhu, Z., & Zhang, L. (2012). Changes in bioactive components related to the harvest time from the spicas of Prunella vulgaris. Pharmaceutical Biology, 50(9), 1118-1122.

(2) Bai, Y., Xia, B., Xie, W., Zhou, Y., Xie, J., Li, H., … Li, C. (2016). Phytochemistry and pharmacological activities of the genus Prunella. Food Chemistry, 204, 483-496.

(3) Oh, C., Price, J., Brindley, M.A., Widrlechner, M.P., Qu, L., McCoy, J.A., … Maury, W. (2011). Inhibition of HIV-1 infection by aqueous extracts of Prunella vulgaris L. Virology Journal, 8, Article 188.

(4) Garrett, J.T. (2003). The Cherokee herbal: Native plant medicine from the four directions. Bear & Company.

(5) Tantaquidgeon, G. (2001). Folk medicine of the Delaware and related Algonkian Indians. The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

(6) Kong, F.Y., Ng, D.K., Chan, C.H., Yu, W.L., Chan, D., Kwok, K.L., & Chow, P.Y. (2006). Parental use of the term “hot qi" to describe symptoms in their children in Hong Kong: A cross sectional survey “hot qi" in children. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, 2, Article 2.

(7) Winston, D. (2003). Herbal therapeutics: Specific indications for herbs and herbal formulas (8th ed.). Herbal Therapeutics Research Library.

(8) Coffman, S. (2021). Herbal medic: A Green Beret’s guide to emergency medical preparedness and natural first aid. Storey Publishing.


Scientific Research:


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