Wednesday, January 28, 2015
SELF-HEAL: Prunella Vulgaris, Prunella Laciniata, Prunella Grandiflora
Also known as: all heal, sickle wort, hook heal, blue curls, carpenter's herb, heal-all, Hercules wound wort, panay, etc.
Parts used: aerial parts
Meridians/Organs affected: liver, gallbladder, thyroid, lymph, adrenals, immune
Properties: astringent, antipyretic, alterative, diuretic, styptic, cholagogue, tonic, vermifuge, antispasmodic, vulnerary, anti-tumor, anti-viral, amphoteric, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory
Self-heal is a part of the Labiatae/Lamiaceae family also known as the Mint family. It has a square stem with opposite lance like leaves that can get up to 4 inches long and purple flowers that manifest in a cylindrical shape (much like a sausage). While it is considered to be part of the mint family it has no odor. The stems tend to be weak so this plant is more of a creeper. It can get up to 12 inches tall and blooms from May to August or September depending on the climate it is in. It grows in grasslands, ditches, woodlands, stone walls, along highways, meadows, etc. It can be found throughout Europe, North America and Asia.
The Chinese call this herb 'xu ku cao' and have been using it since the Han Dynasty (206 BC-23 AD) for all kinds of liver related issues, cancer, circulation problems and as a general tonic for the body. The Germans use it for throat complaints and in Europe it is commonly used for swollen glands in the neck, scrofula, goiter and lipoma's. In the early days it was referred to as 'touch and heal' as it was believed if one merely touched the plant it would heal their wounds, cuts, etc. It was used a lot for such things as well as to stop bleeding (both internal and external) and to assist with fevers and diarrhea. It was also used as a gargle for mouth or throat related ailments. Gerard stated in 1597 that, "There is not a better wound herbe in the world than that of self-heale". Parkinson said that mixing the juice of self-heal with a little 'hony of roses, cleanseth and healeth all ulcers and sores in the mouthe and throate, and those also in the secret parts'. There is truth to this as self-heal has been found effective against both herpes simplex 1 & 2. James Duke found through his research that it is one of the most effective herbs for the thyroid. It is what is called amphoteric, which means if the thyroid is overactive then this herb will slow it down, if the thyroid is working too slowly then it will speed it up. (One of those thinking herbs). It is a shame that this herb has fallen by the wayside in western medicine. As it is effective for thyroid issues that makes it a useful kind of plant for things like Graves Disease, goiter or Hashimoto's. Something to consider anyway. Studies have shown it to contain ursolic acid, a component that is known to have anti-tumor capabilities. It has also been shown to lower blood pressure, stimulate the immune system, and to calm allergic responses. Jethro Kloss said it was helpful for epilepsy and convulsions. The Italians say that, "He that hath self-heal needs no other physician" . In Asian cultures it has been used for mastitis, enteritis, urinary tract infections, edema, jaundice, hepatitis, etc.
There is no doubt that this herb is under utilized given its proven abilities. The Europeans gather the flowers just as they come into bloom while the Chinese gather them just as it starts to brown near the end of the season showing that its medicinal effects are viable throughout its growth process.
As per my usual posts I am including some links herein for your perusal. Use them wisely and stay healthy!