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Self-heal - Prunella vulgaris




"Prunella vulgaris is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.2 m (0ft 8in) by 0.3 m (1ft).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 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 no shade. It prefers moist soil."[PFAF]

Two subspecies occur in BC:
1. Principal stem leaves egg-shaped to oblong (averaging half as broad as long), broadly wedge-shaped or rounded at base.................... ssp. vulgaris
1. Principal stem leaves lanceolate to egg-shaped (averaging one-third as broad as long), narrowly wedge- shaped to abruptly pointed at base.................. ssp. lanceolata (Bart.) Hult. [IFBC-E-flora]

USDA Flower Colour: Purple
USDA Blooming Period: Mid Summer
USDA Fruit/Seed characteristics:

Present from Summer to Fall



Edible Uses

Other Uses

Medicinal Uses

Self heal has a long history of folk use, especially in the treatment of wounds, ulcers, sores etc[7]. It was also taken internally as a tea in the treatment of fevers, diarrhoea, sore mouth, internal bleeding etc[4, 222]. In Korea it is used to treat oedema, nephritis, scrofula and goitre[279]. [PFAF]


Medicinal Use


Self-heal (Prunella vulgaris), although largely neglected by Western herbalists, is an important herb in Chinese medicine. The bitters have a stimulating action on the liver and gallbladder, and selfheal is prescribed for symptoms of jaundice and liver problems. It is also recommended for gout. Self-heal is used for headaches, particularly when related to tension and photophobia. Research has indicated that Prunella has a potent antiviral action, including activity against HIV (Zheng 1990, Yamasaki et al 1993). This combined with an immunomodulatory effect of the polysaccharides (Markova et al 1997) makes Prunella well worth bearing in mind when considering immunity especially since it grows as a weed in temperate climates. Rosmarinic acid contributes to antioxidant effects of Prunella (Lamaison et al 1991), whilst trials suggest it has antimutagenic effects, indicating possible use as an anticancer herb (Lee and Lin 1988). Self-heal can also be taken for swollen glands, mumps, glandular fever and mastitis. As an astringent, it can be taken for diarrhoea and colitis. [McIntyre AHTC]



Whole Flowering Plant

  • Bitter principles [PDR]
  • Flavonoids: including rutin, hyperoside.[PDR]
  • Tannins.[PDR]
  • Triterpene saponins.[PDR]
  • Triterpenes, ursolic acid, oleanolic acid.[PDR]

Mass of 1,000, g: 0.9 [1]
Oil (petroleum ether, 30–60C), % dry wt: 19.0 [1];
16.0 [2]

  • Loaded with natural antioxidants, this edible weed contains more rosmarinic acid than rosemary itself.[HMH Duke]


Thrives in any damp soil[1], in full sun or in light shade[238]. Plants are apt to become troublesome weeds in turf that is at all damp[1]. Self heal is a good plant for growing in the spring meadow[24].[PFAF]


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.[PFAF]



The information presented on this site is provided for educational purposes. Self diagnosis and treatment, without due diligence, could be harmful and is not encouraged. Some information & images may be copyright. Every effort has been made to present the information in the spirit with which it was originally presented. Some data has been omitted for legal and/or practical consideration. There is some data not covered in the scope of this project, including, but not limited to, cell culture and large-dose animal studies. I have made comparisons and links between related species which may later prove erroneous. I have not verified the information for accuracy and I accept no responsibility for its authenticity. Many of the plants presented are poisonous, have poisonous properties, or could cause illness through misuse, allergic reaction, drug interactions and environmental contaminants. Please use caution and mindfulness when harvesting plants for any use.

Page last modified on 02-11-2016