Prunella vulgaris

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Prunella vulgaris
Prunella vulgaris - harilik käbihein.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Prunella
Species: P. vulgaris
Binomial name
Prunella vulgaris

Prunella vulgaris (known as common self-heal or heal-all)[1] is an herbaceous plant in the genus Prunella.

Self-heal is edible: the young leaves and stems can be eaten raw in salads; the plant in whole can be boiled and eaten as a potherb; and the aerial parts of the plant can be powdered and brewed in a cold infusion to make a beverage.[citation needed]


Closeup of flowers

Prunella vulgaris grows 5 to 30 cm high[2] (2-12inches), with creeping, self-rooting, tough, square, reddish stems branching at leaf axis.[3]

The leaves are lance shaped, serrated, and reddish at tip, about 2.5 cm (1 inch) long and 1.5 cm (half an inch) broad, and growing in opposite pairs down the square stem.[3] Each leaf has 3-7 veins that shoot off of the middle vein to the margin. The stalks of the leaves are generally short, but can be up to 5 cm (2 inches) long.[4]

The flowers grow from a clublike, somewhat square, whirled cluster; immediately below this club are a pair of stalkless leaves standing out on either side like a collar. Flowers are two lipped and tubular. The top lip is a purple hood, and the bottom lip is often white; it has three lobes with the middle lobe being larger and fringed upwardly. Flowers bloom at different times depending on climate and other conditions, but mostly in summer (from June to August in the USA).[3]

Self-heal propagates both by seed and vegetatively by creeping stems that root at the nodes.[5]

Range and habitat[edit]

Heal-all is a perennial herb found throughout Europe, Asia and North America, as well as most temperate climates. Its origin seems to be European[citation needed], though it has been documented in other countries since before any history of travel[citation needed]. In the Republic of Ireland it is currently abundant in the west in the counties Galway and Clare, the southwest in Kerry, the south coast, and is also found around the central basin of Ireland[citation needed]. It is often found growing in moist areas, waste ground, grassland, woodland edges, and usually in basic and neutral soils.[3][6]


Leaf of P. vulgaris var lanceolata

Heal-all is edible, and can be used in salads, soups, stews, and boiled as a pot herb. The Cherokee cooked and ate the young leaves. The Nlaka'pamux drank a cold infusion of the whole plant as a common beverage.[7] The plant contains vitamins A, C, and K, as well as flavonoids and rutin.[8]


Self-heal is taken internally as a medicinal tea for sore throat, fever, diarrhoea, internal bleeding, and to alleviate liver and heart maladies. Topically, a poultice of the plant is applied to irritated skin, as from stinging nettle toxins. A poultice of self-heal also serves well as a disinfecting agent and is used to pack wounds in the absence of other wound-care material.[9][10] It was considered by the Chinese to "change the course of a chronic disease".[7] In the traditional Austrian medicine Prunella vulgaris herb has been used internally as tea for treatment of disorders of the respiratory tract and infections.[11]


The plant's active chemical constituents are betulinic acid, D-camphor, D-fenchone, cyanidin, delphinidin, hyperoside, manganese, lauric acid, oleanolic acid, rosmarinic acid, myristic acid, rutin, linoleic acid, ursolic acid, beta-sitosterol, lupeol, and tannins.[8][12][13][14]

In vitro studies have shown it to have an antibacterial action, inhibiting the growth of pseudomonas, Bacillus typhi, E. coli, Mycobacterium tuberculi.[15] It is also showing promise in research for AIDS,[16] and allergies.[17][18]


  1. ^ Other names include Lance Selfheal, Aleutian selfheal, Heal-all, Carpenter weed, Heart-of-the-earth, Blue Curls (generically) and Hook Heal. In Germany it is known as Kleine Braunelle; In Finland it is called Niittyhumala, and in Poland it is Glowienka pospolita.[citation needed]
  2. ^ Clapham, A.R., Tutin, T.G. and Warburg, E.F. 1968. Excursion Flora of the British Isles. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-04656-4[page needed]
  3. ^ a b c d "Conservation Plant Characteristics for Prunella vulgaris L. (common selfheal)". Plants Database. United States Department of Agriculture. 
  4. ^ Duke, James (2001). "Prunella vulgaris". Handbook of Edible Weeds. CRC. p. 158. ISBN 978-0-8493-2946-3. 
  5. ^ DiTomaso, Joseph M.; Healy, Evelyn A. (2007). Weeds of California and Other Western States, Volume 1. ANR. p. 884. ISBN 978-1-879906-69-3. 
  6. ^ Foster, Steven; Hobbs, Christopher (2002). "Self-heal, Heal-All". A Field Guide to Western Medicinal Plants and Herbs. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 231. ISBN 978-0-395-83806-8. 
  7. ^ a b Meuninck, Jim (2008). Medicinal Plants of North America: A Field Guide. Globe Pequot. p. 41. ISBN 978-0-7627-4298-1. 
  8. ^ a b Khare, C.P. (2007). Indian Medicinal Plants: An Illustrated Dictionary. Springer. p. 103. ISBN 978-0-387-70637-5. 
  9. ^ Ryu SY, Oak MH, Yoon SK, et al. (May 2000). "Anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory triterpenes from the herb of Prunella vulgaris". Planta Med. 66 (4): 358–60. doi:10.1055/s-2000-8531. PMID 10865455. 
  10. ^ Han EH, Choi JH, Hwang YP, et al. (January 2009). "Immunostimulatory activity of aqueous extract isolated from Prunella vulgaris". Food Chem. Toxicol. 47 (1): 62–9. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2008.10.010. PMID 18983886. 
  11. ^ Vogl S, Picker P, Mihaly-Bison J, et al. (June 2013). "Ethnopharmacological in vitro studies on Austria's folk medicine-An unexplored lore in vitro anti-inflammatory activities of 71 Austrian traditional herbal drugs". J Ethnopharmacol 149 (3): 750–71. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2013.06.007. PMC 3791396. PMID 23770053. 
  12. ^ Harrewijn, Paul; et al. (2001). Natural Terpenoids As Messengers: A Multidisciplinary Study of Their Production, Biological Functions, and Practical Applications. Springer. p. 347. ISBN 978-0-7923-6891-5. 
  13. ^ Duke, James A.; Beckstrom-Sternberg, Stephen M. (2001). Handbook of Medicinal Mints (Aromathematics): Phytochemicals and Biological Activities. CRC. p. 222. ISBN 978-0-8493-2724-7. 
  14. ^ Hoffman, Edward J. (1999). Cancer and the Search for Selective Biochemical Inhibitors. CRC. p. 472. ISBN 978-0-8493-9118-7. 
  15. ^ Fang X, Chang RC, Yuen WH, Zee SY (March 2005). "Immune modulatory effects of Prunella vulgaris L". Int. J. Mol. Med. 15 (3): 491–6. doi:10.3892/ijmm.15.3.491. PMID 15702244. 
  16. ^ Collins RA, Ng TB, Fong WP, Wan CC, Yeung HW (1997). "A comparison of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 inhibition by partially purified aqueous extracts of Chinese medicinal herbs". Life Sci. 60 (23): PL345–51. doi:10.1016/S0024-3205(97)00227-0. PMID 9180371. 
  17. ^ Shin TY, Kim YK, Kim HM (August 2001). "Inhibition of immediate-type allergic reactions by Prunella vulgaris in a murine model". Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol 23 (3): 423–35. doi:10.1081/IPH-100107341. PMID 11694032. 
  18. ^ Kageyama S, Kurokawa M, Shiraki K (March 2000). "Extract of Prunella vulgaris spikes inhibits HIV replication at reverse transcription in vitro and can be absorbed from intestine in vivo". Antivir. Chem. Chemother. 11 (2): 157–64. PMID 10819439.