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Prunella vulgaris
Family: Lamiacae (lay-mee-AY-see-ay) The Mint family (from Lamium, the Latin
name for dead nettle; used for the Mint family); formerly Labitae. The family is
noted for its fragrant oils (lavender, rosemary, mint, horehound, thyme etc).
Genus: Prunella (proo-NELL-uh) Linnaeus misspelling of Brunella (German
name for Quinsey for which it was used as cure). It is also in reference to
making a person stronger.
Species: vulgaris (vul-GAIR-iss) Means common
Self-heal is a mint used everywhere on earth for its healing properties. It is
also called Selfheal, Heal All, ground-hog plantain, square weed.
The stems grow +40cm tall, erect (or rarely
creeping), 4- minutely winged angles, glabrous and
The leaves are opposite, lance to ovate shaped, +/6cm long and 2cm wide, entire or with small teeth,
petiolate (+3cm), long at base of plant, reduced
above and winged on upper leaves.
The inflorescence occurs in terminal dense 4angled spikes each with 6 flowers(3 flowers per
The whitish purple flowers are 6-7mm long and
5mm broad. The lower lip is 3-lobed. There are
four stamens and 2 lobed stigmas. It flowers from
May to September.
It is native to Europe, Asia, and North America.
This plant spreads by underground stems that shoot out in every direction
stronger than an ox.
In parts of the world the spring growth is collected and made into a tonic or used as
a spinach substitute. Historically it has been used to fight infectious diseases, fevers
and rheumatism, assist liver function, treat swollen glands and clear the eyes.
In addition, in Europe it was used as a headache treatment and to fight infections in
the mouth and tongue. The gypsies of Eastern Europe used it as an ingredient in
their medicine show tonics which they claimed would cure anything.
It is thought to be an immunity booster, an antibiotic.
In colonial North America, self-heal was used to heal anything and everything. From
sore throats to killing worms, to urinary and liver problems. Its main use was as a
In New Zealand the ground plant is applied to cuts, wounds, bruises, and sores that
won’t heal.
To harvest self-heal, it must be cut about 3 cm form the ground as it begins to bloom.
Research into its effects on the heart, and blood pressure continue.
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