Herb: Self Heal Herb

self-heal-herb-imgSelf Heal Herb

Self-heal (Prunella vulgaris ssp. lanceolata*) of the Mint (Lamiaceae) family is a perennial herb found in generally moist soils.  It occurs as a native species throughout the lower 48 states and Alaska. The specific epithet is from Latin for “common” as in “widespread.”  The subspecies name is from Latin, meaning “lance-like,” a reference to the leaf shape.  Other common names include lance-leaf self-heal and heal-all.  Self-heal grows well in various moist soils with full or partial sun in prairies, woodland borders, and roadsides.  It was widely used by Native Americans and early settlers for medicinal purposes and is still used as a medicinal herb today.

Self Heal, also known as ‘Heal-All’ or ‘Heart of the Earth’ by past herbalists, which sums up its essence in its various names. As one of the most universal flower essence remedies, Self Heal flower essence is an excellent way to begin most healing programs. It helps the Self get involved in the healing process.

Self Heal flower essence can be used to enhance the ability of other flower essences or other healing modalities in a person’s program for well being. It can be used for the simplest wounds, all the way up to life threatening or terminal diseases. It is especially beneficial for children or elderly that might consider themselves more vulnerable than the rest of the population.

This flower essence has been used world wide in animal shelters to help rescued animals from environmental or abusive trauma. It can be used when a puppy or kitten is taken away from the litter too early. In the garden, Self Heal flower essence can be used in the water can when transplanting a plant, or when a plant is diseased or under stress.

Fights Viruses Internally and Topically

For centuries, self-heal has been used to fight viruses and to treat fevers, sore throats, and other illnesses, according to traditional herbalists Deb Jackson and Karen Bergeron.  The herb can be:

  • Applied to the skin to treat surface wounds
  • Consumed fresh and whole
  • Made into a tea made from the dried flower heads

Now, modern medical studies have shown that self-heal has powerful antiviral effects.  Those effects are likely due to a compound called rosmarinic acid, according to medical researchers Chuen-lung Cheng and Hongxi Xu’s report in the Asian Journal of Traditional Medicines.

Extracts of self-heal have been clinically effective in controlling gingivitis in treating herpes infections.  Some laboratory studies even suggest it may be effective against HIV.

Helps Keep Blood Sugar in Check

One exciting study published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that extracts of self-heal significantly reduced blood glucose in laboratory rats.  For the study, the rats were put into a diabetic state and then treated with self-heal.

Interestingly, self-heal extract was even more effective when combined with glibenclamide, a popular anti-diabetic drug.  In fact, the self-heal and glibenclamide combination produced a stronger and longer-lasting benefit for reducing blood glucose levels than either substance used alone.

The researchers said that although more research is needed, self-heal shows tremendous potential for use in the treatment of diabetes.

Specific Research with Self Heal

The plant is still used extensively in Chinese herbal medicine, and recent research has suggested it may also have anti-mutagenic properties, indicating a possible treatment for certain cancers. Other studies have shown it to possess a wide variety of pharmacological effects, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, astringent, and antimicrobial.

A number of antiviral studies of P. vulgaris extracts have been carried out and compounds active against both HIV and Herpes Simplex Virus have been identified. In particular, a sulphated polysaccharide named prunellin was found to inhibit HIV-1 replication in vitro, as well as being able to arrest cell to cell transmission of the virus, with relatively low cytoxicity.

Experiments conducted on rats into its immunomodulatory effects demonstrated an inhibition of passive anaphylaxis activated by IgE antibodies, and also inhibition of histamine release from mast cells. Interestingly, it was also discovered that the immunomodulatory effects of P. vulgaris seemed to act synergistically with its anti-viral effects. These combined properties suggest that it has great potential as a treatment for both viral infections and immunological disorders.

Studies to Check Out

Cheng C and Xu H. Antiviral and Immunomodulatory Properties of Prunella vulgaris. Asian Journal of Traditional Medicines. 2006 Vol. 1 Edition 1:45-48.

Chui LC, Zhu W, and Ooi VE. A polysaccharide fraction from medicinal herb Prunella vulgaris downregulates the expression of herpes simplex virus antigen in Vero cells. Journal of Ethnopharmacol. 2004 Jul;93(1):63-8.

Fang X, Chang RC, Yuen WH, and Zee SY. Immune modulatory effects of Prunella vulgaris L. International Journal of Molecular Medicine. 2005 Mar;15(3):491-6.

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