The prunella vulgaris has a long and storied history as one of the most approachable and useful self heal herb options. In fact, it is known by different local names across the world. These names include the heal all, self heal, woundwort, carpenter’s herb, blue curls, brownwort, and heart of the earth.
The name prunella was initially derived from the word brunella. Brunella was taken from the Germanic word for a throat inflammation. Historically, this plant was used to cure problems like throat inflammation.
Vulgaris comes from the word common, usual, or vulgar. It brings to mind just how approachable and easy this plant is to find.
Where and How to Find It
A perennial herb, it can be found growing naturally in Europe, Asia, North America, and most other temperate climates around the world. It is especially common in Ireland, where it can be found growing across the fields. Either way, this common plant is widely available and widely lauded for its healing properties.
The plant’s natural habitats include roadsides, home and local gardens, and on the edges of woodlands. All theses areas have environments with lots of natural light and air. They are also commonly found in places with waste, and typically grow in basic or neutral soil composition.
The whole plant varies largely in size, starting at 2 inches and stretching as high as 12 inches tall (between 5 and 30 centimeters in height). The leaves are shaped like a lance and are about 1 inch long, and narrow with sharp serrated edges and reddish tips.
The flowers grow in clusters and sit over a collar of shorter leaves. The whole flower is a tubular shape, with dark purple hoods on top. The bottom lip, or petal, is a lighter purple or white color.
The prunella usually blooms in summer, between July and August. However, its bloom time is strongly dependent on local climates and conditions. If you are looking for a specific bloom time, the best idea is to do a little research on when the prunella plant typically blooms in your region or climate.
The prunella vulgaris has been used throughout history as an accessible and useful plant to speed the healing process of the body. These properties carry over into modern uses as well.
Historical Medicine Use
Before modern medicine, the leaves of prunella plants were ground into a poultice and applied topical wounds. Healers believed the plant sped the healing process along, and encouraged the natural human body’s healing.
In the 16th Century, John Gerard, a herbalist, wrote The Herbal or General History of Plants: The Complete 1633 Edition. He wrote of the prunella plant that ‘there is no better wound herbe in the world.” He then went on to describe the plant, where it could be found, and how to prepare it for various illnesses.
In the 17th Century, the botanist Nicholas Culpeper wrote Culpeper’s Complete Herbal and English Physician.This text describes the prunella plant as the self-heal herb. In the book, he claims the plant can be used for internal bruising because it dissolves blood that has been congealed inside the body. He also says it can be used for external wounds to promote healing.
The plant continued to be widely used in medicine across the world up to World War II. It was used to staunch bleeding, and also worked internally to treat heart disease. In Chinese medicine, the prunella vulgaris is used for liver complaints, as a drug against cancer, and as a stimulant for the liver and gall bladder.
Today, herbalists, and others who use natural medicines, use prunella vulgaris for a variety of home treatments. You can make a decoction of prunella – a liquid from boiling the plant – to treat sore throats or internal bleeding.
It can also be used to combat allergic activity in the body, and as an anti-inflammatory. Some people use it as a mouthwash to treat most ulcers. Externally, you can apply this herb to treat burns, sores, and wounds.
The prunella vulgaris plant contains many different compounds. They include:
- oleanolic acid
- rosmarinic acid
- myristic acid
- linoleic acid
- betulinic acid
- and more.
Food and Edibility
This plant is highly edible. This quality extends its use beyond simple medicine for external and internal injuries. The leaves can be plucked and eaten immediately, and many cultures add them as a flavorful addition to food.
Historically, the Cherokee nation preferred to cook and eat baby leaves from this plant. Another native American tribe, the Nlaka’pamux, prepared a cold infusion drink made from the entire plant as a common beverage.
There are some strong reasons to include this plant in your food. Every part of it is rich with Vitamins C, K, and A. It also provides flavonoids and rutin. When you add prunella vulgaris to your diet, you increase your vitamin intake while also adding flavor to your meals.
Prunella Vulgaris Stands the Test of Time
The prunella vulgaris is amazingly accessible in almost every temperate climate around the world. It grows naturally across North America, Europe, and most of the Asian continent.
The plant has been used throughout history as one of the best herbs to encourage the body’s natural healing processes. No wonder it’s called the self heal herb.
Today, prunella vulgaris is making a comeback as an essential addition to medicine and diet due to its nutritious qualities and medicinal usefulness.
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