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This image of Self-Heal comes the first edition of De historia stirpium commentarii insignes, a book produced by Leonhart Fuchs in 1542 and one of the most celebrated herbals from the sixteenth century. It features over 500 woodcut illustrations, all of them hand colored. This book is available from the John R. Martin Rare Book Room in Hardin Library.

Self-Heal(Prunella vulgaris)

Prunella vulgaris, a perennial herb in the Mint family is found across the Northern Hemisphere, including East Asian countries, such as China, Korea, and Japan (Namgung et al., 2017), where it is widely used to treat urinary diseases, scrofula, abscess, and hypertension (Bai et al., 2016). One study has indicated that extracts of P. vulgaris mixed with extracts of Macleya cordata were efficient in controlling gingivitis (Adamkova, Vicar, Palasova, Ulrichova, & Simanek, 2004).  Studies conducted at the University of Iowa have provided some evidence that P.vulgaris has profound anti-viral activity against the equine infectious anemia virus (Brindley et al., 2009) and aqueous extracts of P. vulgaris inhibited HIV-1 infectivity (Oh et al., 2011). 

Historical Use

John Gerard’s The Herball, first published in 1597, includes historical information on the use of Self Heal. Also known as Prunell, Self-heal was mixed with wine or water to treat internal or external wounds. Mixed with oil and vinegar, it was placed on the forehead to alleviate pain. 

Latest Research


Adamkova, H., Vicar, J., Palasova, J., Ulrichova, J., & Simanek, V. (2004). Macleya cordata and Prunella vulgaris in oral hygiene products – their efficacy in the control of gingivitis. Biomedical Papers of the Medical Faculty of the University Palacky, Olomouc, Czechoslovakia, 148(1), 103-105.  

Bai, Y., Xia, B., Xie, W., Zhou, Y., Xie, J., Li, H., . . . Li, C. (2016). Phytochemistry and pharmacological activities of the genus Prunella. Food Chemistry, 204, 483-496. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2016.02.047 

Brindley, M. A., Widrlechner, M. P., McCoy, J. A., Murphy, P., Hauck, C., Rizshsky, L., . . . Maury, W. (2009). Inhibition of lentivirus replication by aqueous extracts of Prunella vulgaris. Virology Journal, 6, 8. doi:10.1186/1743-422x-6-8 

Namgung, S., Yoon, J. J., Yoon, C. S., Han, B. H., Choi, E. S., Oh, H., . . . Lee, H. S. (2017). Prunella vulgaris Attenuates Diabetic Renal Injury by Suppressing Glomerular Fibrosis and Inflammation. American Journal of Chinese Medicine, 45(3), 475-495. doi:10.1142/s0192415x1750029x 

Oh, C., Price, J., Brindley, M. A., Widrlechner, M. P., Qu, L., McCoy, J. A., . . . Maury, W. (2011). Inhibition of HIV-1 infection by aqueous extracts of Prunella vulgaris L. Virology Journal, 8, 188. doi:10.1186/1743-422x-8-188 

Other Resources

Natural Medicines record: Self Heal (Access to UI only)