- Prunella vulgaris L.
- Mint family
Parts Usually Used
The whole plant
Description of Plant(s) and Culture
Woundwort is a low perennial plant to 1 foot tall; the slender, creeping
rootstock produces ascending or procumbent stems which grow from 1-3
feet in height. These slightly hairy, square, grooved stems may be
solitary or in clusters. Entire or slightly toothed, the petioled,
opposite leaves are ovate to oblong-lanceolate in shape. Tubular and
two-lipped, the tiny purple flowers grow in dense terminal spikes,
blooming from May to October. The fruit is an ovoid, smooth, angled
Other varieties: P. grandiflora, also called self-heal, grows
to 1-1 1/2 feet tall, has much larger and showier purple or violet
flowers; P. laciniata, has creamy white, occasionally violet-tinged
flowers, and deeply cut leaves.
Grows as a very common weed in open woods, lawns, fields, and waste
places in the United States, Europe, and Asia.
Antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, bitter tonic, cholagogue,
diuretic, styptic, vermifuge, vulnerary
Ursolic acid, essential oil, bitter principle, oleanolic acid, rutin,
caffeic acid, hyperoside, vitamins A, C, B1, K and tannin
Legends, Myths and Stories
An old Italian proverb: "He that hath self-heal and sanicle needs
no other physician."
The plant yields fiber dyes in shades ranging from soft yellow to
Woundwort is a highly regarded European wound herb, widely used to
stop bleeding. In the past, the flower spikes were considered to resemble
the throat, and under the Doctrine of Signatures theory, whereby plants
cure those parts of the body that they most resemble, self-heal or
woundwort was also used for inflammations of the mouth and throat.
In Chinese medicine, the flower spikes are used, and are known as
xia ku cao, literally meaning "summer dry herb."
The leaves and young shoots are used by Western herbalists to stop
bleeding and applied fresh in poultices as emergency first aid on
clean cuts. Culpeper recommended them for "green" (fresh) wounds,
suggesting that they would be ideal to "close the lips of them" in
the days before stitches.
There are other plants that are called woundwort; Stachys palustris,
a cousin of the wood betony; and Stoneroot (Collinsonia canadensis)
also called Hardrock, Horse-weed, Heal-all, Rich-weed, Ox-balm, Knob-root,
also from the mint family, with greenish-yellow flowers of a peculiar
The tea of the plant helps heal internal wounds; as a wash or poultice,
for external wounds, bruises,
ulcers, and sores.
Used as a gargle for throat
irritations, cold mouthwash for bleeding
gums, including pharyngitis, and for stomatitis, canker
sores, and thrush. Useful for hemorrhage and diarrhea.
Excellent for convulsions and seizures, epilepsy, hepatitis, jaundice,
blood pressure, fluid retention, edema, fevers,
and will expel worms.
In China a tea made from the flowering plant is considered cooling,
and was used to treat the liver and aid in circulation; used for conjunctivitis,
boils, and scrofula; diuretic
for kidney ailments.
Research suggests the plant possesses antibiotic, hypotensive,
and antimutagenic qualities. Contains the antitumor and diuretic compound
Formulas or Dosages
Harvest the aerial parts before flowering time.
Infusion: 1 oz. of the herb in 1 pint of boiling water, cover
and let stand for 10 minutes, strain. Take 1 wineglassful several
times a day.
Extract: soak 1 tsp. herb in 1 pint brandy or whiskey for
a few days. Take 1 tbsp. a day or as needed.
Vitamins A, B1, C, K
Always seek medical professional advice for abnormal uterine bleeding,
bleeding gums, or blood in the urine.
Avoid use if hypertensive.