Lamiaceae Labiatae Deadnettle family

Description: A creeping perennial with downy leaves and violet flowers, reaching up to a foot tall.

Habitat: Lawns, meadows, and woods.

Distribution: Found virtually worldwide in temperate areas. Widespread in North America.

Related species: Cutleaved self-heal (P. laciniata) has creamy white flowers and is found on dry lime soils.

Parts used: Flowers and leaves, dry flower spikes.

To be short, it serveth for the same that Bugle [Ajuga reptans] doth, and in the world there are not two better wound herbs, as hath bin often proved.

... the Proverbe of the Germans, French and others,... is no lesse verified ... that he needeth neither Physition nor Chirugion, that hath Selfeheale and Sanicle [Sanicula europeaea] by him to helpe himselfe.

- Parkinson (1640)

Recent studies have shown self-heal to be an effective remedy for herpes. If we look back at the old herbals, we see this is not new. In 1640, John Parkinson wrote that self-heal "juice mixed with a little Hony of Roses, clenseth and healeth all ulcers and sores in the mouth and throate, and those also in the secret parts." We know today that both roses and self-heal have antiviral properties.

Self-heal is a good remedy for flu and fevers because it combines cooling, immune-stimulating, and antiviral qualities. It has been found to be effective against a broad range of bacteria, including Mycobacterium tuberculi, which causes tuberculosis.

The old use for goitre ties in with American herbalist James Duke's research on self-heal. He found it to be among the most effective herbs for hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), which often leads to a goitre formation. He has also confirmed that self-heal treats Graves' disease and other hyperactive thyroid conditions. This means its effect is amphoteric, that is, it normalizes function by stimulating an underactive gland or reducing overactivity.

Self-heal is high on Duke's list of plants with marked antioxidant activity. Studies show that self-heal has strong immune-stimulatory effects, and calms inflammatory and allergic responses. In preventing viruses from replicating, it shows promise in the treatment of AIDS. It is also used for diabetes and high blood pressure.

Self-heal ready for picking: in European medicine (left); in Chinese medicine (right).

Self-heal tea

For tea, we prefer to harvest the flower spikes when they have finished flowering and are turning brown, drying naturally on the plant. You can shake out any ripe seeds to sow, ensuring a supply of plants for the years ahead.

Use about two flower spikes per mug of boiling water and infuse for 5 to 10 minutes. Drink freely. For hot flashes, it is best drunk cool. It can be used as a mouthwash and gargle for mouth ulcers and sore throats.

Self-heal infused oil

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