Prunella vulgaris – more commonly known as “Self-Heal” or “Heal-All” – is a widespread herbal remedy from the Mint family with a long history of medicinal use, and is now getting attention as a possible treatment for herpes.
But does it actually help treat herpes infection? And if so, how should you use it?
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Prunella vulgaris – a traditional healing remedy
Prunella vulgaris has been known throughout Europe, China and North America as a healing herb. It's traditionally been used as a poultice for wounds (stopping bleeding), or as an infusion used as a tea (for stomach and intestinal problems), or as a mouthwash to treat oral infections such as a sore throat, thrush, or a gum infection.
In Chinese medicine the flowers of Prunella vulgaris have their own special use - as a tonic for an “over-heated” liver and gall-bladder. Since these disorders are often associated with inflammatory conditions, especially of the eyes, Prunella vulgaris has also been used with good results as an eye-wash for conjuncivitis (but if you try this, make sure it is absolutely free of particles, by filtering it through coffee filter paper or similar).
In England Prunella vulgaris is so common that it is better known as a weed, which tireless gardeners work to eliminate from their lawns.
It's been used as an anti-inflammatory, and may have anti-allergy properties as well. It's also known as an immune stimulant.
And now there is well documented research evidence to back up these traditional healing uses.
Scientific studies support Prunella vulgaris as a healing plant
Laboratory research studies have shown that Prunella vulgaris has a definite anti-bacterial action, and also has powerful anti-viral effects as well.
It's effective constituents include volatile oils (eg camphor and fenchone), antioxidants (more rosmarinic acid than Rosemary), alkaloids, saponins, phenols, tannins, mucilage, glycoside (aucubin), caffeic and urosolic acids, flavonoids (rutin) and vitamins C, B1 & K.
Prunella vulgaris for herpes treatment
Several studies have shown that Prunella vulgaris has anti-viral action, and in the laboratory extracts have been shown to kill HIV and viral hepatitis as well as HSV-1 and HSV-2.... the Herpes simplex virus.
In a 2007 study, researchers found that the active ingredient in Prunella vulgaris was a "lignin-polysaccharide complex" that binds to the HSV virus and stops it from penetrating host cells.
As well as this specific anti-viral action, you get an extra bonus from the immune boosting function of Prunella vulgaris, which will help your body fight off the herpes infection.
How to use Prunella vulgaris for herpes
There are several ways you can use Prunella vulgaris, depending on what products you have available to you.
If you want to grow this as a herb to have on hand all the time, it's easy to find a seed supplier – or perhaps even your local garden supply store will have the plants, since it's becoming more popular in northern America as a hardy garden perennial.
You may also be able to find the dried herb at a local health store or online.
In either case, you can make an infusion of the leaves, and use it as a wash to help speed up healing of the herpes sores.
You can also take it as a tea, to boost your general immunity, and to stop the virus taking hold (highly recommended!)
A more convenient way to take Prunella vulgaris is as a tincture or liquid extract. Typically, you should take several drops in water up to 3 times per day. (The actual dose will depend on the strength of the extract, so you need to be guided by the supplier's recommendation).
With herbal tinctures, read the labels carefully, because there is a huge variation in strength and quality.
How safe is Prunella vulgaris?
It's generally accepted that Prunella vulgaris is one of the safest herbs you can find today – this study, among others, provides evidence as to its safety.
It's also one traditional remedy with many real, proven benefits, including strong anti-viral properties. It's rare to find a traditional herbal remedy that has been studied this thoroughly – and with such positive results.
So add Prunella vulgaris to your arsenal of effective treatments for herpes....
And if you do try it, please share your experiences in the comments below!
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Reference: Zhang Y, But PP, Ooi VE, Xu HX, Delaney GD, Lee SH, Lee SF. "Chemical properties, mode of action, and in vivo anti-herpes activities of a lignin-carbohydrate complex from Prunella vulgaris." Antiviral Res. 2007 Sep;75(3):242-9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17475343