Selfheal was once traditionally considered a great healer of wounds, hence the name and variants such as allheal, hockheal and woundwort.
Selfheal, prunella vulgaris, is a low-growing attractive little perennial plant used as a medicinal herb. It grows wild in fields and woods and on waste lands. The leaves are small, oblong and blunt-ended, and they grow closely in pairs up the stem, forming a rather dense spike. The lower parts of the stem have a reddish tinge. The attractive violet-coloured flowers stand out above the foliage, growing directly from the creeping roots; they bloom all summer long. The whole plant grows about 6 in (I 5 cm) high.
Selfheal can be propagated either by seed or by removing the rooted side shoots and planting them immediately. It will grow in any garden soil in sun or semi-shade. Sow the seed in April directly in the flowering position and thin out the seedlings, when large enough to handle, to a handspan apart. The little plants soon spread and selfheal is a good ground cover plant.
The leaves, stems and flowers are used in herbal medicine and for drying, the plant is cut down when the flowers are open. The leaves and flowers can be stripped off the stems and are dried separately but they can be stored together in the usual way.
Selfheal is used as a good tonic herb, stimulating the appetite and generally toning and strengthening the whole system.
* To make an infusion: Pour 2 cups of boiling water on to 2 handfuls of the herb and leave to infuse for 10 minutes. Strain carefully and take a small glassful about 30 minutes before meals. Make a fresh infusion each time.
Selfheal infusion sweetened with honey can be taken warm for a relaxed throat and a sore mouth. At the same time the infusion should be used as a gargle for greater effect until relief is felt.
Selfheal can be combined with agrimony and wood betany in the infusion.
* To make a mixed herb infusion: Use equal quantities of the herbs with 5 cups of water and make as described above. The infusion can be sweetened with honey.
* The juice expressed from the fresh plant and mixed with a little lavender oil is a useful remedy for a headache when dabbed on the forehead and temples or used in the form of a compress.