Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Margaret Dean
Posted on: June 2, 1998

I went to a local herb festival last weekend and purchased a plant called "heal all" or "self heal plant". I purchased it thinking it was somewhat like comfrey. What can you tell me about this plant? (The lady I purchased it from buys a lot of her seeds for herbs from you.)

The plant has been reknowned for its healing properties. Several common names it is known by are variations on the theme of healing.

We list it as "allheal" in our catalogue. The botanical name is Prunella vulgaris. It is a perennial, hardy to zones 4-9. It grows easily in moist, well-drained soil in full or partial sun, reaching 50 cm (20 inches) high and spreading in mats. It is easy to grow from seeds, and can be propagated by division.

Originally from Eurasia, it has become naturalized in many parts of North America, growing along edges of woods and along paths.

Traditionally, the plant has been regarded as an all purpose wound herb. The fresh leaves can be applied directly to sores, burns, bruises, inflammations, and hemorrhoids. Internally, it is used for hemorrhage and excessive menstruation.

With its all round usefulness for wound healing, allheal resembles comfrey in usage, but its action is different. Comfrey’s soothing mucilagious gel and its hormone-like cell proliferant, allantoin, promote rapid healing while allheal works through its astringent and antibacterial properties.

Allheal has been used used in Chinese medicine for over 2000 years. Called "Xia Ku Cao", it is used to treat headaches, high blood pressure, hyperactivity in children, among other conditions.

Extracts of the plant have been shown to prevent infection of cells by the HIV virus that causes AIDS.

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