Prunella vulgaris – Self-heal, Heart of the Earth

You will find this herb in the field, amongst all the other wild spring greens. Prefers a wet habitat and is easy to spot in summer when it’s flowering. I have found it wonderful for reducing heat, inflammation, and clearing toxins. A specific liver fire remedy, known as Xia ku cao in Oriental pharmacy. Antiviral especially against herpes simplex virus, immunomodulating, and vulnerary.

Family: Lamiaceae

Qualities: mild herb, a bit bitter, astringent, pungent, cold, and dry. Calming and restorative.

Organs | meridians: liver, stomach, gallbladder, lungs.

Direction of action:  sinks Liver yang

Site of action: Head and eyes

Actions/Indications: Cools heat

  • Headache and dizziness 
  • Drains fire
  • Red, painful, and swollen eyes, photophobia, and lacrimation which becomes worse in the evening
  • Disperses nodules and dissolves stasis
  • Clumps and nodules, scrofula, lymphatic swellings, lipomas of the head, neck, ear breast, or inguinum (phlegm-fire in the Liver)
  • Brightens the eyes
  • Red, painful, and swollen eyes, eye problems, which become worse in the evening
  • Transforms and channels phlegm
  • Phlegm nodules, in the neck, ear, or breast
  • Tonifies blood
  • Visual disturbances, photophobia, lacrimation, headache
  • Moves and regulates qi
  • Moves the Liver qi, treats hypertension, glaucoma, eye pain, and worse at night.

Physiological/pharmacological effects: The related western herb Prunella treats inflammations of various types including sores in the mouth and pharynx, gastroenteritis, diarrhea, bleeding, and gynecological complaints. Antihypertensive, antibiotic ( Shingella, Salmonella typhi, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, tinea), stimulates the uterine and intestinal smooth  1.

Reference: 1. Dr med.Carl-Hermann Hempen, Dr. Med., Dr. Sc. Nat. Toni Fischer, in A Materia Medica for Chinese Medicine, 2009 2. The Energetics of Western Herbs Peter Holmes Vol. II