Self-Heal (Prunella vulgaris)

Prunella is from the German brunella, quinsy, a severe form of tonsillitis, for which the plant was used, possibly because of its throat-shaped flowers. Known as Sicklewort and Hookweed, after the hook shaped upper lip of the flower, it was used for ‘ all green wounds to close the lip of them’, earning another name, Carpenter-herb, from its use in treating tool injuries. The Scots boiled it in milk and butter, dried it and stored it over the winter to treat chest ailments, calling it Heart o’ the earth. It was also popular in Wales in the 18th C. for colds and respiratory difficulties. To cure fevers in Irish children, the leaves were rubbed on temples to cure a headache, and finds uses as a general strengthener, a treatment for internal bleeding and piles, and a gargle for sore throats. A cold water infusion of the young leaves makes a refreshing beverage. The flowers and stems yield an olive green dye.