Copyright © 2007-2015 Foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, All Rights Reserved

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Self-Heal, An Herbal Remedy

Have you noticed this herb growing in your lawn or pasture? If so, you have the makings of a sore throat remedy close at hand. I was unfamiliar with self-heal until recently, but it's been used for sore throats, to staunch bleeding wounds, to treat heart disease, bruises and more for many years. It's properties are anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and anti-viral.  AND the plants supply vitamins C,  K and thiamine. 

Photos of self-heal courtesy of our daughter in Virginia.

The following excerpt is from
{self-heal, Perennial weed (Prunella vulgaris) in the mint family, native to North America and widespread throughout the continent. Growing 6–14 in. (14–36 cm) tall, self-heal is often a low weed in lawns. The often-prostrate branches root readily wherever they touch soil. Tiny, two-lipped, lilac-coloured or white flowers are clustered into noticeable dense, spikes. Leaves have sparsely toothed or smooth margins. Regarded in medieval times as a cure-all, the dried leaves and flowers are still brewed for soothing sore throats.}

Top view.
I first heard of self-heal earlier this year while reading a post by Mary Ann, who was born and raised in an Amish community. You can read the post at  A Joyful Chaos. She didn't know what it was called, but after seeing the picture at her site my daughter and I identified it as self-heal. 

Upright spike surrounded by whorls of tiny mouth shaped flowers. The leaves are sword-like. Stem may be 4-sided.
Although self-heal is widespread, I had searched our yard and pasture several times but couldn't find the plant on our property. (That'll be remedied as soon as possible.)

We were visiting our daughter in Virginia over the weekend and got an up-close look and a supply of it to have on hand for when the inevitable sore throat appears.

As it happens I'm trying it out today since I woke this morning with a sore throat. It does have a soothing effect on the throat, probably due to the tannin it contains.  I brewed about a tablespoon of the whole plant (dried) to make two cups of tea.  I added some raw honey and a squeeze of lemon for flavor, but self-heal is not bad tasting at all. It's in the mint family so it doesn't really taste like a weed. 

Self-heal is reported to diminish the length of time a sore throat sticks around. I'll let you know how mine does, but in any case,  I'm definitely adding self-heal to my herbal medicine chest. 

ETA: I drank a total of two cups of self-heal tea the day I woke with a sore throat. My throat felt better as the day went by. The next morning it was barely sore at all. Today is the third day, and I have no trace of soreness.  I believe I'd call self-heal a "sore throat tea", too, just as it was known to Mary Ann in the Amish community. 

See a physician in case of a serious sore throat.
I'm not a doctor - I just know a good thing when I try it, and it works for me.

                                     Linking to Wildcrafting Wednesday

                                        The Thankful HomeAcre Hop