Creeping perennial, growing to 20 in (50 cm) tall, with pointed oval leaves and violet-blue or pink flowers.
Habitat & Cultivation
Native to Europe and Asia, self-heal can be found in temperate regions worldwide. It is a wayside plant, growing in meadows and by roadsides, and thrives in sunny areas. Rarely cultivated, self-heal can easily be grown from seed or by root division. The aerial parts are picked in summer when in flower.
Self-heal contains entacyclic triterpenes, tannins, caffeic and rosmarinic acids, and vitamins B1, C, and K.
History & Folklore
As its name indicates, self-heal has been used for centuries to staunch bleeding and heal wounds. The 17th-century herbalist John Gerard wrote: “there is not a better wounde herbe in the world than that of selfe-heale.”
Medicinal Actions & Uses
Self-heal is an undervalued astringent and wound-healer withtonic activity. In common with other members of the mint family, such as rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) and sage (Salvia spp.), it has powerful antioxidant and tissue-protective activity—making it potentially of value inmany chronic illnesses.
Its antioxidant and astringent activity makes it beneficial in conditions such as sore throat, inflammatory bowel disease, and diarrhea,and to heal internal bleeding. Externally, a lotion can be applied to treat leukorrhea (vaginal discharge). In Chinese medicine, self-heal is taken with juhua (Chrysanthemum x morifolium) for fevers, headaches, dizziness, and vertigo,and is thought to cool “liver fire.”