At a time when antibiotic resistance is becoming a growing threat, I started to focus my mind on possible homeopathic alternatives. In this quest, I came across a plant remedy called 'Prunella Vulgaris', which is known in herbal medicine as 'Self Heal'. This name could not be more evocative in the context of its ability to go deep in the organism to address disease. It is a member of the Mint family of remedies and Mentha Piperata (peppermint) - the most quintessential in that constellation of nearly 30 remedies - shares similar affinities with Prunella Vulgaris, such as the head, lungs, skin, stomach and throat.
According to Robin Murphy's Nature's Materia Medica (1), Culpeper is quoted as calling this remedy 'another herb of Venus,.... whereby when you are hurt you may heal yourself; it is a special herb for inward and outward wounds'. An old German saying is also quoted - 'He needs neither physician nor surgeon that hath Self Heal and to help himself'.
Most of the information on this remedy I discovered in a link from Alternative Nature (2), where mention is made of Self Heal's properties as a herb. It is known to be:-
alterative (able to restore normal function),
anti-bacterial, (inhibiting the growth of pseudomonas (the most severe infections of which usually occur in hospitals), Bacillus typhi, E coli, and Mycobacteriium tuberculi - all entrenched states which supports its use as an alterative medicine internally and externally as an antibiotic and for hard to heal wounds and diseases:
antipyretic (able to reduce a fever),
carminative (expelling gas from the stomach or intestines to relieve flatulence or abdominal pain or distention),
stomachic (promoting the appetite or assisting digestion),
styptic (able to arrest bleeding) - can be combined with Millefolium Achillea and Thlaspi Bursa.Pastoris.
(Note in this context that Prunella Vulgaris should not be used with Warfarin or other blood thinners,
vermifuge (able to expel worms), and
vulnerary (used in the healing of wounds) - can be combined with Plantago Major.
As a medicinal tea, it can be taken internally in the treatment of diarrhoea, fevers, internal bleeding, sore mouth and throat, as well as weakness of the liver and heart.
According to a website offering herbal remedy advice (3), the name 'Prunella' comes from the German word for quinsy - a severe sore throat caused by an abscess on the tonsils - for which this remedy is said to be a cure. 'Vulgaris' means 'common' - indicating the ubiquitous nature of its growth.
This remedy can draw out infections, e.g. abscesses and boils (like the remedies - Hepar Sulph. and Silica). It acts on mouth and throat ulcers (like Mercurius Vivus), and seasonal allergies as well as insect bites. I question whether it could act on tics which have become an increasing threat with the rise of Lyme disease. It shows promise in research for endometriosis, herpes, cancer - especially oestrogen-dependent tumours, Aids, diabetes and many other maladies. By acting as a diuretic, it helps reduce high blood pressure. The flower, being purple in colour and of a bulbous shape, indicates the remedy's use in haemorrhoids (based on the Law of Similars).
After surgery when the immune system has been lowered, this remedy could be given to prevent infections slipping in. It could act after burns when the resistance has been reduced. Pressure sores could respond as well as infections of the urinary tract.
I have over the years gleaned much advice about plant-derived homeopathic remedies from herbal books and websites as an invaluable tool to gain insights into their depth and sphere of action. With Self Heal's ability to extend itself deeply into the organism and cover many types of infections, it could offer radical support as a possible replacement for antibiotics when :-
it is considered antibiotics need not be the first line of defence,
the patient is resistant to antibiotics,
viral infections occur (when antibiotics are contra-indicated).
So, this remedy may seem insignificant in its pattern of growth (according to the Doctrine of Signatures) but seems to have a widespread affinity with healing 21st century infections which are resistant to other formerly established methods of cure. Maybe, Prunella Vulgaris will become a polycrest of our times - i.e a plant which 'steps up' to match a major challenge of our age. As the herbalist Gerard said 'there is not a better wound herb in the world'.
(1) 'Nature's Materia Medica, Third Edition, Robin Murphy, M.D., Lotus Health Institute, November 2006.
Article title image by: Carl Axel Magnus Lindman [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons