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Self-Heal: Heal All

Updated on January 30, 2018
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Kim is a Master Gardener from Montana and has been wild harvesting and growing fruits and vegetables for home use most of her life.

Allheal (Prunella vulgaris)
Allheal (Prunella vulgaris) | Source

Introducing the Amazing Allheal

Allheal, Self-Heal, whichever you want call it, it's Latin name is Prunella vulgaris, and it is an amazing little plant. As its name suggests, it is reputed to heal everything...or, almost everything. The list of ailments allheal has been employed for is too large to list, but one infliction stood out for me and I had to try this plant.

Herpes simplex virus type 1. Yuck. Gross. Ewwwwwww......also known as a coldsore or a fever blister. An unsightly crusty that forms on or near the mouth. Millions of people are afflicted with this reoccurring eyesore, so it's nothing to be ashamed about, but a flare up can be annoying. I used to reach for the Carmex™, but not anymore.

Allheal is also employed as a pleasing tea, and is perfectly safe. It has a safety rating of GRAS, which stands for Generally Recognized as Safe. This is great news, at least for me. It means I dont have to fuss about amounts or measures or worry about whether or not I can give it to my children.

In folklore...Allheal was grown to keep evil away and used to promote emotional and physical healing. Hmmmm...

Allheal Flowers
Allheal Flowers | Source

You will need

Potting soil / Potting mix



Saran Wrap



Growing Allheal

Allheal was one of the first unorthodox herb I decided to grow and is included in my 500 plants quest. Finding seed for some plants though, can be challenging. Especially when you are trying to grow things that fell out of use a hundred or so years ago and no one has heard of unless they've been casting healing spells.

I found seed from a website called Sand Mountain Herbs. When I stumbled upon his little website I was elated. His catalog had a lot of seed for plants I wished to grow and he was meticulous in using Latin, which for my purpose, was very important. I wanted a specific species and he had it.

We learn as we go...I prefer to start everything from seed. I want to watch it, see it, and document it from start to finish. I want to know it, so when I stumble upon it in a garden or in the wild I will recognize it. I ordered my seeds and made plans.

My ideal method of starting seed for the first time is to keep it where I won't easily forget it and where I can watch its growth. I like the small terracota pots. They fit perfectly on most windowsills. They are usually inexpensive and if something I start ends up needing transplanted they break easily, avoiding root damage.

Allheal isnt really picky about soil as long as it retains moisture. I used a mixture of potting mix with a dash of sand, about 3/4: 1/4. Adding sand to your soil mixtures aids drainage, and if your sand is local, offers your plant important vitamins and minerals.

Sand: I dont bake my sand. Some diehard gardeners do, but I dont. Baking your local sand or dirt kills micro-organisms!!!! Yes...and bugs, fungus, bacteria...all of those things live in the soil. When you transplant something outside, they will be exposed to those things again. It's inevitable. And we want the micro-organisms to be alive...

Fill your pot with soil and then water well. I place my pot in a small bucket to avoid overflow and a messy kitchen. Turns out you also dont want to fill your septic system with dirt either. I also use the kitchen sprayer so I can water well and evenly. The soil will sink. Add more soil to the pot and water it again. Keep doing this until your soil is an inch to the top of the pot. Sprinkle a few seeds on top of the soil, and water one last time.

Stretch a piece of saran wrap over your pot and use a large rubber band to hold in place. Place your pot in a sunny window and wait. You should see babies within a few days. When you have two leaves, lift the saran wrap to allow damping off. Check the soil daily and keep moist but not wet. Do not allow to dry out.

Allheal is a perennial and is zoned 4-9. It prefers a sunny position that is not too hot. In the wild she is found growing on the banks of creeks and streams where there is good sun and moist but not wet conditions. She prefers cool roots. It's a low growing plant and rarely gets over 6" tall when in flower. Her flower is purple and kinda cone shaped.

In the garden she makes a useful groundcover for moist or well watered areas. She looks very nice planted along edges and walkways. This is an excellent choice for a water garden or pond.

Allheal does attract wildlife, like deer. When in flower I would watch bambi graze the edges of my garden nipping off each flower cone as she went. If you decide to add allheal to the garden in hopes to harvest your own, take care to beat bambi to the flowers.

Allheal in Situ
Allheal in Situ | Source

Practical uses

Allheal has more uses than just coldsores. Spring greens have been consumed raw or steamed and her flowers to flavor tea and medicines. I have yet to try the raw plant, but I can attest to the tea. It is pleasing, not bitter, and we add the flowers to various flower blends as we go.

In North America, Native Americans gathered the plant for use in the bath to reduce bruising and a cold wash prepared for burns.

Harvest when in flower and dry. Store in an airtight container away from heat or light and label. Drying times will vary, so start at 95* for a few hours then check them. Make sure your herbal material is completely dry before storing. Any moisture left in the plant could cause your whole batch to mold in storage.

I really love this herb. Her simplicity, I think, is what makes her special. She tastes good too, so there is that. She is not invasive, she doesn't demand any extra special care, and she is purple. I love purple.

Thanks for stopping by today. I hope you discovered something new. If you have something to add please do so in the comments below. Questions? Those too!

As always...happy gardening!

© 2018 Kim French


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