Herbs & Botanicals
Prunella (xia ku cao)
What is prunella? What is it used for?
Prunella is the name given to a small yet hearty herb found throughout
Europe, Asia and other temperate regions. The plant goes by a variety
of names, including self-heal, carpenters weed and sicklewort. It
consists of an extremely thin stem that reaches a height of up to 18 inches,
with dark, reddish leaves and blue-violet or bluish-brown flowers. The
flowering part of the plant is used medicinally.
The active ingredients in prunella include flavonoids, tannins, saponins
and triterpenes. Traditionally, it has been used to treat inflammatory
diseases and ulcers in the mouth and throat. In Europe, it is also used
as a remedy for diarrhea, hemorrhaging and gynecological disorders.
How much prunella should I take?
A prunella tea can be made by steeping the plant in water (at a recommended
dose of one teaspoon of prunella per cup of boiling water). Some practitioners
also recommend using a prunella extract in a water-based solution for
What forms of prunella are available?
Prunella is available as either a fresh cut or dried herb. Many specialty
stores also sell prunella extracts.
What can happen if I take too much prunella?
Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should
As of this writing, there are no reports of side-effects or adverse reactions
associated with prunella. In addition, there are no known drug interactions
with prunella. Nevertheless, it should not be taken by women who are pregnant
or lactating. Patients with high blood pressure or heart disease should
consult with their health care professional before taking prunella supplements.
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