Prunella vulgaris (Heal-all): The Antioxidant Herb Consumed by American Indians


Prunella vulgaris is an herbaceous plant in the genus Prunella and is often known by the name self-heal or heal-all. 

Heal-all is a perennial herb found throughout Europe, Asia and North America.  It has also been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine and is known as Xia Ku Cao.


Since Heal-all is edible, there are a wide variety of uses of the plant, including:

  • Young leaves and stems can be eaten raw in salads, soups and stews
  • The plant in whole can be boiled and eaten as a leafy vegetable
  • Aerial parts of the plant are powdered and brewed in a cold infusion to make a beverage

The American Indians have been known to consume Heal-All for many centuries.  The Cherokee tribe cooked and ate the young leaves. The Nlaka’pamux tribe from Washington and British Columbia drank a cold infusion of the whole plant.

The plant has a wide range of chemical constituents, including:  1  2  3 

  • beta-sitosterol
  • betulinic acid
  • cyanidin
  • D-camphor
  • delphinidin
  • D-fenchone
  • hyperoside
  • lauric acid
  • linoleic acid
  • lupeol
  • manganese
  • myristic acid
  • oleanolic acid
  • rosmarinic acid
  • rutin
  • tannins
  • ursolic acid
  • vitamin A
  • vitamin C
  • vitamin K

Heal-all has very potent antioxidant activities.  The antioxidative activity was due partly in relation to the rosmarinic acid content.  In fact, Heal-all has 6.1% rosmarinic acid based on dry weight.  4  Heal-all probably has more rosmarinic acid than any other plant by dry weight. 

Heal-all also has been studied for its ability to inhibit the growth and metastasis of Melanoma cells.  5  The oral administrations of Heal-all reduced the lung metastasis and tumor cell growth by B16-F10 or B16-F1 melanoma cells. These results suggested that the anti-metastatic effect of Heal-all is mediated through the suppression of MMP-9 expression by the inhibition of NF-kappaB via ERK1/2 signaling pathway as well as MMP-9 activity.

In 2009, a study was conducted that exhibited significant antiestrogenic properties, both in vitro and in vivo, in Heal-all. This activity is likely due to the ability of Heal-all-activated AHR to interfere with estrogen. This herb may be useful as an adjunct for the treatment of estrogen-dependent processes like endometriosis and breast and uterine cancers. Full characterization of this herb will likely provide new insights into the crosstalk between AHR and ESR1, with potential for therapeutic applications in women.   6 

Informational Reference:

Prunella vulgaris L. : A Literature Review on its Therapeutic Potentials, Rafia Rasool and Bashir A. Ganai

Resources: – Xia Ku Cao

Heal All(Prunella Vulgaris/Woundwort) 8oz/BP

Stakich All Heal (Prunella Vulgaris) 4 oz Liquid Extract

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