The Benefits of Prunella Vulgaris

Health Benefits, Uses, Side Effects and More

Prunella Vulgaris
Roger Hyam Collection/Photolibrary/Getty Images

Prunella vulgaris is a natural substance long used in herbal medicine. Sometimes referred to as "self-heal" or "heal-all," this herb is widely available in supplement form. Touted as a natural remedy for a variety of health conditions, prunella vulgaris contains a number of anti-inflammatory compounds and vitamins (including vitamin C).

Uses for Prunella Vulgaris

In alternative medicine, prunella vulgaris is said to help treat or prevent the following health problems:

In addition, prunella vulgaris is purported to stimulate the immune system and strengthen the body's defense against cancer.

Benefits of Prunella Vulgaris

Although there is currently a lack of clinical trials testing the health effects of prunella vulgaris, some preliminary research suggests that it may offer certain health benefits. Here's a look at several key findings from the available studies on prunella vulgaris:

1)  Herpes

Prunella vulgaris may help fight herpes simplex virus 1 (or HSV-1, the virus that causes cold sores) and herpes simplex virus 2 (or HSV-2, the virus that causes genital herpes), according to a study published in Antiviral Research in 2007. In tests on cells in culture, researchers demonstrated that certain carbohydrates found in prunella vulgaris may help stop HSV-1 and HSV-2 from penetrating host cells.

2)  Diabetes

There's some evidence that prunella vulgaris may aid in the treatment of diabetes. In a 2007 study from the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, for instance, treating diabetic mice with prunella vulgaris appeared to increase the animals' insulin sensitivity.

Additionally, a 2012 study from the American Journal of Chinese Medicine found that treating diabetic mice with prunella vulgaris helped inhibit the development of atherosclerosis (a common problem for people with diabetes).

3)  Cancer

Several studies on human cells (including a 2011 report published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention) indicate that prunella vulgaris may help induce apoptosis (a type of programmed cell death essential for stopping the proliferation of cancer cells). However, there is currently a lack of scientific support for the claim that prunella vulgaris can treat or prevent cancer in humans.

Caveats

Due to a lack of research, little is known about the safety of regular use of prunella vulgaris.

It's important to keep in mind that supplements haven't been tested for safety and dietary supplements are largely unregulated. In some cases, the product may deliver doses that differ from the specified amount for each herb. In other cases, the product may be contaminated with other substances such as metals. Also, the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established. 

Learn more about using dietary supplements safely.

Alternatives 

A number of natural remedies may offer health effects similar to the purported benefits of prunella vulgaris. For instance, studies show that lysine, lemon balm, reishi, and resveratrol may help treat oral herpes (also known as cold sores).

Where to Find Prunella Vulgaris

Widely available for purchase online, prunella vulgaris is sold in many natural-foods stores, drugstores, and stores specializing in dietary supplements.

Using Prunella Vulgaris for Health

It's important to note that self-treating a chronic condition with prunella vulgaris and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences. If you're considering the use of prunella vulgaris in treatment of a chronic condition, make sure to consult your physician.

Sources

Fang X, Chang RC, Yuen WH, Zee SY. "Immune modulatory effects of Prunella vulgaris L." Int J Mol Med. 2005 Mar;15(3):491-6.

Feng L, Au-Yeung W, Xu YH, Wang SS, Zhu Q, Xiang P. "Oleanolic acid from Prunella Vulgaris L. induces SPC-A-1 cell line apoptosis via regulation of Bax, Bad and Bcl-2 expression." Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2011;12(2):403-8.

Feng L, Jia X, Zhu M, Chen Y, Shi F. "Chemoprevention by Prunella vulgaris L. extract of non-small cell lung cancer via promoting apoptosis and regulating the cell cycle." Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2010;11(5):1355-8.

Han EH, Choi JH, Hwang YP, Park HJ, Choi CY, Chung YC, Seo JK, Jeong HG. "Immunostimulatory activity of aqueous extract isolated from Prunella vulgaris." Food Chem Toxicol. 2009 Jan;47(1):62-9.

Hwang SM, Kim JS, Lee YJ, Yoon JJ, Lee SM, Kang DG, Lee HS. "Anti-diabetic atherosclerosis effect of Prunella vulgaris in db/db mice with type 2 diabetes." Am J Chin Med. 2012;40(5):937-51.

Kim SY, Kim SH, Shin HY, Lim JP, Chae BS, Park JS, Hong SG, Kim MS, Jo DG, Park WH, Shin TY. "Effects of Prunella vulgaris on mast cell-mediated allergic reaction and inflammatory cytokine production." Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2007 Jul;232(7):921-6.

Zhang Y, But PP, Ooi VE, Xu HX, Delaney GD, Lee SH, Lee SF. "Chemical properties, mode of action, and in vivo anti-herpes activities of a lignin-carbohydrate complex from Prunella vulgaris." Antiviral Res. 2007 Sep;75(3):242-9.

Zheng J, He J, Ji B, Li Y, Zhang X. "Antihyperglycemic activity of Prunella vulgaris L. in streptozotocin-induced diabetic mice." Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2007;16 Suppl 1:427-31.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

Continue Reading