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When Prune-Hilda of the North has Been!



Self - Heal: (Varieties: P. vulgaris, P. rubrifolia ,also found as P. vulgaris var. leucantha Schur)

In the old days, Prunelle, or Self-Heal, as I choose to call it, was always a trusted and admired lawn cover. We transplanted small plants of the deep purple-flowering, horehound-scented herb into our lawns and shaded bed areas.

In a couple of years, a tough mat of the herb covered two yards or so of the lawn.
After twenty years, one would hear the old codgers mumbling about "gettin' some of that lawn cover out of the lawn before it's too late"!

It is a plant which, though it definitely looks like an herb, grows ten to fifteen inches high with about twenty attractive flowers per plant. When mowed, its deep purple flowers adapt to the height at a quarter of their length.

After the plant has finished flowering, if it is left unmowed to be itself, Prunella turns a warm brown. Its flowers, which stem from a tender brown cone ,fall off the cone which dries and turns a chestnutty - red-brown colour.

If one picks the cones for medicine, they are harvested when the flowers are fresh.


Prunella is like Bugleweed, a paler version having mauve flowers on a small green cone, and was, in fact, used with Bugleweed for some remedies.
A Modern Herbal states that the chemical principles in Bugleweed and Self-heal "resemble those of other Labiate herbs".

The old Culpepper says: "If it be combined with Bugle, Sanicle and other like wound herbs, it will be more effectual to wash and inject into ulcers in the parts is an especial remedy for all green wounds to close the lips of them and to keep the place from further inconveniences".

You know, I am lazy sometimes - this summer I could have made some tincture or infusion of Woundwort (Self-Heal) and have washed my poor heel with it. I cut it quite dangerously on the screen door. It took six weeks to heal, even with antibiotics taken per os.

(Per os means a medicine is taken in by mouth, and it is a Med term).

I have never heard of "quinsy" in my life, and when I used Self-heal, it was as a tonic herb.

I picked some twenty cones and dried them.
It is said that French cooks commonly use Self-Heal cones in soups and stews in the Winter. It's free- so pack that healthful "je ne sais quoi" into nourishing, steaming foods.

It does not taint the soup with strong taste, but you know it is there, its tonic quality giving you strength against Prune - Hilda, the wicked frost-hag of the North.

I was surprised to read that I could always have healed my mouth when it became ulcerated; when I was a young woman, I loved to munch on tomatoes since I had heard they were a fruit. I often overdid this, and suffered from stinging ulcers of the tongue and mouth.

A tea of Self-heal with honey is the very thing. I realize so few people dare to try these remedies, but our ancestors stayed healthy even if they hadn't the money for the apothecarys' prescriptions.

As I matured, with a young son to support, I became very interested in what Nature provided free of charge.

 If an unobtrusive herb offered some protection from the witch called disease, I gratefully thanked my version of that Namelessly Bountiful Eternity and stayed alive.

Personally, I am the cough syrup and "nip 'o brandy" type when a sore throat inconveniences my person.

I made a cough syrup once with Aztec Sweet herb, and added an Herbal Liqueur, after the herb in wine syrup had cooled. I found that fresh herb medicine could be not only more effective than some commercial brands of cough syrup, but that my fresh herbs and liqueur tasted heavenly by comparison to the ammonia - harsh prune-lips commercial brands.

I have always hated the taste of cough syrup- a necessary evil. Prunella may be made into a tonic syrup.

If humility is always the Mother of Invention, I would be seriously afflicted with the lack of experience necessary to further put this good herb to use. Self-heal was used as an injection for internal bleeding or for piles.
I recommend that you do not try for this old-fashioned cure without a good-humoured friend in Pharmaceuticals to guide you.

Your good-humoured friend will say "none of it" and direct you to the shelf pharmaceuticals, pronto!

I don't think I would go so far as to attempt an herbal hemmhorhoid recipe, either*. One cannot control the chemicals and insect visits to home-grown or wild herbs and the idea of toxic shock up the yahooza does not appeal. still, be prepared for the wild. If this is all you have - use it!

*So far, I have one exception, and that is to soak in a tub filled with a teapot full of Cinquefoil, which assists in preventing itching and bleeding.

One of the things I always have enjoyed about ol' Winter is the sparkly February day that I devote herb stalks and leavings to the elements, by burning them outdoors.

I say my kind prayers and will the aura of my gardens' traff to the Gods. Including a few Self-Heal flowers in a devotional like this would not hurt, to strengthen the aura of Healing sent through the cold air.

It is not too important an herb, but give a guy his "blonde" and "brunelle" of a winters' frosty eve, and he will be your hale and hearty mate.

One of the first songs I learned in French was a drinking song, of course:

"Aupres de ma blonde,

Qu'il fait bon, fait bon, fait bon,

Aupres de ma blonde,

Qu'il fait bon dormir"

Ma blonde, besides meaning "my blonde", or the broad of his dreams, was used as a nickname for beer!

Guys, how about,

"Aupres de ma Brunelle "?



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