Peppering hedgerows and lawns alongside dandelions and the other wildflowers that make a showing from late Spring through to summer, and whilst it might not look like much, self-heal is not a plant to be ignored.
As the name suggests, this wild little herb packs a serious punch when it comes to medicinal use.
Self-heal, also known as heal-all, woundwort, heart-of-the-earth or prunella (if you want to be scientific about it) is a wildflower native to the UK and is part of the mint family. It's packed with vitamins and antioxidants and has been used for centuries for everything from cuts, burns and scrapes through to anti-inflammatory and even to help with liver complaints, so it really has earned the name.
So how to use it?
The whole plant is edible, best used when it's young and tender, and can be eaten either raw or cooked. Taste wise, it's pretty inoffensive - think a bit of lettuce, so you can use it in salads or steep it in hot water with some honey to help with things like fevers, inflammation and sore throats.
You can also use it externally for small cuts and scrapes, bruises, burns and troublesome skin flare ups by making a salve or tincture:
First dry out your self heal leaves and stems by either hanging them to dry out naturally or bake them in a low oven (low as it can go) for a few hours.
You can then make an infusion by steeping the dried self-heal in a cup of olive oil over a bain marie for 2 to 3 hours.
Once the oil is infused, combine 1 tbsp beeswax pastilles (you can find this online or at health food shows) and melt together. Once melted, pour into jars or tins and allow to cool before covering with a lid and it's ready to use!
As with the salve, start by drying out your herbs. Then simply add to a good quality vodka at a ratio of 1:2 and allow to steep for 4 to 6 weeks before straining and using.