Ahhhh, Prunella! It’s hard to say that name without accenting it as it’s such a melodical name. So lovely in fact that I prefer to call her by this name instead of the common names of Heal All, All Heal or Self Heal. Prunella vulgaris is her full botanical name; vulgaris was the name given to plants that were commonly used and means “common.” Her common names shed light on how useful the eclectics found her to be though. With a name like that, there’s quite a reputation to uphold!
And indeed, Prunella is very useful. Though she has fallen out of favoritism and hardly gets a mention in modern herbal books, her medicinal use is still there.
Medicinally she is used as an alterative, antibacterial, antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, antimutagenic, antioxidant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antiviral, astringent, bitter, carminative, cholagogue, diuretic, febrifuge, hemostatic, hypotensive, immune stimulant, liver stimulant, stomachic, tonic, vasodilator, vermifuge and vulnerary.
Prunella tastes bitter, pungent and sweet. She is cold and drying and should be avoided by those who tend to run cold and dry in constitution.
She contains vitamins A, B1, C and K as well as manganese and zinc.
This month we explore all these uses and find ways to use Prunella in our everyday medicine chest. She truly is an all purpose herb to have on hand.
Prunella has a playful side as well. She makes a lovely dye material and as she grows abundantly wherever she grows, there’s always plenty to go around for both medicine and dye. Exploring plant dyes is a hobby of mine and we always look forward to finding new plants to work with. When I learned Prunella would cast off a shade of green, I was ready to try her out!There is a bit of prep required to help the color come out and be colorfast but it’s easy enough to do! Begin by scouring your fabric which is the dyer’s term for cleansing the materials. It’s important to make sure your dye materials are clean, especially if you are dyeing unprocessed wool which will still have the natural oils covering it. These natural oils will block the dye.
After cleaning the materials, you will need to premordant them with Alum. Alum can be purchased at your grocery store in the spices section. To do this, place 1 teaspoon of alum in a stock pot of water. Add the fabric, put on the stove over low heat and let simmer for 1 hour. Turn off the heat and let sit until cool then pour off the liquid. This step can be done right before dyeing or a couple days in advance.
To start your dye pot, add 4 oz of Prunella for every pound of items you’ll be dyeing.
Place the prunella in the pot and cover with the items to be dyed.
Add water until the dye bath covers the wool or silk.
Return to the stove and heat to simmering. Hold the simmer for 1 hour, turn off the heat, cover the pot and let sit for 8 hours.
After 8 hours, separate your dye materials from the Prunella. Rinse in cool water until the water runs clear. Hang your items to dry.
Here’s a list of what you’ll need for this project:
Play silks or wool (fabric, roving, yarn)
Prunella flowers and stems
Stainless steel pot
Mild dish soap such as Ecover or Dawn (for washing wool)
You can use fresh or dried Prunella for this project. If you don’t have any growing in your area, you can order freshly dried Prunella online from Mountain Rose Herbs! They sell wildcrafted and organically grown herbs that are fresh and wonderful.
Want to learn more about Prunella? You can grab the ebook in our shop.