Prunella vulgaris is a medicinal herb that belongs to the mint family.

Some claim it can help protect against viruses, infections, and chronic diseases, including diabetes and cancer (1).

However, nearly all of the research on Prunella vulgaris has been limited to animal and test-tube studies.

This article provides a detailed overview of Prunella vulgaris, including its uses, potential benefits, and side effects.

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Prunella vulgaris is an herb that has been used to treat illnesses for centuries.

It’s a member of the mint family and has large green leaves and purple flowers. It grows all over the world, including North America, Europe, and Asia.

Prunella vulgaris is also known as “heal-all” due to its traditional use in healing wounds, throat infections, and several other ailments (1).

The possible health benefits of this plant are attributed to several of its compounds. These include flavonoids, tannins, and ursolic, rosmarinic, and oleanolic acids, which may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties (1, 2, 3).

Specifically, these compounds may help prevent complications associated with diabetes, protect against herpes, and have anticancer effects (4, 5, 6).

All parts of the herb are edible, and you can add its leaves to salads or other recipes.

It’s also sold in pill and liquid-extract form, as well as in balms and ointments that can be applied directly to your skin. You can find it online or in supplement shops.

Summary Prunella vulgaris is an herb that contains several beneficial compounds. It can be used in cooking, added to ointments, or consumed as a pill or extract.

Several animal and test-tube studies suggest that Prunella vulgaris may have health benefits. However, very few human studies have analyzed the effects of this herb.

More extensive research is needed to fully understand its possible benefits and downsides.

May help with diabetes complications

Prunella vulgaris may help prevent complications associated with diabetes, a disease marked by high blood sugar levels.

Studies in test tubes and rodents suggest that certain compounds in the herb may inhibit enzymes that break down and metabolize carbohydrates in your body. In turn, this may lead to lower blood sugar levels and improved diabetes control (7, 8).

In addition, Prunella vulgaris may protect against atherosclerosis, a hardening of the arteries that can increase your risk of heart attack (4, 9).

People with diabetes are more likely to develop risk factors for atherosclerosis, including artery damage from high blood sugar, elevated triglycerides, and high total and LDL (bad) cholesterol (10).

One 8-week study fed diabetic mice a diet high in fat and cholesterol and gave some of them Prunella vulgaris extract.

The mice given Prunella vulgaris had lower total blood cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and triglycerides. The extract also led to improvements in heart function (4).

While the results of these studies suggest that Prunella vulgaris may help decrease blood sugar and prevent atherosclerosis associated with diabetes, more research is needed to know if it would have similar effects in humans.

May have cancer-fighting properties

Certain compounds in Prunella vulgaris may have anticancer effects.

Specific carbohydrates in the plant have been shown to induce cancer cell death and prevent tumor growth in test-tube studies (6, 11).

Test-tube studies also show that caffeic acid, rosmarinic acid, and other plant compounds in this herb may act as antioxidants that fight underlying cell damage. This damage is caused by reactive molecules called free radicals, which are linked to cancer development (12, 13).

One study in human liver cancer cells found that Prunella vulgaris stopped the spread of cancer by inhibiting certain enzymes that promote cancer growth (14).

Furthermore, a study in 424 people with breast cancer found that those who took the herb along with an anticancer medication lived significantly longer than those who took the medication alone (13).

In fact, almost twice as many people in the group who took Prunella vulgaris with medication showed no evidence of disease after their treatment, compared with the group who did not take the supplement alongside their medication (13).

However, keep in mind that this research is in its early stages. More human research is needed to fully understand the role of Prunella vulgaris as a complementary cancer therapy.

May help treat herpes

Prunella vulgaris is often cited as a possible treatment for the herpes simplex virus (HSV), which is marked by contagious sores around your mouth or genitals.

Specifically, a type of carb in Prunella vulgaris has been shown to block the replication of HSV cells in test-tube studies (5, 15, 16).

In addition to blocking the virus from spreading, Prunella vulgaris may protect against herpes by stimulating the activity of immune cells like macrophages, which help your body fight infection (17, 18).

Animal studies have found that topical creams containing Prunella vulgaris significantly reduce the number of sores and skin lesions caused by the herpes virus (19).

While these results are promising, human studies are needed to better understand whether treatments containing Prunella vulgaris can help treat herpes.

May have anti-inflammatory activity

Prunella vulgaris may also help fight inflammation in your body and thus have the potential to help treat inflammatory diseases.

One test-tube study in human heart muscle cells found that Prunella vulgaris extract suppressed the activity of inflammatory proteins known to lead to the development of heart diseases and stroke (20).

Prunella vulgaris has also been shown to fight intestinal inflammation in mice. It may protect against diseases like colitis, an inflammatory condition of the colon that can cause diarrhea, stomach pain, and rectal bleeding (21).

However, no human studies have investigated this herb’s anti-inflammatory effects.

Summary Compounds in Prunella vulgaris may help prevent diabetes complications, have anticancer effects, treat herpes, and fight inflammation. However, this research is in its early stages, and more studies in humans are needed.

Given that very few studies have investigated the effects of Prunella vulgaris in humans, there is little information on its recommended dosage and possible side effects.

One study in people with breast cancer found that consuming approximately 7 ounces (207 ml) of Prunella vulgaris extract per day was safe and did not cause side effects (13).

However, several different types of Prunella vulgaris are available, including liquid extracts, dried pills, and topical ointments, some of which may have unknown side effects.

In addition, there has been no research on Prunella vulgaris in children or pregnant or breastfeeding women. Therefore, the safety of this herb in these populations is unknown.

If you are interested in taking Prunella vulgaris to help manage diabetes, herpes, or another condition, be sure to consult your healthcare provider.

Keep in mind that supplements are not well regulated in the United States. Thus, you should look for Prunella vulgaris that has been tested for quality by a third party.

Summary Since there is limited research on Prunella vulgaris in humans, there is no information about its potential side effects or recommended dosage. Before taking Prunella vulgaris, consult your healthcare provider.

Prunella vulgaris is a medicinal herb that has been used for centuries to treat infections and other illnesses.

Some studies show it may help fight inflammation, protect against cancer, prevent diabetes complications, and treat herpes. However, most research on this herb has been limited to test-tube and animal studies. Much more research in humans is needed.

If you are interested in taking Prunella vulgaris for a certain condition, be sure to consult your healthcare provider.