The Self Heal by Unknown

The Self-heal has had a very wide repute for its good-qualities. It belongs to the family of plants known as Labiates, which includes mint, sage, thyme, and other aromatic plants; these flowers mostly have a curious lip, and grow in a spike. The self-heal is not a tall plant, though it flourishes more in the rich soil of a garden than on that of the field-bank or the hedgerow. One curious thing about the plant is, that the flowers do not open all together, but a few at a time, so that it never looks in full bloom. These flowers are bright blue, with a touch of crimson at the edges, the leaves being round and smooth. It is the habit of the plant to throw out trailing shoots, so that when it spreads over corn-fields, it causes much trouble to the labourers who have to pull it up.

The name may seem a little singular. It does not mean the plant heals itself, but that it contains the power to cure or heal without having to be mixed up into a compound, with other articles added to help the effect. Self-heal was used both inwardly and outwardly; a decoction made from the plant was swallowed as a remedy, and it was applied to wounds and sores. Even now, in Cheshire, Yorkshire, and some other parts of England, the plant is said to heal wounds, and relieve sore throats, though it is seldom called by the old name. Cheshire folk know it as Carpenter; it is not clear why the name of Sickle-flower is also given to it, unless it be that reapers use the plant for a wound made by a sickle; a very similar name is Hook-heal. Some people in the West of England call the plant the Fly-flower, though it has no particular likeness to a flower, nor does it draw flies or insects more than other plants. Yet another name is Irish; about Belfast it is known as 'Pinch and Heal.' The Dutch and Germans seem formerly to have called it Brunell or Prunel, which is nearly the same as the botanical name, prunella; both Dutch and Germans, as well as the French, in old books, rank it amongst the sovereign remedies for complaints.