Prunella Vulgaris herb by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
Feb 21 2014

Prunella vulgaris is one of the Chinese herbs used in Asia. Prunella Vulgaris is a perennial plant known as 'self-heal' in Western herbal medicine.

Prunella vulgaris composition
Rosmarinic acid and triterpenoid are some of the substances found in it.

Benefit of Prunella Vulgaris
According to some laboratory studies, prunella has many potential benefits, including anti-microbial, anti-viral, and anti-oxidant properties.  Prunella may have activity against herpes simplex virus which could be of benefit in oral herpes and genital herpes. However, human studies are lacking therefore not much more can be said about the clinical uses of a prunella vulgaris supplement.

HIV infection
Inhibition of HIV-1 infection by aqueous extracts of Prunella vulgaris L. Virol J. 2011 Apr 23.

Research
BMB Rep. 2013. The protective effect of Prunella vulgaris ethanol extract against vascular inflammation in TNF-α-stimulated human aortic smooth muscle cells.

Immune modulatory effects of Prunella vulgaris
Int J Mol Med. 2005.
Prunella vulgaris has a wide array of biological effects exhibiting numerous therapeutic potentials. Its anti-microbial effects including anti-viral and anti-bacterial effects are, presently, receiving increasing attention. While its anti-viral effects are attributed mainly to the inhibition of virus replication, the biological mechanisms of its anti-bacterial effects or actions remain unknown. In view of the fact that polysaccharides isolated from medicinal herbs often function as biological response modifier of body immunity, we hypothesized that the anti-microbial effect of polysaccharides isolated from it is probably also mediated via immune modulation. We have isolated four polysaccharides containing fractions from Prunella vulgaris, one of the fractions, PV2, could markedly stimulate the production of superoxide and nitrite representing nitric oxide from murine macrophage RAW264.7 and brain macrophage BV2 cells. The amount of nitrite and superoxide produced after PV2 stimulation was as high as that seen in stimulation using bacterial endotoxin lipopolysaccharide (LPS), and this stimulatory response is dose-dependent. In addition to monocyte/macrophage, PV2 also stimulated the proliferation of splenocytes. In this study, we have shown that the polysaccharides isolated from Prunella vulgaris have marked immune stimulatory effects, which may bring about the anti-microbial effects of Prunella vulgaris.

A polysaccharide fraction from medicinal herb Prunella vulgaris downregulates the expression of herpes simplex virus antigen in Vero cells.
J Ethnopharmacol. 2004.
Herpes simplex viruses are pathogenic. With the emergence of drug-resistant strains of Herpes simplex virus, new antiviral agents, especially those with different modes of action, are urgently needed. Prunella vulgaris, a perennial plant commonly found in China and Europe, has long been used as a folk medicine to cure ailments. In this study, a polysaccharide fraction was prepared from Prunella vulgaris, and its effects on the expressions of Herpes simplex virus-1 and Herpes simplex virus-2 antigens in their host Vero cells were investigated with flow cytometry. The Herpes simplex virus antigen increased time-dependently in the infected cells, and Prunella vulgaris reduced its expression. The effective concentrations of Prunella vulgaris with 50% reductions of the Herpes simplex virus-1 and Herpes simplex virus-2 antigens were 20 and 20 microg/ml, respectively. The novelty of Prunella vulgaris is that it also reduces the antigen expression of acyclovir-resistant strain of Herpes simplex virus-1. After incubations with 25-100 microg/ml of Prunella vulgaris the Herpes simplex virus antigen-positive cells were reduced by 24-92%, respectively, showing that this polysaccharide fraction has a different mode of anti-Herpes simplex virus action from acyclovir. Results from this study show that Prunella vulgaris is effective against both the Herpes simplex virus-1 and Herpes simplex virus-2 infections, and flow cytometry offers a quantitative and highly reproducible anti-Herpes simplex virus drug-susceptibility assay.

Phenolics-rich extracts from Silybum marianum and Prunella vulgaris reduce a high-sucrose diet induced oxidative stress in hereditary hypertriglyceridemic rats.
Pharmacol Res. 2004.
The study tested the effects of phenolics-rich extracts from the plants Silybum marianum (silymarin) and Prunella vulgaris on blood and liver antioxidant status and lipoprotein metabolism. These results indicate that silymarin and Prunella vulgaris improve antioxidant status in blood and liver and positively affect plasma lipoprotein profile in an experimental model of dietary induced hypertriglyceridemia.

Biological activities of Prunella vulgaris extract.
Phytother Res. 2003.
The organic fraction (OF; 25.7% w/w of rosmarinic acid) of Prunella vulgaris (total extract) was found to exhibit the following: scavenging activity on diphenylpicrylhydrazyl radical (DPPH), inhibition of in vitro human LDL Cu(II)-mediated oxidation, protection of rat mitochondria and rat hepatocytes exposed to either tert-butyl hydroperoxide, or to Cu(II) and Fe(III) ions. OF also showed a potential to inhibit rat erythrocyte haemolysis and it reduced the production of LTB(4) in bovine PMNL generated by the 5-lipoxygenase pathway. Other observations included antiproliferative effects against HaCaT cells and mouse epidermal fibroblasts and a moderate OF antimicrobial activity on gram-positive bacteria. Rosmarinic, caffeic and 3-(3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)lactic acids exhibited less potent activity than the plant extract in all bioassays. The antioxidative, antimicrobial, together with antiviral effects offer good prospects for its medicinal applications.

Identification of inhibitors of the HIV-1 gp41 six-helix bundle formation from extracts of Chinese medicinal herbs Prunella vulgaris and Rhizoma cibotte.
Life Sci. 2002.
An increasing portion of patients with HIV infection and/or AIDS cannot use currently FDA-approved anti-HIV drugs, including the reverse transcriptase and protease inhibitors, due to the adverse effects and the emergence of drug resistance. Thus, it is essential to develop new anti-HIV agents with a target different from the HIV reverse transcriptase and protease. Using a conformation-specific monoclonal antibody NC-1, we previously established a high throughput screening assay for identification of small molecular organic compounds that disrupt the HIV-1 gp41 six-helix bundle formation, a critical step of membrane fusion between the HIV and the target cell. In the present study, we used this assay to screen for inhibitors of the gp41 six-helix bundle formation from aqueous extracts of nine Chinese medicinal herbs with antiviral activity. We found that the extracts of two herbs, Prunella vulgaris and Rhizoma cibotte, showed potent inhibitory activity. The inhibitory activity of these two herb extracts significantly decreased after they were passed through polyamide resin mini-columns, which are able to bind polyphenols including tannin, an HIV-1 inhibitor with multiple mechanisms of action. The bound polyphenols were eluted from the polyamide columns and also showed potent inhibitory activity on the gp41 six-helix bundle formation. Tannin purchased from different commercial sources inhibited the gp41 six-helix bundle formation in a manner similar to the polyphenols isolated from the herb extracts. These results suggest that tannin may be one of major inhibitors of the HIV-1 gp41 six-helix bundle formation in the herb extracts and that tannin may inhibit HIV-1 entry by disrupting the gp41 six-helix bundle formation.

Inhibition of immediate-type allergic reactions by Prunella vulgaris in a murine model.
Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol. 2001.
We studied the effect of aqueous extract of Prunella vulgaris on immediate-type allergic reactions. At 0.005 to 1 g/kg it dose-dependently inhibited systemic anaphylactic shock induced by compound 48/ 80 in rats. When Prunella vulgaris was given as pretreatment, at concentrations ranging from 0.005 to 1 g/kg, the serum histamine levels induced by compound 48/ 80 were reduced in a dose-dependent manner. Prunella vulgaris (0.001 to 1 g/kg) inhibited the passive cutaneous anaphylaxis activated by anti-dinitrophenyl (DNP) IgE antibody dose dependently. Prunella vulgaris also inhibited the histamine release induced by compound 48/80 or anti-DNP IgE from the rat peritoneal mast cells (RPMC). The level of cyclic AMP in RPMC, when Prunella vulgaris was added, significantly increased, compared with that of normal control. Moreover, Prunella vulgaris (0.01 and 0.1 mg/ml) had a significant inhibitory effect on anti-DNP IgE-mediated tumor necrosis factor-alpha production from RPMC. These results indicate that Prunella vulgaris inhibits immediate-type allergic reactions in rats.

Anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory triterpenes from the herb of Prunella vulgaris.
Planta Med. 2000.
The activity-guided fractionation of the extract of the herb led to the isolation of four triterpenes, i.e., betulinic acid, ursolic acid, 2 alpha,3 alpha-dihydroxyurs-12-en-28-oic acid, and 2 alpha-hydroxyursolic acid.

Questions
Q. Can prunella vulgaris herb be used the same day as dhea hormone?
   A. Probably, but caution is advised with the use of dhea hormone.

Q. I understand that prunella vulgaris herb is readily available for purchase. What would be a suggestion way for  application?
   A. We don't have much clinical experience using it so we don't know the ideal dosage, form of ingestion or extract potency to use.

Where can I buy prunella vulgaris from a reliable source?
   I am not aware of specific testing of different products on the market to determine purity, so I don't know at this time.

I am currently being treated for Lyme disease, Bartonella, RMSF and Babesia.  I was wondering if you could share any additional information about this herb with me, would this aid in boosting my immune systems and to help to kill the spirochete load in my body, interactions with other herbs, etc.
   I am not aware of studies that have evaluated this herb in terms of its effect on these conditions.