Herbal Spotlight: Prunella Vulgaris

This blog is going to explore the benefits, uses, and forms of the Chinese herbal medicine, Prunella Vulgaris. While commonly used in Asian cultures, this herbal has not yet gained popularity or recognition in Western Medicine. In the last five years, more research has emerged investigating the use and properties of this powerful herbal.

Prunella Vulgaris belongs to the mint family of plants. Mainly found in the Chinese provinces such as Jiangsu, Anhui and Henan, the fruit turns from pale to brownish red in the summer and is left to dry in the sun once all foreign matter is removed. It has a faint odor and mild taste. 

Prunella vulgaris is claimed as “heal-all” herbal due to its traditional use in healing wounds, throat infections, and several other ailments1. A 2013 literature review found that use ranges from helping protect against viruses, infections, and chronic diseases, including diabetes and cancer2.

Studies have examined the chemical properties of the prunella vulgaris to investigate healing properties. One study states that the plant contains a variety of structurally diverse natural products, primarily rosmarinic acid (RA), ursolic acid (UA) and oleanolic acid (OA), which possess a wide array of biological properties3

It is commonly known as a natural antiseptic due to the presence of various polyphenols4.

While there is emerging research on this herbal, more research on humans should be done on the benefits of Prunella Vulgaris.

Benefits:

Help with complications of Diabetes:

Research done in test tubes and rodents suggest that certain compounds in this herb may inhibit enzymes that break down and metabolize carbohydrates in your body to produce lower blood sugar levels5,6. These results indicate the potential improved diabetes control through this herb1.

Another research studied the effects of prunella vulgaris and atherosclerosis secondary to Type 2 diabetes. Results found that treatment with APV (prunella vulgaris) markedly decreased total plasma cholesterol, triglyceride, and LDL-cholesterol and increased the HDL-cholesterol7. Results purport the use of APV to prevent the development of diabetic atherosclerosis7.

Anticancer effects:

As previously mentioned, this herb contains a wide variety of bioactive compounds with health benefits. Some of the compounds are being studied for their anti-cancer effects.

One 2010 mouse study found that two carbohydrates in the plant of PV had anti-lung cancer activity, suggesting possible immunomodulation effects8.

Another 2018 study found that two components (caffeic acid and rosmarinic acid) of PV resulted in improved therapeutic outcomes for breast cancer patients. Caffeic acid exhibits anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory properties and was approved to inhibit the growth of breast cancer9. Rosmarinic acid also exhibits anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, and anti-metastatic effect9.

Helps treat herpes:

Due to the many nutrients and carbohydrates in this herb, there are a range of therapeutic. Prunella vulgaris is often referred to as a possible treatment for the herpes simplex virus (HSV).

Studies have shown that creams containing this herb can be beneficial to reducing sores and skin lesions10.

Anti-inflammatory effects:

Prunella vulgaris has also been studied for its anti-inflammatory benefits. Results of a 2013 study found that prunella vulgaris does indeed contain anti-inflammatory effects and suppressed the activity of inflammatory proteins known to lead to the development of heart diseases and stroke11.

Helps with cognition, memory, and neuroprotection:

The following studies support the use of prunella vulgaris due to its neuroprotective benefits, however these studies are emerging and have been tested with rats. Further research is needed with human participants.

One 2010 study found that results of memory testing with prunella vulgaris suggest that EEPV (prunella vulgaris) would be useful for treating cognitive impairments12.

Another 2013 study investigated the relationship between EEPV and attention disruption and cognition. Findings suggest that EEPV could be useful for treating schizophrenia because EEPV ameliorates pre-pulse inhibition disruption and attention deficits13.

Furthermore, a 2015 study found that EEPV may enhance cognitive function via the activation of various intracellular signaling molecules and the up-regulation of adult hippocampal neurogenesis14.

Lastly, a 2017 study purports the use of EEPV as a dietary supplement for antidementia. Results showed that prunella vulgaris resulted in an anti-neuroinflammatory effect and improved behavioral performance and decreasing brain cell damage15.

Forms

All parts of the prunella vulgaris plant 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.

NatureKue sells a dietary supplement, MemorySupport, with a proprietary blend of herbs, containing prunella vulgaris. This blend has been created by scientists to promote increased blood flow to heighten memory, concentration, and mental sharpness.

Main Takeaways

There is emerging research investigating the relationship between Prunella Vulgaris and improved health outcomes. This herb may have a powerful impact on both the mind and inflammation. Consider adding this herb to your diet to support cognition.

Talk to your healthcare provider before initiating supplementation or discontinuing medication use.

Citations

  1. Prunella vulgaris: Uses, Benefits, and Side Effects. Healthline. Published June 17, 2019. Accessed September 16, 2021. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/prunella-vulgaris
  2. Rasool R, Ganai B. Prunella vulgaris L. : A Literature Review on its Therapeutic Potentials. Pharmacologia. 2013;4:441-448. doi:10.5567/pharmacologia.2013.441.448
  3. Chen Y, Zhu Z, Guo Q, Zhang L, Zhang X. Variation in concentrations of major bioactive compounds in Prunella vulgaris L. related to plant parts and phenological stages. Biol Res. 2012;45(2):171-175. doi:10.4067/S0716-97602012000200009
  4. Fazal H, Abbasi BH, Ahmad N, Ali M. Elicitation of Medicinally Important Antioxidant Secondary Metabolites with Silver and Gold Nanoparticles in Callus Cultures of Prunella vulgaris L. Appl Biochem Biotechnol. 2016;180(6):1076-1092. doi:10.1007/s12010-016-2153-1
  5. Yu Q, Qi J, Wang L, Liu S-J, Yu B-Y. Pentacyclic triterpenoids from spikes of Prunella vulgaris L. inhibit glycogen phosphorylase and improve insulin sensitivity in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Phytother Res PTR. 2015;29(1):73-79. doi:10.1002/ptr.5228
  6. Raafat K, Wurglics M, Schubert-Zsilavecz M. Prunella vulgaris L. active components and their hypoglycemic and antinociceptive effects in alloxan-induced diabetic mice. Biomed Pharmacother Biomedecine Pharmacother. 2016;84:1008-1018. doi:10.1016/j.biopha.2016.09.095
  7. Hwang SM, Kim JS, Lee YJ, et al. Anti-diabetic atherosclerosis effect of Prunella vulgaris in db/db mice with type 2 diabetes. Am J Chin Med. 2012;40(5):937-951. doi:10.1142/S0192415X12500693
  8. Feng L, Jia X-B, Shi F, Chen Y. Identification of Two Polysaccharides from Prunella vulgaris L. and Evaluation on Their Anti-Lung Adenocarcinoma Activity. Molecules. 2010;15(8):5093-5103. doi:10.3390/molecules15085093
  9. Zhao J, Ji D, Zhai X, Zhang L, Luo X, Fu X. Oral Administration of Prunella vulgaris L Improves the Effect of Taxane on Preventing the Progression of Breast Cancer and Reduces Its Side Effects. Front Pharmacol. 2018;9:806. doi:10.3389/fphar.2018.00806
  10. Zhang Y, But PP-H, Ooi VE-C, et al. Chemical properties, mode of action, and in vivo anti-herpes activities of a lignin-carbohydrate complex from Prunella vulgaris. Antiviral Res. 2007;75(3):242-249. doi:10.1016/j.antiviral.2007.03.010
  11. Park SH, Koo HJ, Sung YY, Kim HK. The protective effect of Prunella vulgaris ethanol extract against vascular inflammation in TNF-α-stimulated human aortic smooth muscle cells. BMB Rep. 2013;46(7):352-357. doi:10.5483/BMBRep.2013.46.7.214
  12. Park SJ, Kim DH, Lee IK, et al. The ameliorating effect of the extract of the flower of Prunella vulgaris var. lilacina on drug-induced memory impairments in mice. Food Chem Toxicol Int J Publ Br Ind Biol Res Assoc. 2010;48(6):1671-1676. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2010.03.042
  13. Park SJ, Jeon SJ, Dela Peña IC, et al. Prunella vulgaris attenuates prepulse inhibition deficit and attention disruption induced by MK-801 in mice. Phytother Res PTR. 2013;27(12):1763-1769. doi:10.1002/ptr.4929
  14. Park SJ, Ahn YJ, Lee HE, Hong E, Ryu JH. Standardized Prunella vulgaris var. lilacina Extract Enhances Cognitive Performance in Normal Naive Mice. Phytother Res PTR. 2015;29(11):1814-1821. doi:10.1002/ptr.5449
  15. Qu Z, Zhang J, Yang H, et al. Prunella vulgaris L., an Edible and Medicinal Plant, Attenuates Scopolamine-Induced Memory Impairment in Rats. J Agric Food Chem. 2017;65(2):291-300. doi:10.1021/acs.jafc.6b04597

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