Prunella vulgaris L

[From German, prunella = quinsey and from Latin, vulgus = common people]

Physical description: It is a herb which grows to a height of approximately 25 cm tall. The plant is native to Europe, Asia and North America where it grows wild in temperate pastures, by the roadsides and in vacant plots of land. The stems are quadrangular, green, stoloniferous, succulent a glabrous except younger parts. Leaves: simple, decussate and without stipules. The petiole is 2.2cm-9cm long, subglabrous, and channeled. The blade is oblong-elliptic, 4.5 cm x 2.3cm-5.3cm x 2.5 cm, very thin and subglabrous. The margin is wavy. The blade shows 3-4 pairs of secondary nerves which are indistinct. The inflorescences are terminal, bracteate and of few-flowered spikes. The bracts are 5 mm x 7 mm, broadly acuminate and hairy. The calyx is nerved, 7 mm x 2.5 mm, hairy and bilobed. The upper lip is 3-lobed. The corolla is tubular, bilobed, purple and 1 cm-1.5cm long. The stigma is bilobed. The seeds are smooth, ovoid and 2 mm x 1 mm (Fig. 311).

Synonymy: Prunella asiatica Nak. Common name: Self-heal.

534 Division MAGNOLIOPHYTA Pharmaceutical interest:

Uses: In China, Taiwan and Japan, Prunella vulgaris L. is used to combat fever, invigorate the liver, lower blood pressure, promote urination, heal boils, resolve conjunctiva, and to treat infection. In Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, the plant is used to treat intestinal diseases and diseases of the lungs, as well as scrofula. In Korea, Prunella vulgaris L. is used to stop diarrhea, heal abscesses and ulceration.

Fig. 311. Prunella vulgaris L. From: KLU Herbarium 35433. Plants of Virginia, University of Maryland Herbarium, College Park, Maryland, USA. Field collector & botanical identification: Mary Kay Schaaf. 6 Sep 1980. Geographical localization: Virginia, Fairfax City, intersection of Estel Road and Barlow Road. Wooded area. United States of America.

Fig. 311. Prunella vulgaris L. From: KLU Herbarium 35433. Plants of Virginia, University of Maryland Herbarium, College Park, Maryland, USA. Field collector & botanical identification: Mary Kay Schaaf. 6 Sep 1980. Geographical localization: Virginia, Fairfax City, intersection of Estel Road and Barlow Road. Wooded area. United States of America.

Anti-inflammatory properties: The anti-inflammatory property of Prunella vulgaris L. is confirmed, possibly involving some triterpenes. An aqueous extract of Prunella vulgaris L., at doses ranging from 0.005 g/Kg-1 g/ Kg, protects rats against immediate-type allergic reactions (Shin TY et a/., 2001). 2a, 3a-dihydroxyursolic acid characterized from Prunella vulgaris L., inhibits the release of p-hexosaminidase from the cultured RBL-2H3 cells in a dose-dependent manner with an IC50 value of 57^M. Ursolic acid and 2 a-hydroxyursolic acid inhibit the production of nitric oxide from cultured murine macrophages, RAW 264.7 cells with IC50 values of 17 and 27^M, respectively (Ryu SY et a/., 2000). A phenolic extract of the plant reduces oxidative stress in hereditary hypertriglyceridemic rats, fed with a high-sucrose diet (Skottova N etal, 2004).

Antiviral properties: An extract of the spike of Prunella vulgaris L. displays anti-HIV activity at the adsorption and reverse transcription stages (Kaguyama S et al., 2000) on probable account of an anionic polysaccharide, which is active against another retrovirus, Herpes Simplex Virus types 1 and 2 (HSV-1 and HSV-2).This saccharide is inactive against Cytomegalovirus, the Human Influenza Virus types A and B, the Poliovirus type 1 or the Vesicular Stomatitis Virus in vitro. The 50% plaque reduction dose of the polysaccharide for Herpes Simplex Virus 1 and 2 is 10 ^g/mL. This polysaccharide also inhibits clinical isolates and known acyclovir-resistant (TK-deficient or polymerase-defective) strains of HSV-1 and HSV-2 (Xu HX etal., 1999). A polysaccharide fraction abrogates the expression of Herpes Simplex Virus antigen in Vero cells

(Chi-Ming CL et al., 2004). The plant inhibits Human Immunodeficiency Virus type 1, the 6-helix bundle formation in gp41 (Shuwen L et al., 2002).

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