Herbal Action: Vulneraries

Herbal actions can be difficult to understand. Although some of the terms are quite common to us (anti-inflammatory), others are words that we don't typically use in conversation. Today we are taking a closer look at vulneraries.

Herbs can be grouped into specific categories that describe the action(s) they can have within the body. There are several herbal action groups and most of them fall into two base categories: detoxification (eliminating blockages and excesses) and regeneration (restoring depleted resources). Vulnerary herbs are a part of regeneration category.

The word vulnerary comes from the Latin vulnus meaning "wound." Vulnus is also the source for the word vulnerable which literally means "woundable." 

As Dr. Philip Fritchey states in his book Practical Herbalism, "[Vulneraries] are herbs that promote the healing of fractures, cuts, wounds, and burns by protecting against infection, and by stimulating cellular renewal. Vulveraries may be taken internally, and applied externally as a poultice, fomentation, ointment, or wash."

It is common to think of these herbs to be beneficial for external skin wounds (cuts, burns, etc.), yet the action of vulneraries is just as relevant for internal wounds such as stomach ulcers.

Examples of Vulnerary Herbs Include:

  • Aloe
  • Arnica
  • Burdock
  • Calendula
  • Comfrey
  • Echinacea
  • Fenugreek
  • Irish Moss
  • Marshmallow
  • Mullein
  • Myrrh
  • Slippery Elm
  • Yarrow