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Betony The Healing Herb

Stachys officinalis common names: Betony, Synonyms and Common names: Betonica officinalis, Stachys officinalis, Bishopswort, lousewort, purple betonyEvergreen Perennial Ht: 2' - 3' Wood Betony is a ha...


Stachys officinalis common names: Betony, Synonyms and Common names:
Betonica officinalis, Stachys officinalis, Bishopswort, lousewort,
purple betony
Evergreen Perennial
Ht: 2' - 3'
Wood Betony is a hardy perennial that likes full sun to partial shade,
and is usually self-sowing once established.Native to Europe, wood
betony is now planted in many parts of the world with temperate
climates. The primary portions of the plant that are used as medicine
are the leaves and flowers, though historically the root has also been
used. There are many similar species originating from Eurasia,
including Stachys sieboldii (Chinese artichoke, kan lu) and S.
atherocalyx (hedge nettle).

Betony is used as a substitute for black tea. The infusion resembles
the taste of black tea and is caffeine-free. It helps relieve headache.

This is a wonderful flowering perennial it blooms in the spring with
lavender-pink spikes.

There are five species of Stachys growing wild in this country - the
once much-valued Betony (S. Betonica); the Marsh Stachys, or Clown's
Woundwort (S. palustris); the true Woundwort (S. Germanica), a doubtful
native, occurring occasionally on limestone soils in England, but very
common on the Continent, where the dense covering of its leaves was at
one time in rustic surgery employed in the place of lint for dressing
wounds, the low-creeping Field Stachys (S. arvensis); and the Hedge
Stachys, or Hedge Woundwort (S. sylvatica), perhaps the commonest of
them all.
Augustus, wrote a long treatise, showing it was a certain cure for no
less than fortyseven diseases.

Throughout the centuries, faith in its virtues as a panacea for all
ills was thoroughly ingrained in the popular estimation. It was largely
cultivated in the physic gardens, both of the apothecaries and the
monasteries, and may still be found growing about the sites of these
ancient buildings. Robert Turner, a physician writing in the latter
half of the seventeenth century, recounts nearly thirty complaints for
which Betony was considered efficacious, and adds, 'I shall conclude
with the words I have found in an old manuscript under the virtues of
it: "More than all this have been proved of Betony." '
In addition to its medicinal virtues, Betony was endowed with power
against evil spirits. On this account, it was carefully planted in
churchyards and hung about the neck as an amulet or charm, sanctifying,
as Erasmus tells us, 'those that carried it about them,' and being also
'good against fearful visions' and an efficacious means of 'driving
away devils and despair.' An old writer, Apelius, says:
'It is good whether for the man's soul or for his body; it shields him
against visions and dreams, and the wort is very wholesome, and thus
thou shalt gather it, in the month of August without the use of iron;
and when thou hast gathered it, shake the mold till nought of it cleave
thereon, and then dry it in the shade very thoroughly, and with its
root altogether reduce it to dust: then use it and take of it when thou
needst.'
Many extravagant superstitions grew up round Betony, one, of very
ancient date, was that serpents would fight and kill each other if
placed within a ring composed of it; and others declared that even wild
beasts recognized its efficacy and used it if wounded, and that stags,
if wounded with a dart, would search out Betony, and, eating it, be
cured.
The active constituents of wood betony have not been clearly
identified. The tannins, alkaloids, glycosides, and volatile oil found
in this plant and its cousins may all contribute to its activity.
Almost no research has been conducted on wood betony. Some Russian
research in humans apparently suggests it may promote lactation, though
the details of these studies are not readily available.

One of the stories that have grown up around it are that it helps
clarify deeper meanings of relationship, friendship and sexuality;
For those who prefer to be alone but are working on authentic ways to
connect with others.

Wood betony has been used in connection with the following conditions
(refer to the individual health concern for complete information):
Rating Health, Shingles, Sinusitis
Stress,Concerns,Anxiety,Gastritis.

Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a
substantial health benefit.
Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a
health benefit or minimal health benefit.
An herb is primarily supported by traditional use, or the herb or
supplement has little scientific support and/or minimal health benefit.

Wood betony was used in European folk herbalism as a remedy for
respiratory tract inflammation, heartburn, urinary tract inflammation,
varicose veins, intestinal worm infestations, and failure to thrive.1

It was considered a calming remedy and was used for headaches as well
as some forms of neuralgia, including shingles.
The active constituents of wood betony have not been clearly
identified. The tannins, alkaloids, glycosides, and volatile oil found
in this plant and its cousins may all contribute to its activity.

Almost no research has been conducted on wood betony. Some Russian
research in humans apparently suggests it may promote lactation, though
the details of these studies are not readily available.

How much is usually taken?
A tea of wood betony can be made by steeping 1 to 2 tsp dried leaf and
flower in a cup of water for 15 minutes. One or two cups of this tea
can be drunk per day. Though generally better between meals, it can be
taken with food for convenience or if there is any gastrointestinal
upset.

Are there any side effects or interactions?
There are no known adverse effects from use of wood betony other than
occasional mild gastrointestinal upset. Its safety in pregnancy and
breast-feeding is generally unknown, though as noted above it has been
studied in Russia as a way to increase lactation.
References
1. Lust J. The Herb Book. New York: Bantam Books, 1974:116.

2. Mills SY. Out of the Earth: The Essential Book of Herbal Medicine.

Middlesex, UK: Viking Arkana, 1991:576.

3. Stegailo EA, Lebedeva IM, Aronova BN, et al. Treatment of

hypogalactia with an extract of the betonica hedge nettle. Akush

Ginekol (Mosk) 1980;(2):19–20 [in Russian].

4. Bakhalova NV, Kharmats DA. Effect of the milk from mothers receiving

methylergometrine and hedge nettle extract on the physical development

of the newborn infant. Zdravookhr Kirg 1977;(2):28–31 [in Russian].

5. Lust J. The Herb Book. New York: Bantam BooksFind Article, 1974:116.

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