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MoonDragon's Health & Wellness
Nutrition Basics

Wood Betony, Bishop's Wort

(Stachys Officinalis)

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  • Betony Herbal Description
  • Betony Uses, Health Benefits & Scientific Evidence
  • Betony Dosage Information
  • Betony Safety, Cautions & Interactions
  • Betony Supplements & Products

  • betony



    Betony (Stachys officinalis) is also known as Wood Betony, Purple Betony, Lousewort, Bishopwort, Bishop's Wort, Common Hedge-Nettle, and Spiked Betony.

    Wood betony is a perennial grassland herb native to Europe bearing a spike of purple flowers on a long, central stem reaching 1 to 2 feet in height. Its leaves are stalked on upright stems, narrowly oval with a heart-shaped base. All the leaves are rough to the touch, somewhat wrinkled texture and toothed margins. They are also fringed with short, fine hairs; their whole surface is dotted with glands containing a bitter, aromatic oil. The calyx is 5 to 7 mm long, with 5 teeth, edged with bristles. The corolla 1 to 1.5 cm longn. Its upper lip flat, almost straight when seen from the side. The anthers stick straight out. It flowers in mid summer from July to September, annd is found in dry grassland, meadows and open woods in most of Europe, western Asia and North Africa. In the British Isles, it is common in England and Wales, but rare in Ireland and northern Scotland.

    betony plant



    "Sell your coat and buy betony," admonished an Italian proverb of the Middle Ages, while a Spanish compliment states, "He has as many virtues as Betony". Wood betony was once considered an herbal "magic bullet" for dispelling a wide variety of diseases. Antonius Musa, chief physician to the Roman emperor Caesar August, catalogued 47 conditions he treated with the herb. He also claimed it as effective against sorcery. It was planted in churchyards to prevent activity by ghosts.

    The Anglo Saxo Herbal recommends its use to prevent bad dreams ('frightful nocturnal goblins and terrible sights and dreams'). A Welsh charm prescribes - to prevent dreaming, take the leaves of Betony and hang about your neck, or else drink the juice on going to bed.


    The plant was commonly grown in physic gardens of apothecaries and monasteries for medicinal purposes. Betony was an ingredient of "Pistoja powder," an old remedy for arthritis and gout. It was also claimed to be effective against snake and dog bites, and was believed to be a cure for drunkenness. Richard E. Banks stated that you should "Eat betony or the powder thereof and you cannot be drunken that day." John Gerard (1597) said that "It maketh a man to pisse well." While Nicholas Culpeper stated that, " preserves the liver and bodies of men from the danger of epidemical diseases, and from witchcraft also" and "...this is a precious herb, well worth keeping in your house." He also states that Betony is astrologically ruled by Jupiter and Aries.

    Stachys officinalis (Betonica officinalis) has been used in traditional Austrian medicine internally as tea, or externally as compresses or baths for treatment of disorders of the respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract, nervous system, skin and gynecological problems.

    Modern herbalists prescribe betony to treat anxiety, gallstones, heartburn, high blood pressure, migraine and neuralgia, and to prevent sweating. It can also be used as an ointment for cuts and sores. Not all of these uses are supported by scientific evidence. Betony's properties as a nervine and tonic are still acknowledged, thought it is more frequently employed in combination with other nervines than alone. It is useful in hysteria, palpitations, pain in the head and face, neuralgia and all nervous affections. As an aromatic, it has also astringent and alternative action, and combined with other remedies it is used as a tonic in dyspepsia and as an alternative in rheumatism, scrofula and impurities of the blood.

    Wood Betony is not seen as a panacea anymore and its use in contemporary folk medicine is limited. However, Wood Betony is of real value as treating headaches and pain in the facial region. The mildly sedative action of Wood Betony is also effective in relieving nervous stress and emotional tension. Wood Betony is included in British herbal medicine as a remedy that help improve the functioning of the nervous system and as an herb that can help counter over activity in the body. The remedies made from Wood Betony are often used in the treatment of "frayed nerves," in treating premenstrual complaints, in treating poor memory, and in alleviating nervous tension and other emotional problems.

    The weak infusion forms a very acceptable substitute for tea, and in this way is extensively used in many localities. It has somewhat the taste of tea and all the good qualities of it, without the bad ones. To make Betony tea, pour a pint of boiling water on an ounce of the dried herb. A wineglassful of this decoction three times a dayproves a benefit against languid nervous headaches. The dried herb may also be smoked as tobacco, combined with Eyebright and Coltsfoot, for relieving headache. A pinch of the powdered herb will provoke violent sneezing. The dried leaves formed an ingredient in Rowley's British Herb Snuff, which was at one time quite famous for headaches. The fresh leaves are said to have an intoxicating effect. They have also been used to dye wool a fine yellow.

    At this time, the only principal use for this remedy in fold medicine is as an herbal astringent, this beneficial effect is due to the high level of tannins present in the herb. This property of Wood Betony makes it very effective in alleviating problems such as diarrhea and in treating various irritations affecting the mucous membranes in the body.

    The astringent properties of the wood betony is well known, and it is used in a combination with other herbs, including Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) - and with Linden flowers (Tilia species). When used combined with these herbs, it is effective in the treatment of sinusitis headaches and in treating nasal congestion.

    The remedy made from Wood Betony used with Yarrow or used alone will also staunch nosebleeds in a patient.

    The taste of Wood Betony is mildly bitter and it is used to stimulate the digestive system and to boost the functioning of the liver. The herb also has general tonic like effect on the human body and is used in various treatments.

    betony flower



    Betony's constituents are betaine, caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, harpagide, rosmarinic acid, stachydrine, tannins. The whole herb is used for preparations. The herb is collected in dry weather. Typical preparatins are gargles, extracts and teas. Betony is seldom found encapsulated.

    The whole herb, collected from wild plants in July, when at their best, and dried. Collect only on a fine day, in the morning, but after the dew has been dried by the sun, Cut off the stems shortly above the root (which is no longer used, as in olden days); strip off all discolored or insect-eaten leaves, and as the stems are fairly firm, tie them up in bunches of about six stalks together, spread out fanwise, so that the air can penetrate to them all, and hang them over strings to dry, either in half-shade, in the open air, or in the drying room. The bunches should be of uniform sizes to facilitate packing when dry. If dried out-of-doors, take in before there is any risk of becoming damp from dew or showers. For drying indoors, a warm, sunny attic or loft may be employed, the window being left open by day, so that there is a current of air, and the moist, hot air may escape: the door may also be left open. The temperature should be from 70 to 100°F. Failing sun any ordinary shed, fitted with racks and shelves, can be used as a drying room, provided it is ventilated near the roof and has a warm current of air, caused by an ordinary coke or anthracite stove. The important point in drying is rapidity and the avoidance of steaming: the quicker the process of drying, the more even the color obtained, making the product more saleable. All dried leaves and herbs should be packed away at once in wooden boxes or tins in a dry place, as otherwise they re-absorb about 12 percent of moisture from the air, and are liable to become moldy. The herbs should not be pressed down heavily when packing, or they will tend to crumble.

    The leaves of the Wood Betony are often prepared as an infusion or used in the preparation of an herbal tea, these liquids are either drunk or employed as a gargle or mouthwash to treat oral and throat disorders. An herbal combination remedy made from a mixture of Wood Betony with Skullcap is good for treating nervous headaches. The use of the leaves to make an infusion or a tea depends on the type of disorder affecting the person.

    INFUSION: For general use as a relaxant and as a tonic - low doses of one teaspoon per cup can be taken daily. The infusion can also be used in therapeutic doses for alleviating menstrual pain, in the treatment of migraines and other headaches, to alleviate nervous tension, or to stimulate digestion and cleanse the system. Hot Wood Betony infusion can be drunk during a difficult or painful labor to alleviate the pain. Dosage for the herbal infusion can be a cup of the infusion taken thrice daily, prepare the infusion by pouring a cup of boiling water on 1 to 2 teaspoonfuls of the dried herb. Let the herb steep into the water for ten to fifteen minutes before straining and drinking.

    TINCTURE: The Wood Betony tincture can also be used in the same doses as the infusion and to achieve similar results. Drinking the tincture is particularly beneficial in case of nervous headaches; the tincture combines well with the remedy made from lavender. The tincture can also be used as a cleansing liquid in toxic and arthritic disorders. Dosage for the tincture can be 2 to 6 ml of the tincture thrice daily as long as needed.

    POULTICE: The poultice made from the herb can be applied to heal wounds and bruises on the skin. This can be prepared by grinding fresh Wood Betony leaves to a pulp.

    WASH: The infusion can be used as an herbal wash to bathe and clean leg ulcers and other wounds on the skin especially if they are infected.

    MOUTHWASH/GARGLE: The herbal infusion is useful in treating mouth ulcers, various gum inflammations, and as a gargle in case of sore throats.

    TONIC WINE: The wood betony can be made into an herbal tonic wine by macerating about fifty grams of Wood Betony and adding twenty five gram each of Vervain and Hyssop in seventy five ml of white wine - this mixture must be left standing in a bottle two weeks. Doses of a quarter cup per dose will bring relief from nervous headaches and mental tension or other emotional disorders.



    When used as an ordinary herbal remedy, the wood betony should not induce any significant side effects in a person.

    However, an over dose of the remedy could induce excessive irritation on the tissues lining the stomach and cause other symptoms.

    Russian research indicates that the traditional warning for nursing mothers not to use wood betony is not warranted. Drink the tea at a meal for maximum benefit.


  • Betony (Wood Betony) Herbal Products




    Mountain Rose Herbs: Wood Betony (Stachys officinalis), Organic, Bulk Organic Herbs & Spices
    Mountain Rose Herbs: Wood Betony Extract (Stachys officinalis), Organic, Single Herbal Extracts & Tinctures
    Mountain Rose Herbs: Wood Betony (Stachys officinalis) Seeds, Organic, Medicinal Herb Seeds Packets
    Herbaceous perennial, very easy to start from seed. Takes 2 years to flower, but well worth the wait. The moisture loving plant prefers sun or shade and normal garden soil. Has beautiful red/purple flowering spikes that attract bees. Tea is made from dried leaf and is useful for headaches and mild nervine. 100 seeds per packet.
    Mountain Rose Herbs: LifeLine Medicinal Seeds Kit, Organic, Medicinal Herb Seeds Packets
    This handsome, and conveniently packaged set of seeds is a great foundation primer for those wishing to start a medicinal herb garden. Each packet of seeds is certified organic through OTCO. Each kit contains 1 packet of each: Astragulus (50 seeds), Holy Basil (100 seeds), Burdock (100 seeds), Calendula (100 seeds), German Chamomile (500 seeds), Echinacea purpurea (200 seeds), Elecampane (100 seeds), Evening primrose (200 seeds), Flax (200 seeds), Lemon Balm (200 seeds), Marshmallow (100 seeds), Motherwort (200 seeds), Nettles (400 seeds), Cayenne pepper (100 seeds), Sage (100 seeds), Valerian (100 seeds), Wood Betony (100 seeds), Yarrow (200 seeds).


    Starwest Botanicals: Wood Betony Herb, Cut & Sifted, Organic, 4 oz.
    Starwest Botanicals: Wood Betony Herb, Cut & Sifted, Wildcrafted, 1 lb.
    Starwest Botanicals: Wood Betony Herb, Cut & Sifted, Organic, 1 lb.
    Starwest Botanicals: Wood Betony Herb Powder, Wildcrafted, 1 lb.


    Richters Seeds: Betony (Stachys officinalis) Seeds
    Richters Seeds: Betony (Stachys officinalis) Plants


    HerbsPro: Wood Betony Extract, Herb Pharm, 1 fl. oz. (31356)
    HerbsPro: Wood Betony Herb Extract, Natures Answer, 1 fl. oz. (17357)
    HerbsPro: Wood Betony Extract, Eclectic Institute Inc, 1 fl. oz. (946)
    HerbsPro: Wood Betony Extract, Eclectic Institute Inc, 2 fl. oz. (76156)
    HerbsPro: Wood Betony Extract, Herb Pharm, 4 fl. oz. (32358)


    HCBL: Head X, HCBL, 450 mg, 100 Caps
    This herbal food combination provides healthy support for the circulatory system. Furthermore, it balances the system with regular use. This 100% natural Head-X formula contains herbal ingredients long recognized for their usefulness with circualtion: Fenugreek, Feverfew, Passion Flower, Rosemary, Peppermint, Thyme, Marjoram, Blue Violet and Wood Betony.


    TakeHerb: Wood Betony Herb (Stachys officinalis), Cut & Sifted, Organic, Starwest Botanicals, 4 oz.
    TakeHerb: Wood Betony Herb (Stachys officinalis), Cut & Sifted, Wildcrafted, Starwest Botanicals, 1 lb.
    TakeHerb: Wood Betony Herb (Stachys officinalis), Cut & Sifted, Organic, Starwest Botanicals, 1 lb.
    TakeHerb: Wood Betony Herb (Stachys officinalis), Powder, Wildcrafted, Starwest Botanicals, 1 lb.


    Kalyx: Wood Betony Extract (Betonica officinalis), Health & Herbs, 2 fl. oz: HH
    Kalyx: Wood Betony Extract, Non-Alcoholic, Health & Herbs, 2 fl. oz: HH
    Kalyx: Wood Betony Extract (Betonica officinalis), Health & Herbs, 8 fl. oz: HH
    Kalyx: Wood Betony Extract, Non-Alcoholic, Health & Herbs, 8 fl. oz: HH
    Kalyx: Wood Betony Extract (Betonica officinalis), Health & Herbs, 16 fl. oz: HH
    Kalyx: Wood Betony Extract, Non-Alcoholic, Health & Herbs, 16 fl. oz: HH
    Kalyx: Wood Betony Extract (Betonica officinalis), Health & Herbs, 32 fl. oz: HH
    > Kalyx: Wood Betony Herb, Cut & Sifted, Wildcrafted, Starwest Botanicals, 1 lb. (C)
    Kalyx: Wood Betony Herb (Betonica officinalis), Cut & Sifted, Organic, Starwest Botanicals, 1 lb: C
    Kalyx: Wood Betony Herb Powder (Betonica officinalis), Starwest Botanicals, 1 lb: C

  • Nutrition Basics: Betony (Wood Betony) Herbal Information

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