Wood Betony: Stachys Officinalis, Bishopswort, Vettonica, Crown Chakra

Botany: 

This is a perennial herb (5) that generally grows in woods, but can be found in open regions as well. (1)(2) Wood Betony has a thickish, woody root that extends to 1 to 2 foot square stems.(1),(5)  Along the stem are stalked leaves, which are heart shaped, rough to the touch, and have a coating of aromatic oils and hairs. Further up the stem is the “interrupted spike”, which consists of stalk less leaves and flowers.  These leaves have an alternate growth pattern and are roughly indented.  Flowers for this herb are purple-red. These flowers typically bloom between July and August. (1)

Chemistry:

Wood Betony contains tannis(5), phenylethanoid glucosides (Acetoside, Campneoside II, Forsythoside B, Leucosceptoside B. Betonyosides A-F)(5) and alkaloids (Stachydrine and Bentonicide ).(2)(5)

Fun Fact:

This herb’s name can be translated to mean “Herb of the Head”. (2) It was most likely named this for its use as a nervine and a cure for headaches. (See uses)

History:

The people of ancient Greece felt this plant was more important than clothing. (1) They thought it could cure at least 47 disease states and even had magical powers to keep away evil spirits. (4)  They believed that it could cure a wounded animal upon consuming it.(1)  Anglo-Saxon people wore it to protect themselves against evil spirits.(2)  In Medieval England, Wood Betony grew abundantly was used to cure headaches and as a nervine. (1) It was also used here to treat bad dreams of evil spirits. (1)(2)

Uses/Pharmacology:

Wood Betony is still used as a nervine (1),(2),(3) and can treat twitches of the face.(1),(2)  The alkaloids present in the chemical makeup of this herb allow it to have sedative properties for this use. This chemical, along with the anti-inflammatory properties of the tannins present, aid in its function as migraine and headache cure. (2),(5) In addition to anti-inflammatory properties, tannins also function as an antimicrobial and an antidiarrheal. (3),(5)  These functions contribute to the Wood Betony’s use as a cure for dyspepsia though being a bitter tonic.(5)  This herb is also used as a yellow die and a healing applicant for cuts, wounds, sores, and hemorrhoids.(2) Lastly, the herb has been known to have a healing effect in the internal body of a person.  It is said to soothe the spleen, have an antidegradation effect on the pineal gland, and a calming effect on the liver, which can aid in the treatment of jaundice. (1),(5)

Dosing/Recipes:

There are many different ways to prepare Wood Betony for use.  They all start with collecting the aerial part of the plant when the flowers are in bloom between July and August. (1),(5) This part of the herb is then dried for all of its uses except for its use a die, which must be utilized before the plant is dried. The most common modern use is the alleviation of headaches.   This is done through regularly taking about 1-2g of the dried herb in boiling water about 1 to 3 times per day. (1),(5) Wood Betony is also smoked with Eyebright and Coltsfoot to cure headaches. The last way to use it as a cure for headaches is to sniff a pinch of the powdered herb so to induce sneezing.  To utilize Wood Betony’s affects against dyspepsia, it should be used as an aromatic. Decoctions of the herb can also be prepared to affect the body internally. (1)

Contraindications/Interactions/Adverse Reactions:

This herb is to be avoided during pregnancy, because the herb may act as a uterine stimulant. (3)

References Cited:

1. Grieve, M. (n.d.). A Modern Herbal. Retrieved from http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/b/betowo35.html#des

  1. (n.d.). Great American Products. Retrieved from http://www.greatamericanproducts.com/pages/Home/Glossary/W#woodbetony
  2. Lombardi, Raymond 1999 “Aspirin Alternatives: The Top Natural Pain-Relieving Analgesics” Pg 103, BL Publications
  3. Hoffman, David 1996 “The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal”, Element Books
  4. Wink, Michael 2004 “Medicinal Plants of the World” pg 308, Timber Press