Wood Betony (Betonica officinalis)

Wood betony, sometimes known as Stachys officinalis, is a small, pungent, perennial herbaceous plant found in grasslands and open woodlands of the British Isles, Europe, West Asia, and North Africa. It has a spike of magenta flowers that bloom in the summer months. The leaves are opposite each other, hairy, slightly cordate, and have scalloped margins. The flowers typically bloom July to September, and the herb should be collected before they bloom and should be sun-dried. It’s fairly easy to grow, needing little care, well draining soil, and full to partial sun.

Medicinal Uses
Wood Betony, prepared as an infusion, can prove a useful sedative for migraines, nervous based anxiety and tension, neuralgia, and can ease labor pains. It is a sedative, nervine tonic, and bitter, and combines well with skullcap for headaches. As a nervine tonic, it strengthens and calms the nervous system, making it especially useful for those who feel overexerted by mental stress, hysteria, chronic headaches, or cyclically acting nervous anxiety. It is also a good digestive, giving relief for heartburn and indigestion. It can also help ease menstrual related headaches and migraines when taken as a tincture or an infusion.

Folk Uses
It is often added to herbal cigarette blends, as it’s useful for the nerves of those trying to quit smoking. It was traditionally used as a protection charm in anglo-saxon cultures to prevent bad dreams, and was planted in churchyards to prevent activity by ghosts.

An infusion of 1-2 teaspoons of dried herb per cup of water, steeped for 10-15 minutes, taken three times daily, or 2-6ml of a tincture three times daily.

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A botanical illustration of Wood Betony.

A botanical illustration of Wood Betony.