WOOD BETONY

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Herbal Monograph

Herb:   WOOD BETONY      (Betonica officinalis (Stachys officinalis);

                                                Labiatae)

Other Names:    betony, bishopswort.    (2)

Bishopswort.    (57)

Character/Energetics:    bitter, cool    (6);  cool, drying, bitter-sweet   (15)

Meridians/Organs/Body Parts affected:   liver, heart   (6)    nerves and liver    (14)

Part(s) used:    aerial portions incl. basal leaves    (2)

aerial portions     (6)

                                                                                                      

Identification & Harvesting:    Plant grows 1′-3′ high;  stem is erect, unbranched, bristly;  leaves are elongate-ovate and decrease in size with height.  Flowers are crimson and labiate, and the corolla is curled downward.  Grows in Europe.  Collect and dry in shade at no more than 100F.    (2)

Collect just before flowers bloom.  Dry carefully in sun.    (8)

Harvest in summer while flowering.  (15)   

Stem is furnished with few distant pairs of rough, hairy, oblong leaves, 2-3 inches long and about 3/4-1 inch broad, crenate at the margins, the leaves mostly radical.  Flowers are purplish, labiate, arranged in a terminal oval spike interrupted below.    (57)

                                                                                                                                            

Active Constituents:    Betaines incl. betonicine, (-)-oxystachydrine, (-)-stachydrine, (+)-oxystachydrine;  caffeic acid derivatives incl. chlorogenic acid, isochlorogenic acid, rosemary acid iridoid glycosides;  diterpene lactones;  flavonoids.    (2)

alkaloids incl. betonicine, stachydrene, trigonelline.    (8)

15% tannins and several other ingredients   (6) alkaloids (including stachydrine and trigonelline), tannins, saponins   (15)

                                                                                                                                                

Actions:    Sedative, disinfectant, astringent, hypotensive, expectorant.    (2)

nervine, sedative, astringent, bitter tonic   (6)                                                                   

sedative, nervine, bitter.    (8)

Primarily nervine;  also alterative, aromatic, hepatic, parasiticide    (14)

sedative, bitter digestive remedy, mild diuretic, nervine, circulatory tonic particularly for cerebral circulation, astringent   (15)                                                                                                                                                             

Aromatic, astringent, alterative.    (57)

Conditions & Uses:    Treats phlegmy coughs, bronchitis and asthma;  neuralgia and anxiety.  Folk uses include antidiarrheal, carminative, sedative, catarrh, heartburn, gout, nervousness, bladder and kidney stones, bladder inflammation.    (2)

Wood betony usually is used as a nervine with special action for diseases of the head. Taken daily with boiled warm milk,  it is a good remedy for chronic headaches. It is good for anxiety, hysteria, nervousness, insomnia and often is combined with other nervine herbs.   (6)

Relieves nervous debility, anxiety, tension, headaches of nervous origin, neuralgia.    (8)

Internal uses — bronchitis:  infusion*.  Colds, coughs:  mix powder with honey and take in 1/4 tsp doses as needed.  Convulsions:  tincture, fluid extract, infusion.  Cramps:  powder*, infusion*, fluid extract.  Dizziness, dyspepsia, headache, jaundice, worms:  infusion.  Menstrual cramps:  infusion*, fluid extract*.  Nerve disorders:  infusion*, fluid extract*, powder*.  Nervousness:  infusion, tincture, fluid extract.  Palsy:  infusion*, powder*.

External uses —  old sores and ulcers, splinters, wounds:  poultice of the green herb.

*Usually used in combination with other herbs when treating the indicated problem.

Betony is an excellent remedy for most head problems such as pain in the head, headaches and nerve twitching of the face.  It is used in combination with other herbs for treating rheumatism and other diseases which stem from impurities of the blood.  The infusion and powder has been used to treat jaundice, gout, convulsions and colds.  Betony is frequently combined with other nervines and antispasmodics to treat nerve diseases and to calm the nerves when stress is present from other diseases.  It is good for palsy, insanity, neuralgia, colds and cramps.  The infusion taken three to four times daily in three ounce doses will kill worms and open up obstructions of the liver and gall bladder.  The fresh, green herb, bruised and used as a poultice will draw out splinters and help heal open wounds.    (14)

Aerial Parts: Mainly used for headaches and nervous disorders, the aerial parts are also a good digestive remedy, stimulating and cleansing for the system, with a mild diuretic action.  

Root: Although not commonly used today, the root is regarded as more bitter and specific for the liver with a gentle laxative action.  

For tension headaches: sedative; stimulates cerebral circulation; useful nervine for anxiety and worries. Take an infusion or tincture.  Add sedative nervines such as lavender, St. John’s Wort, and skullcap to the infusion or tincture. 

           For high blood pressure (hypertension): circulatory tonic, relaxant and sedative; calms the heart. Take an infusion or tincture. Can combine with linden or fu ling, especially if stress is contributing to the condition. Use 2 parts wood betony to 1 part other others. 

For anxiety & tension: sedative and calming for the nervous system; good for nervous debility, fearfulness, and exhaustion. Take an infusion or tincture, or take powdered herb in capsules. Good as a simple, or combine with chamomile, vervain, skullcap, or lavender to enhance tonic or sedating action.   

For hysterectomy: sedative, stimulant for cerebral circulation and root chakra; eases anxiety and worry. Take an infusion or tincture. Combine with lavender, vervain, or basil in tincture and infusion or add 10-20 drops chaste-tree tincture to the morning dose.  (15)

Used as a tonic in dyspepsia and as an alterative in rheumatism, scrofula, and impurities of the blood.    (57)

Combinations:    Combine with skullcap for nervous headache.    (8)

Tincture: Use as the infusion. It is especially helpful for nervous headaches; combines well with lavender. Tonic Wine: Macerate 50 g. Betony with 25 g. Each of vervain and hyssop  in 75 cl. White wine for two weeks. Take quarter-cup doses for nervous headaches and tension.                                     For tension headaches: sedative; stimulates cerebral circulation; useful nervine for anxiety and worries. Take an infusion or tincture.  Add sedative nervines such as lavender, St. John’s Wort, and skullcap to the infusion or tincture.                    

For high blood pressure (hypertension): circulatory tonic, relaxant and sedative; calms the heart. Take an infusion or tincture. Can combine with linden or fu ling, especially if stress is contributing to the condition. Use 2 parts wood betony to 1 part other others.

For anxiety & tension: sedative and calming for the nervous system; good for nervous debility, fearfulness, and exhaustion. Take an infusion or tincture, or take powdered herb in capsules. Good as a simple, or combine with chamomile, vervain, skullcap, or lavender to enhance tonic or sedating action.   

For hysterectomy: sedative, stimulant for cerebral circulation and root chakra; eases anxiety and worry. Take an infusion or tincture. Combine with lavender, vervain, or basil in tincture and infusion or add 10-20 drops chaste-tree tincture to the morning dose.  (15)

Generally combined with other remedies.    (57)

Precautions:    No known hazards or side effects with designated dosages.    (2)

Wood betony is a uterine stimulant, so avoid in pregnancy; may be taken during labor….Avoid high doses in pregnancy….Large doses can cause  vomiting  (15)

                                                                                                                                     

Tincturing Process:

Applications:    Steep 5-15 min.;  3 oz., 3-4 x daily.  Tincture:  30-60 drops (1/2-1 tsp) 3-4 x daily.  Fluid extract:  1/2-1 tsp. 3 x daily.  Powder:  5-10 #0 capsules (30-60 grains) 3-4 x daily.    (14)

Aerial parts–

          Infusion: Take low doses (1 tsp per cup) as a relaxing and tonic herb for general use. Take in therapeutic doses for menstrual pain, migraines and other headaches, nervous tension, or as a digestive stimulant and cleanser. During difficult or painful labor, drink a hot infusion.

          Tincture: Use as the infusion. It is especially helpful for nervous headaches; combines well with lavender. Also useful as a cleansing herb in toxic and arthritic conditions.  

          Poultice: Apply pounded fresh herb to wounds and bruises.

          Wash: Bathe leg ulcers and infected wounds in the infusion.

                      Mouthwash/Gargle: Use the infusion for mouth ulcers, gum inflammations,                                                             and sore throats.

Tonic Wine: Macerate 50 g. Betony with 25 g. Each of vervain and hyssop in           75 cl. White wine for two weeks. Take quarter-cup doses for nervous headaches and           tension.      SOURCE?

 

Divination:

Dosage:  standard infusion or 3‑9 gms.;  tincture, 10‑30 drops   (6)

The infusion of an ounce to a pint of boiling water is taken in half-cup doses.  Liquid extract dose, 1/2-1 drachm.    (57)

General Notes: “…it is good whether for a man’s soul or his body; it shields him against visions and dreams.” Herbarium Apuleii, Saxon translation, c. 9th century                                 The most important Anglo-Saxon herb, wood betony has no fewer than 29 uses in treating physical diseases and was also possibly the most popular amulet herb, used well into the Middle Ages to ward off evil or ill humors. In 1597, Gerard gave a long list of applications, adding that “it maketh a man to pisse well.” Today, wood betony is neglected by many herbalists: it is, however, worth rediscovering.    (15)

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References:

(2)  PDR for Herbal Medicines (Medical Economics Co., 1998), pgs. 690-91

(6) Planetary Herbology by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., pgs. 355-356

(8)  The New Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman, p. 179

(14) Natural Healing With Herbs by Humbart Santillo BS, MH, pgs. 193-94

(15) The Complete Medicinal Herbal by Penelope Ody, pgs. 99,132-33,148-4,162-63,168-69

(57) Potter’s Cyclopaedia by R.C. Wren, F.L.S., p. 375