Wood Betony (Stachys officinalis) is a perennial herb that is hardy to Zone 4. Like many other members of the mint family, S. officinalis has square stems with short, fine hairs. Toothed leaves grow at the base of the plant, and in mid to late summer, spiked heads of tubular, red-violet blooms appear atop 2- to 3-foot stems.
Modern Uses for Wood Betony
Herbalists use Wood Betony tea to treat head-related afflictions (including migraines, toothaches, anxiety and sleeping troubles). Betony is also used by some as a treatment for diarrhea, mouth and throat irritations, and skin conditions. A Russian study found that betony contains glycosides, which may lower blood pressure—one possible explanation for the herb’s reputed ability to relieve headaches and anxiety. According to Tyler’s Honest Herbal (Routledge, 1999) by Steven Foster and Varro Tyler, betony contains about 15 percent tannins, which supports its use as an astringent to treat diarrhea, mouth and throat irritations, and skin problems. You can find more information at the The Herb Companion.
Harvesting and Preparation
- Wash the Wood Betony stems to remove any dirt or debris. Carefully trim the blossoms and roots off, and discard.
- Bind the bottoms of the Wood Betony stems into a bundle with the twine. Tie securely, and form a loop with the ends of the twine. Hang the bundle upside down by the loop in a warm place. Allow to dry for about two weeks.
- Remove the twine from the bundle of dehydrated Wood Betony and discard. Finely chop the stems and leaves into small pieces.
For relaxation or for use as a general tonic, a tea can be made by covering 1 teaspoon dried betony leaves with 1 cup of boiling water, steep for about 5 to 10 minutes. It tastes much like black tea (made from Camellia sinensis) but contains no caffeine. Don’t over steep, your tea will become bitter. For sore throats and gum inflammations, gargle with the cool tea. (Caution: Wood betony is a uterine stimulant and should not be used during pregnancy. Excessive doses of the herb also can cause vomiting.)
The statements made here have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure or prevent any disease. Research any medicinal claims and discuss this with your doctor.