Common Name: Wood Betony

Botanical Names: Betonica officinalis, Stachys officinalis

Family: Lamiaceae or Labiatae (Mint) Family

Habitat: Woodland areas, sometimes on the edges of woods or open spaces.  Naturalized in Europe, especially Great Britain.  The species Stachys palustris grows throughout temperate and subarctic North America.

Where found in Minnesota: Stachys palustris grows throughout the Minnesota region.  It is also commonly cultivated in gardens.  The two species mentioned here look similar, Stachys palustris having larger leaves all the way up the stem.  Both of these species seem to have been used for similar issues.

Parts Used: The aerial parts are used for headaches, nervous disorders and as a digestive remedy.  The root is less commonly used, its use being specific for the liver and as a gentle laxative.

Collection Time: Aerial parts are harvested in the summer during flowering.

Preparations: Tincture and infusion (internally for headaches, tension, digestive stimulant and cleanser in toxic and arthritic conditions), tonic wine (macerated in wine with vervain and hyssop for nervous headaches and tension), fresh poultice (for wounds and bruises), wash (use the infusion to wash leg ulcers and infected wounds), gargle (mouth ulcers, inflamed gums, and sore throats)

Energetics: Cool, astringent, bitter-sweet

Actions: Astringent, sedative, mild diuretic, nervine

Historical Uses: An important Anglo-Saxon herb used well into the Middle Ages to ward off evil or ill humors and was once considered a cure-all.

Native American History: Once used by the Ojibwe as a medicine for colic.

Folk Uses: European folk uses as a remedy for gout and vertigo.

Flower Essence Usage: Groundedness especially for those that are delusional or paranoid, or who have other anxiety disorders.  Helps to center and calm.

Use in Gender Specific or Age Specific Ways: Matthew Wood suggests that this herb is an important herb for the elderly where there is weak digestion, pallor, poor assimilation, and weak gallbladder reflexes.

**Cautions: This herb is a uterine stimulant.  Safe to use during labor, but avoid during pregnancy.


Wood, Matthew.  The Earthwise Herbal:  A Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants.  Berkeley, CA:  North Atlantic Books.  2008.  Print.

Ody, Penelope.  Essential Guide to Natural Home Remedies.  London:  Kyle Cathie Limited, 2002.  Print.

Ody, Penelope.  The Complete Medicinal Herbal.  New York, NY:  Dorling Kindersley, Inc.  1993.  Print.

Moyle, John B. and Evelyn W. Moyle.  Northland Wildflowers:  The Comprehensive Guide to the Minnesota Region.  Revised Edition.  Minneapolis, MN:  University of Minnesota Press.  2001.  Print.


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