If you look for information on Wood Betony in the Old Literature, it’ll seem a bit like this mint-family member is good for just about all that ails you. It’s listed as being good for everything from food poisoning to colds and flus to chronic digestive complaints, snake bites to PMS to severe head injuries, and loads of pains of many sorts.
Does Wood Betony Really Work?
Reality is, Wood Betony is not a real panacea. Wood Betony is a complex and powerful plant that offers us a huge opportunity to heal. What we want to heal…that’s up to us.
This is one of the keys to recognizing where Wood Betony can help you work miracles. Wood Betony’s call is to heal by returning your power home to your powercenter and balancing it there. Energetically, your power center is your solar plexis. Physically, your digestive system supports this, since a majority of our body’s energy comes from the foods and drinks we digest. Culturally, your power center is seated in your mind. Humans have long distinguished ourselves from all other animal species by noting our “superior brains” and “ability to make and use tools.” While those ideas may not be as indisputable as we’ve asserted, they point to how strongly we’ve identified with the Brain or Head as the center of true power in this world.
When we give our power away or otherwise lose our power, our systems weaken. That can manifest as digestive problems, as in being unable to stomach a situation. It can manifest as inability to concentrate or think clearly, as happens with headaches and a variety of hormonal imbalances. It can also happen when we suffer from attacks, like IBS- or Crohn’s Disease-style diarrhea or chronic migraines or PMS. How it manifests really depends a lot on the many details of your existance; your DNA, past history, current thinking, fears and anxieties or other emotional stuff, Toxins or microbes to which you’ve been exposed, diet and lifestyle, environment…an a host of other potential factors all weigh in to choose how your body will express itself.
Wood Betony works to help you strengthen the weakened areas by reclaiming your power and balancing the systems at have been affected. We can look at the phytochemical actions it offers or the energetic signatures it displays or the list of herbal actions associated with it, but the core of Wood Betony’s healing is centered on the stomach and brain, with it’s side-effects relating to the rest of the digestive system and nervous system and radiating outward from there. In all cases, Wood Betony is working toward healing weakness and balancing systems.
Now, can you see how Wood Betony can be almost panacea in nature?
Will Wood Betony Work?
Most herbalists use Wood Betony either as a simple or as a support herb in formulation.
As a simple, Wood Betony can work a lot of change, but it’s not necessarily for everyone. Matthew Wood describes the Wood Betony person as being generally thin and perhaps tall, frail or elderly, disconnected or disassociated, and often pale, wan, or leaden in complexion. Symptoms may include
- digestive upset and poor absorption;
- stomach problems of other sorts including ulcers;
- anxious or worried, potentially with complaints of demon posession or alien abduction or similar experiences of being disempowered;
- neuralgia or other chronic pain;
- headache with or without a history of head injury;
- general weakness of the body or parts of the body;
- circulation-related skin problems like ulcers or varicose veins; and
- potential overheating at night.
The short-hand for Wood’s picture of the Wood Betony type is frail and disempowered in some manner. For these folks, Wood Betony taken as a simple can work wonderfully. Often, you’ll want to consider Wood Betony for a longer-term in these sorts of cases. Wood Betony’s actions are powerful, but they’re also generally gentle, building up over time to help the indiviual heal themselves naturally rather than triggering a sudden shift their weakened systems cannot assimilate.
Wood Betony for Digestive Complaints
Folks who don’t quite match up to Matthew Wood’s picture of the Wood Betony person may well benefit from Wood Betony as a supporter in formulation with other herbs. A perfect example is with folks who struggle with chronic digestive problems, like IBS/IBD or Crohn’s Disease. Often, those chronic challenges are connected with some kind of trauma…maybe some deep emotional experience or maybe something more surface and seemingly innocuous. It really doesn’t matter what the incident or trigger was. What matters is it caused a loss of power resulting in a weakness in the person’s ability to digest the experince, which manifested at some point as a chronic digestive condition. Wood Betony works in partnership with other herbs to help heal that older wound while bringing balance and power back into the current situation.
Consider partnering Wood Betony with herbs that heal the mucilage and tissues of the digestive system gently. Chamomile, Plantain, and Marshmallow leaf are prime examples. All three stimulate healing to the mucus membranes that line the gut and stomach walls to differing degrees. For folks who tend to be too warm, a mild diaphoretic and immune supportive herb like Yarrow may be a good partner. Folks who are adverse to the cold may prefer a mildly warming diaphoretic and immune supportive herb like Lemon Verbena or Monarda or Lemon Balm. If low energy is a part of the symptom picture, consider Damiana or Tulsi to bring a balanced and gentle energy boost to the system. This is particularly helpful when digestion tends to be sluggish.
Emotional Support When using Wood Betony
When using Wood Betony to help heal digestive complaints, it is wise pair the formula with tools for processing emotional experiences. As Wood Betony works with the rest of the herbal team to rebalance and heal the body, emotions and potentially memories or past experiences may arise. Just as we want to help the body to better digest and assimilate the foods and drinks we take, so too do we need to digest and assimilate the emotional experiences that come up. Therapy can be a terrific tool. Working with a therapist who has an herbal background can be particularly helpful. Consider working with non-tradtional healers, like Reiki practitioners or Shamans or other Energy Healers who have experience and comfort in walking through those challenging emotional spaces, too. Even personal tools, like meditation, yoga, journaling, and personal journeywork can be powerful in helping us to come to terms with whatever experiences we need to digest.
Wood Betony for Headaches…what kind of Headache?
Headaches come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They can stem from a multitude of causes, too. Wood Betony can help with many of them as a supporter, but you may want to isolate the cause of the headache before you design your formula.
Wood Betony for Migraines and Hormonal Headaches
Migraines that are rooted in hormonal flux, often accompanied with mood swings, depression and anxiety, or irritability, may be connected to the Liver channel. The semi-sciencey short-hand explaination is that the liver organ is overwhelmed with trying to process all the estrogen-based hormones (cortisols and related stress hormones included) that it cannot keep up. It overheats, causing mild to intense headaches potentially accompanied with hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, and digestive strife. This is common in adolescence for all humans. It can persist for some individuals through their early adulthood, potentially quieting down awhile only to return for the middle- to elder-years in the form of PMS and Perimenopausal or Andropausal conditions. It can also occur as a result of an improper diet, often one heavy on foods and drinks like factory-farmed or even organic meats, dairy, wheat or grains, sugar, and alcohol.
For headaches that seem rooted in the Liver channel, consider a combination of analgesic herbs like Willow, Meadowsweet, or Jamacan Dogwood, paired with herbs that support the Liver channel and organ alongside Wood Betony. Dandelion, White Peony, and Bupleurum are good choices for supporting and moving Liver energy. In such a formula, Wood Betony will help bring balance to the system while stimulating appropriate digestion as the body recovers.
Wood Betony for Tension and Stress Headaches and Migraines
Tension and stress can create mild headaches to intense migraines. In this case, Wood Betony partners well with nervine herbs that help release muscular-skeletal tension. Milky Oats, Skullcap, and Kava are all potential partners. Lavender or Rosemary is another possibility, too.
Here, it’s helpful to get a good idea of the kind of release the individual needs. When the nervous system is deleted, Milky Oats partnered with Wood Betony can help replenish both electrical current and the ability for the nerves to carry that current. Endless racing thoughts may be a good indicator for Skullcap instead or in addition. Kava is helpful when there’s an emotional-community concern element, such as is the case when the individual is particularly worried about handling interpersonal conflicts or concerned about keeping or creating peace in relationships. Rosemary and Lavender help when work or head-issues are the crux of the tension. Lavender is my favorite when energy levels are not an issue, Rosemary for when they are.
In all cases, Wood Betony helps bring balance to the nervous system and supports the individual in returning power to their center. Wood Betony can help one recognize the best direction in which to move to allieviate the cause of all that stress and tension…and to recognize where they don’t have power to affect change and thus can just let go of the reins.
Wood Betony for Head Injury
Headache rooted in head injury can potentially eased by Wood Betony as a simple or in formula. Treating this type of headache gets complex fast. Wood Betony is not a good choice without the supervision of a medical professional. Under the guidance of an experienced herbalist and a good medical professional, you can develop a protocol that addresses the specifics of the injury, including the stage it’s at now and the level of severity of the initial injury. You’ll need to take into account any pharmaceuticals or other treatents that are in use before including any herbal formula in the treatment plan. Look at Wood Betony in particular when the head injury has left the individual with a sense of being disassociated or seeming to be not fully present. Personality changes resulting in more timidity or a victim-complex may also be indicators for Wood Betony as might forgetfullness and lack of ability to focus.
Cautions for using Wood Betony
Wood Betony is generally regarded as safe for all individuals. It is wise to consult with your medical professional before taking Wood Betony if you’re using any prescription drugs or pharmaceutical medications. Pregnant women may want to avoid Wood Betony as it is considered a uterine stimulant and was traditionally used at the end of pregnancy to assist with labor pains, support a healthy birthing process. People who have experienced unresolved trauma or those who may have mental instability rooted in past trauma may want to be cautius in using Wood Betony unless they have a strong and healthy support system as Wood Betony may cause those old wounds to resurface.