Wood Betony, aka Stachys officinalis and formerly known as Betonica officinalis, is regaining it’s former popularity among modern herbalists. It’s about time, I say. We most definitely need to stomach a lot of challenge, a lot of fear and anxiety, a lot of sorrow and grief, and a lot of toxicity in our modern world. We need strong and steady stomach medicine, which is right up Wood Betony’s ally.
Use of Wood Betony as a Home Remedy
Modern Herbalists reach for Wood Betony for a variety of complaints ranging from anxiety and worry to chronic digestive complaints to headaches. Often, the common denominator is unprocessed trauma, which can be of a seemingly minor intensity to one of grand porportions. Even those who have worked with therapy and other modalities to heal through the challenging events of their lives may benefit from Wood Betony’s ability to move the body and any remaining stuck parts in the direction of grounded health and well-being.
Toxicity and stress, too, can create trauma from the body’s perspective even when we don’t recognize the sources of those experiences as traumatic from an intellectual standpoint. Sarah Corbett aptly describes Wood Betony as “an immensely gentle by extremely powerful plant that helps to create a sense of groundedness.” That downward-directed energy that grounds one into one’s body is echoed in Aidan Blank’s Wood Betony Monograph, where he describes Wood Betony as a stomach remedy that helps us re-awaken connection with our deeply intuitive gut often called gut-instinct.
Growing Wood Betony
According to Ravensong Herbs, Wood Betony’s native habitat in England and Wales is open grasslands where it thrives in full sun and temperate conditions. This perennial member of the Mint family tends to grow compactly with a mounding habit with purple flowers. When established, expect your Wood Betony to be roughly two feet (xm) tall and 1-2 feet across through the sunny summer months (July-September in the Northern Hemisphere, January-March in the Southern Hemisphere). Wood Betony is a boon to bees and butterflies alike, making it a good choice for your pollinator plantings.
Harvest and Making Medicine with Wood Betony
Pick the fresh tops before Wood Betony flowers, usually through Summer. Dried Wood Betony makes a lovely tea and tinctures well. The flavor is reminicent of green tea with less astringency and stimulation. Wood Betony makes a good simple or can be added to formulas for short-term or chronic digestive complaints, headaches and insomnia, emotional disturbances including anxiety and depression, and more.