Betony

Scientific names: Stachys officinalis

Common names: Betony also is known as wood betony and bishop wort. The genus often is collectively referred to as hedge-nettles.

Efficacy-safety rating:

ÒÒ...Ethno or other evidence of efficacy.

Safety rating:

...Little exposure or very minor concerns.

What is Betony?

Betony is a square-stemmed perennial of the mint family. It is distributed widely throughout western and southern Europe. The above-ground parts are dried and used medicinally. It is native to Europe and often is cultivated as a garden ornamental. It also was referred to as Betonica officinalis in some older texts.

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What is it used for?

Traditional/Ethnobotanical uses

Few plants have as widespread a history as betony. Its use has been known since the Roman Empire, where it was considered a panacea for practically every disease. During the Middle Ages, the plant was ascribed magical powers. Today the plant continues to be used in traditional medicine. A weak infusion sometimes is taken as a tea. It is used as an astringent to treat diarrhea and as a gargle or tea for irritations of the mouth and throat. It has been given to treat anxiety and has been given as a tincture or smoked for the treatment of headache. The name “betony” may derive from the Celtic form of “bew” (a head) and “ton” (good).

Astringent/Antidiarrheal

Because of its high tannin content, betony is used as an astringent to treat diarrhea and as a gargle or tea for mouth and throat irritations. Research reveals no animal or clinical data regarding the use of betony as an antidiarrheal.

Sedative

Betony possesses sedative properties, relieving nervous stress and tension. It still is used as a remedy for headache and facial pain. Research reveals no animal or clinical data regarding the use of betony as a sedative. In combination with herbs such as comfrey or linden, betony is effective for sinus headache and congestion.

What is the recommended dosage?

There is no recent clinical evidence to guide dosage of betony.

How safe is it?

Contraindications

Contraindications have not yet been identified.

Pregnancy/nursing

Documented adverse effects. Avoid use.

Interactions

None well documented.

Side Effects

No data.

Toxicities

Overdosage can cause stomach irritation, and betony should not be taken during pregnancy.

References

  1. Betony. Review of Natural Products. factsandcomparisons4.0 [online]. 2005. Available from Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. Accessed April 16, 2007.

Copyright © 2009 Wolters Kluwer Health

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