Skip to main content


What is Betony?

Betony is a square-stemmed perennial of the mint family. It is distributed widely throughout western and southern Europe. It has a rosette of hairy leaves with pink, white, or purple flowers that bloom from June to September. The plant reaches a height of 1 m. The aboveground parts are dried and used medicinally. It is native to Europe and often is cultivated as a garden ornamental.

Scientific Name(s)

Stachys officinalis

Common Name(s)

Betony is also known as wood betony, purple betony, bishop's wort, and common hedge nettle.

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, when it was considered a remedy for a wide variety of diseases. 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 used 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).

General uses

Experimental or clinical studies to support the many traditional uses of betony are limited. Antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory effects have been demonstrated in animal or in vitro studies only.

What is the recommended dosage?

Clinical evidence is lacking.


Contraindications have not yet been identified.


Avoid use. Documented adverse effects.


None well documented.

Side Effects

No data.


Overdosage may cause stomach irritation.


1. Betony. Review of Natural Products. Facts & Comparisons [database online]. St. Louis, MO: Wolters Kluwer Health Inc; October 2014.

More about betony

Professional resources

Related treatment guides

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.