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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 31, 2020.

Scientific Name(s): Stachys lavandulifolia Vahl, Stachys officinalis (L.) Trevisan.
Common Name(s): Betony, Bishop's wort, Common hedge nettle, Purple betony, Wood betony

Clinical Overview


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


Aerial wood betony tea at a dose of 5 g per 100 mL 3 times daily for 3 months was found to be as effective as medroxyprogesterone in women with polycystic ovary syndrome.


Contraindications have not yet been identified.


Avoid use; documented adverse effects.


None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Dyspepsia is the only adverse effect associated with the genus Stachys.


Overdosage may cause stomach irritation.

Scientific Family

  • Lamiaceae (mint)


Betony is a square-stemmed, mat-forming perennial of the mint family. It is distributed widely throughout western and southern Europe. It has a rosette of hairy leaves and a dense terminal spike of pink, white, or purple flowers that bloom from June to September. The plant reaches a height of 1 m, and the aboveground parts are dried and used medicinally. It is native to Europe and is often cultivated as a garden ornamental.Duke 1989, USDA 2014 S. lavandulifolia is used commonly in Iran.Jalilian 2013


The use of betony has been known since the ancient Roman Empire, during which it was considered a panacea for a wide variety of diseases. In the Middle Ages, the plant was ascribed magical powers and continues to be used in traditional medicine today. A weak infusion is sometimes taken as a tea, and it is also 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 headaches. The name "betony" may be derived from the Celtic form of bew (a head) and ton (good).Chevallier 1996, Duke 1989


Betony contains about 15% tannins, which account for its astringency. It also contains stachydrine, oxystachydrine, caffeoylquinic, caffeic, chlorogenic and rosmarinic acids, achillein, betaine, betonicin, choline, harpagide, and turicine. A report lists 6 phenylethanoid glycosides from the aerial parts of the plant. Sesquiterpenes, flavonoids, and hydrocarbons have been identified.Duke 1989, Lazarević 2013, Miyase 1996

Uses and Pharmacology

Experimental or clinical studies to support the many traditional uses ascribed to betony are limited.


Animal data

Extracts of the aerial plant parts showed anti-inflammatory activity in the carrageenan paw edema model in rats.Háznagy-Radnai 2012

Clinical data

Research reveals no clinical data regarding the potential anti-inflammatory effects of betony.


Animal data

In vitro studies suggest the essential oil of S. officinalis may have antifungal efficacy against Aspergillus and Candida albicans.Lazarević 2013

Clinical data

Research reveals no clinical data regarding the use of betony as an antimicrobial agent.

Antioxidant activity

Animal data

Depending on the extraction method, S. officinalis demonstrated significant antioxidant properties including in a lipid peroxidation assay.Matkowski 2006

Clinical data

Research reveals no clinical data regarding the use of betony for its potential antioxidant properties.


The effect of S. lavandulifolia was compared with medroxyprogesterone for its effect on abnormal uterine bleeding in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in a 3-month randomized, controlled trial (n=66). Women were randomized to either 10 days of medroxyprogesterone (10 mg/day on days 14 to 24 of 3 consecutive cycles) or daily tea from the aerial parts of wood betony (5 g per 100 mL 3 times daily starting on day 1 of the first cycle and continuing through the last day of the 3rd cycle). Both wood betony tea and medroxyprogesterone significantly improved abnormal uterine bleeding symptoms with an age-adjusted reduction in prevalence rates of −1.8 and −1.6, respectively (P<0.001 for each). Wood betony was not inferior to medroxyprogesterone, as the difference in magnitude of effect between them was not significant. However, the reduction in abnormal sonographic findings was significantly better with wood betony (−51.5) compared to medroxyprogesterone (−9.1; P=0.036). Although no statistically significant difference was observed in adverse effects between the 2 treatment groups, approximately 9.1% of women in the wood betony group developed amenorrhea after the 3-month treatment period, whereas the incidence at baseline was 0%.Jalilian 2013


There is no recent clinical evidence to guide dosage of betony. Traditional instructions include 1 to 2 g of the herb per day in 3 divided doses and 1 ounce of the herb per pint of boiling water.Duke 1989 Aerial wood betony tea at a dose of 5 g per 100 mL 3 times daily for 3 months was found to be as effective as medroxyprogesterone in women with polycystic ovary syndrome.Jalilian 2013

Pregnancy / Lactation

Avoid use; documented adverse effects.Chevallier 1996


None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Information regarding adverse reactions with the use of this product is limited. Dyspepsia is the only reported adverse effect that has been associated with the Stachys genus.Jalilian 2013


Although there is little documented evidence of betony toxicity, overdosage may cause GI irritation because of the tannin content.Chevallier 1996 Betony polyphenols were found to be toxic in animals.Lipkan 1974


Chevallier A. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. New York, NY: DK Publishing; 1996:270.
Duke J. CRC Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press Inc; 1989:457.
Háznagy-Radnai E, Balogh Á, Czigle S, Máthé I, Hohmann J, Blazsó G. Antiinflammatory activities of Hungarian Stachys species and their iridoids. Phytother Res. 2012;26(4):505-509.21887806
Jalilian N, Modarresi M, Rezaie M, Ghaderi L, Bozorgmanesh M. Phytotherapeutic management of polycystic ovary syndrome: role of aerial parts of wood betony (Stachys lavandulifolia). Phytother Res. 2013;27(11):1708-1713.23307315
Lazarević JS, Ðorđević AS, Kitić DV, Zlatković BK, Stojanović GS. Chemical composition and antimicrobial activity of the essential oil of Stachys officinalis (L.) Trevis. (Lamiaceae). Chem Biodivers. 2013;10(7):1335-1349.23847079
Lipkan GN, Maksiutina NP, Zinchenko TV. Primary evaluation of the overall toxicity and anti-inflammatory activity of some plant preparations [article in Ukrainian]. Farm Zh. 1974;29(1):78–81.4463036
Matkowski A, Piotrowska M. Antioxidant and free radical scavenging activities of some medicinal plants from the Lamiaceae. Fitoterapia. 2006;77(5):346-353.16713687
Miyase T, Yamamoto R, Ueno A. Phenylethanoid glycosides from Stachys officinalis. Phytochemistry. 1996;43(2):475-479.8862039
Stachys officinalis. USDA, NRCS. 2006. The PLANTS Database. (, 14 March 2014). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA. Accessed June 9, 2014.


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This product may adversely interact with certain health and medical conditions, other prescription and over-the-counter drugs, foods, or other dietary supplements. This product may be unsafe when used before surgery or other medical procedures. It is important to fully inform your doctor about the herbal, vitamins, mineral or any other supplements you are taking before any kind of surgery or medical procedure. With the exception of certain products that are generally recognized as safe in normal quantities, including use of folic acid and prenatal vitamins during pregnancy, this product has not been sufficiently studied to determine whether it is safe to use during pregnancy or nursing or by persons younger than 2 years of age.

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