Wood Betony: At a Glance
Wood betony is an herb made from the plant of the same name. This plant, a member of the mint family, is sometimes called the common hedgenettle, purple betony, and bishopwort.
Wood betony has a long history as a medicinal herb. The name betony comes from the Celtic words bew, meaning head, and ton, meaning good. The herb got its name because it was used to treat a variety of head-related disorders, including headaches and migraines, anxiety, and hangovers. Wood betony can be made into teas and tinctures, used in ointments, and much more. It has a mild, complex taste that many people enjoy.
Cooking With Wood Betony
Most people today use wood betony for herbal tea. Cover a teaspoon of dried wood betony with a cup of boiling water. Let the solution steep for five minutes before straining the herbs. Wood betony tea tastes a lot like regular black tea, yet it contains no caffeine. Just like black tea, you can add honey or lemon to your taste. Herbalists believe wood betony tea can aid relaxation and prevent a host of health complaints.
While hot wood betony tea is tastiest, it has great medicinal properties when cold. Herbalists say gargling with cool tea can improve inflamed gums and sore throats.
If you prefer a tincture, place dried wood betony to one-third of a quart or pint canning jar. Finish filling the jar with 100-proof vodka or brandy. Screw the lid on and shake your solution. Store it in a dry place for 6 weeks. Strain the herbs and put your tincture in a dropper bottle. Taking 15 drops three times daily should treat and prevent headaches.
Wood Betony: History and Origination
Wood betony has been celebrated for centuries for its medicinal properties. According to Roman philosopher Pliny the Elder, the Vettones, a pre-Roman people dating back to the 3rd century BC, may have been the first to use wood betony as an herbal medicine.
Physicians like Antonius Musa, the Roman emperor Caesar Augustus’ chief doctor, claimed he treated 47 different diseases with the herb. The superstitious doctor also felt wood betony provided protection from sorcery and the supernatural. His beliefs saw wood betony planted in churchyards to prevent ghosts causing mischief.
An old Welsh saying claims wood betony can prevent nightmares. It suggested “to prevent dreaming, take the leaves of betony, and hang about your neck, or else drink the juice on going to bed.”
Italians believed wood betony was such a powerful cold preventative that a proverb from the Middle Ages says to “Sell your coat and buy betony.” In Spain, it became a great compliment for people to say “He has as many virtues as betony,” a reference to the herb’s many benefits. Closer to home, John Sauer, a Colonial American herbalist, wrote, “There is no illness brought by cold in which betony cannot be administered effectively.”
Wood betony was a key ingredient in an herbal mix called pistoja powder. This traditional concoction was claimed to treat arthritis and gout. It was also said to prevent intoxication and bites from snakes and dogs.
In Austria, wood betony is a traditional treatment for respiratory and gastrointestinal disorders, nervous system complaints, skin conditions, and gynecological concerns. Austrian herbalists encouraged their clients to make wood betony tea, bathe in water containing the herb, or use it in a compress.
Modern herbalists also sing wood betony’s praises. They use the herb to treat migraines, high blood pressure, heartburn, neuralgia, gallstones, excessive sweating, and anxiety. Wood betony ointments may help cuts and sores heal faster.
Cultivation of Wood Betony
Wood betony is native to Europe’s dry grasslands, open woods, and meadows. However, over time it has spread to similar habitats in western Asia, northern Africa, and parts of the United States. This plant has spikes of purple flowers and rough, hairy leaves.
Wood betony grows easily from seeds, cuttings, and root divisions. It thrives in fertile soil with good drainage and enjoys full sun or partial shade. Mature wood betony plants are between 1 and 2 feet tall. The wood betony plant flowers annually from July to September.
Once the seedlings are established, they require little care. Growers simply divide the plants every three or four years when they notice their crowns declining.
Wood betony can be harvested once the plants are established. The entire wood betony plant is used for the herb. For the best quality herb, growers harvest the leaves, stems, and buds right before the plant flowers. After harvesting, the wood betony is dried for sale.
About Our Wood Betony
Our wood betony is proudly sourced from growers right here in the United States. This means that when you choose Burma Spice wood betony, you’re choosing to support our local herb and spice industry.