Wood Betony

Botanical Name: Betonica officinalis (Stachys officinalis) | Family: Labiatae (Mint family)

Common name(s): Wood Betony, Betony


  • Perennial, herbaceous | zones 5-8 | 1′ tall | purple blooms from midsummer, on
  • Woodland plant, prefers a moist / shady growing habitat. Will grow in clay. Not a rapid spreader. Seeds need to be stratified for several weeks if starting indoors.


Collect aerial parts just before the flowers bloom. Dry carefully in the sun.


Infusion: 1 cup boiling water onto 1 – 2 teaspoon dried herb. Let sit for 10-15 minutes.

Tincture: take 2 – 6ml of tincture 3x/day.


Constituents: Alkaloids including betonicine, stachydrene and trigonelline

Actions: sedative, nervine tonic, bitter, astringent

Uses: tension headaches, anxiety, sedative, neuralgia (minor aches and pains). Feeds and strengthens the central nervous system.

Combinations: combines well with skullcap for treating nervous headaches, and with equal parts ferverfew, rosemary and skullcap for migraines/nervous headaches


  • Bitter, cool
  • Nervous system, liver, heart


  • Holistic Herbal, David Hoffman
  • *The Way of Herbs, Michael Tierra
  • Homegrown Herbs, Tammi Hartung
  • www.herbcraft.org
  • photo credit: original by Nigel Jones via photopin cc. Modified by me to enhance brightness and contrast.

Note: Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide shows a completely different plant, Lousewort (Pedicularus canadensis), which also is called Betony or Wood Betony.

In my last wildcrafting class conducted by Emily of Sweetgrass Herbals, she gave me some wood betony seeds, which I’ll plant in the orchard next year!