Archive for category Betony'

Wood Betony (Stachys officinalis)

Family: Lamiaceae Part used: aerial parts The genus contains over 270 species and is divided into sections. Recently Stachys officinalis (L.) Trevis. was placed in section Betonica of subgenus Betonica with Stachys alopecuros. The genus has been revised more than once and Stachys betonica L. and Betonica officinalis are synonyms for Stachys officinalis. Stachys officinalis is a hardy perennial and found throughout Europe on open grassland and woodland. Erect, straight, unbranched square stems (15-40 cm) bear narrow stem leaves. The stalked basal leaves are oval and bluntly toothed with a heart-shaped base. Dense, terminal, cylindrical spikes of reddish-purple magenta flowers occur in summer. The cylindrical flowerheads distinguish it from woundworts. The flowers are tubular with five lobes, the lower three lobes are bent back, and there are axillary flowers with a characteristic pair of leafy bracts below each whorl of flowers. The fruit is composed of four small nutlets hidden in the persistent, smooth five-toothed calyx. Other species used The woundworts such as hedge woundwort Stachys sylvatica are traditionally used for healing wounds but cannot be substituted for Stachys officinalis. Stachys sylvatica grows Read more […]

Betony For Digestion

Otherwise Dalechamps and Bauhin are consistent with each other in citing Musa. Concerning the organs of digestion, 4 drachms (16 g) of the leaves eaten daily for 3 days or taken in 4 cyathi (180 mL) of cooled water soothe pains of the stomach, and of the liver and intestines if taken in hot water, while in wine they heal defects of the spleen and allay inflammation of the colon. If the pain in the intestines is due not to ‘crude juices’ but to constipation, this dose taken in double the quantity of water, this time honeyed, will comfortably move the bowels. A lesser amount of herb, 3 drachms or 12 g, in goat’s milk drunk for 3 days allays the vomiting of blood. Betony taken frequently in wine treats jaundice, and generally prevents drunkenness, removes a loathing for food and corrects dyspepsia. Musa’s recommendations place much weight on the volumes of liquid in which the herb is taken and whether it is hot or cold. Dioscorides insists that the dried, powdered herb, kept in a clay pot, is the correct preparation of the herb, suggesting that the powder is simply stirred into the liquids which Musa proposes. Furthermore, Dalechamps and Bauhin emphasize how different the powers of the leaves and flowers are from those Read more […]

Betony: Genito-Urinary Uses

Other abdominal pains for which betony may be used relate to the urinary system and reproductive organs. Honey is required in the vehicle for kidney problems. Dalechamps and Bauhin report Musa advising 2 drachms (8 g) of herb mixed with honey for defects of the kidneys and double this dose in 4 cyathi of water (180 mL) to break stones. With the addition of 27 peppercorns and no honey, the herb is good for pains in the sides, which may refer to ureteric pain. Since the recommendation for dropsy follows that for stones, this may indicate oedema of renal origin, although ascites cannot be ruled out. Certainly Dioscorides specifies oedemata after kidney problems and bladder pain, for which 2 drachms (8 g) in honey water is the dose. He claims betony is diuretic, as does Galen, who confirms its use in kidney stones. On the other hand, Macer speaks of dropsy and this is how Dioscorides’ oedemata is interpreted by Fuchs and the other Renaissance writers. The Old English Herbarium also offers recipes for both pains in the side and pains in the loins. In both cases betony is taken with peppercorns, 27 in the former recipe and 17 in the latter, the herbs being powdered and gently boiled in aged wine. Three cupfuls are taken warm Read more […]

Betony And The Nervous System

When Musa includes three treatments with betony for the nervous system, one concerns trauma and probably both the other two bear some relation to indications contemplated by modern practitioners. Firstly, the leaves powdered and applied heal severed nerves. Other traumas appearing elsewhere in Musa’s list of conditions are ruptures, and in those who have tumbled down from a high place, for which 3 drachms (12 g) in old wine is used. It is not clear whether internal or external administration is meant here, but the former is presumed, since The Old English Herbarium specifies internal ruptures and Dioscorides mentions ruptures with spasms, uterine problems and suffocations, for which cases he advises 1 drachm of the powdered leaves in water or honey water. We have already noted, too, when discussing mugwort, that uterine suffocations are renamed hysterical affections in the later tradition. To this supposed nervous state we can add Musa’s ‘unnerved’ or enfeebled condition (Bauhin’s ‘resolutos’), unless another traumatic injury such as the wrenching of a joint is meant. The Salernitan herbal, however, advises betony for those in a weakened state, where 1 drachm (4 g) in 3 cyathi (135 mL) of good wine taken daily for 5 Read more […]

Betony: Other Applications

Wood alone among the modern authors also mentions a lower respiratory condition treatable with betony, namely bronchitis. The respiratory tract is in fact another body system for which betony is recorded as having uses. Dale-champs and Bauhin state Musa’s recommendation of the herb in warm water as beneficial to those sighing and breathing with difficulty; while the leaves in honey help consumptives, especially those who cough up purulent matter. Betony in an eclegma, or thick syrup made from honey, sometimes conveyed to the mouth on a root of liquorice which is licked clean, and taken for 9 days eases a cough. Dioscorides also mentions betony with honey for tuberculosis and for internal abscesses, while 3 obols (1.7 g) of the powdered herb in 1 cyathos (45 mL) of tepid and diluted wine helps those that spit blood (haemoptysis). Galen states that betony cleanses the lungs and Serapio repeats this, adding a strengthening action. None of these points is listed in the Old English Herbarium. The Salernitan herbal repeats Musa and Dioscorides, but with different dosages or length of administration of the remedy. Macer mentions cough only. These indications are once again passed down in full or in part through Read more […]