Herbal Highlights: Wood Betony

Herbal Highlights: Wood Betony

Herbal Highlights from Arogya Paws:  Wood Betony
By LeAnne

Last week my naturopath looked at the intake information for my visit and asked, “How do you know about Wood Betony?”  (I had it listed as a tincture I had been taking as a supplement).  I told him about my herbal line for pets, which is where I learned about Wood Betony in our search for the best healing and calming remedies for animals.  Since then, Wood Betony has become one of my favorite herbs – not just because of its healing properties, but the lore behind this amazing plant.

If you search Google, you will find articles about Betony and Wood Betony and they will use the words interchangeably. Unfortunately, they are often confusing Wood Betony (Stachys officinalis) and Betony (Pedicularis spp.). While the herbs may appear similar medicinally, it is important to know the difference, as one promotes calm through promoting a healthy nervous system response (Stachys officinalis) and the other focuses on the muscular-skeletal system and isn’t always healing. Always check the botanical nameStachys officianlis is native to Europe and Asia, whereas Pedicularis grows in North America, and is in a completely different family. 

I want to focus on the herb that is in our products “Stachys officinalis”.  This herb has many ‘common names’ including Wood Betony, Hedgenettle, Purple Betony, or Bishop’s Wart. It is part of the mint family, and when brewed has a sweet, earthy and pleasant taste.  As a tincture, it is also sweet and earthy.  For humans, Wood Betony has a long and lengthy history of healing claims, including decreasing anxiety and nervousness, depression, digestive aid, headaches and migraines, and alleviating menopausal symptoms. It is said to bring calmness by assisting the person in re-centering oneself in the heart. Energetically it is said to be cool and calming.

Hildegard of Bingen was a saint that lived in 1100.  She is not only known for her “radical” feminism of the time (she dared to share her visions publicly), but also as a great healer.  In her book, Physica, she talks about the use of Betony to cure love sicknesses, among other healing benefits, and identifies magical properties including protection and keeping evil at bay.  In the Middle Ages, it was perceived as a healing “magical bullet” and the physician of the Roman Emperor of Cesar Augustus treated 47 different ailments with Wood Betony.

Arogya Paws includes Wood Betony in it’s list of herbs, not for the mystical qualities (even though they are fun to learn about) but because of what the veterinary and herbal pet literature tells us about the impacts on animals.  Wood Betony has calming, anti-anxiety properties in animals and gently balances the nervous system.

We want to be clear that our Relax + formula isn’t designed to drug your pet in the traditional sense.  It is formulated to calm the animal by relaxing the nervous system, making anxiety producing situations like loud noises and travel, or separation, more readily tolerated.  It does this gently and naturally.  We want our pets to keep their personalities and awareness, while more confidently moving through those stressful situations that they encounter.

Here is a nice overview by someone who understands the ins and outs of Wood Betony: https://commonwealthherbs.com/betony-herb-of-the-week/

Some References: 

Gören, A. (2014). Use of Stachys Species (Mountain Tea) as Herbal Tea and Food. Records of Natural Products, 8:2, 71-82.

Hoffman, D. (2003). Medical Herbalism:  The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Healing Arts Press: Rochester, Vermont.

Von Bingen, H. (Translated by Throop, P. 1998).  Hildegard von Bingen, Physica: The Complete English Translation of Her Classic Work on Health and Healing. Healing Arts Press: Rochester, Vermont.

Wynn SG, Fougère BJ. Veterinary Herbal Medicine: A Systems-Based Approach. Veterinary Herbal Medicine. 2007:291–409. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-323-02998-8.50024-X. Epub 2009 May 15. PMCID: PMC7151902.

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