Common name: Betony, lousewort
Botanical name: Stachys officinalis
© Martin Wall
Parts used and where grown
Native to Europe, wood betony is now planted in many parts of the world with temperate
climates. The primary portions of the plant that are used as medicine are the leaves and
flowers, though historically the root has also been used. There are many similar species
originating from Eurasia, including Stachys sieboldii (Chinese artichoke, kan lu) and
S. atherocalyx (hedge nettle).
Wood betony has been used
in connection with the following conditions (refer to the individual
health concern for complete information):
Historical or traditional use (may
or may not be supported by scientific studies)
Wood betony was used in European folk herbalism as a remedy for respiratory tract
inflammation, heartburn, urinary tract
inflammation, varicose veins, intestinal worm infestations, and failure to
thrive.1 It was considered a calming remedy and was used for headaches as well as
some forms of neuralgia, including
The active constituents of wood betony have not been clearly identified. The tannins,
alkaloids, glycosides, and volatile oil found in this plant and its cousins may all contribute
to its activity. Almost no research has been conducted on wood betony. Some Russian research
in humans apparently suggests it may promote lactation, though the details of these studies
are not readily available.3 4
How much is usually taken?
A tea of wood betony can be made by steeping 1 to 2 tsp dried leaf and flower in a cup of
water for 15 minutes. One or two cups of this tea can be drunk per day.5 Though
generally better between meals, it can be taken with food for convenience or if there is any
Are there any side effects or interactions?
There are no known adverse effects from use of wood betony other than occasional mild
gastrointestinal upset. Its safety in
pregnancy and breast-feeding is generally unknown, though as noted above it has been
studied in Russia as a way to increase lactation.
At the time of writing, there were no well-known drug interactions
with wood betony.
1. Lust J. The Herb Book. New York: Bantam Books, 1974:116.
2. Mills SY. Out of the Earth: The Essential Book of Herbal
Medicine. Middlesex, UK: Viking Arkana, 1991:576.
3. Stegailo EA, Lebedeva IM, Aronova BN, et al. Treatment of hypogalactia
with an extract of the betonica hedge nettle. Akush Ginekol (Mosk)
1980;(2):19–20 [in Russian].
4. Bakhalova NV, Kharmats DA. Effect of the milk from mothers receiving
methylergometrine and hedge nettle extract on the physical development of the newborn infant.
Zdravookhr Kirg 1977;(2):28–31 [in Russian].
5. Lust J. The Herb Book. New York: Bantam Books, 1974:116.