Recently, a good friend asked me about using Wood Betony for a head injury and that got my wheels turning. After re-reading about Wood Betony in Matthew Woods’s The Book of Herbal Wisdom (one of my favorite books) I immediately started a Wood Betony tincture brewing, not just for the friend who requested it, but also for several other people who need to be “grounded”. So what is so special about Wood Betony?
Wood Betony is a nervine that both relaxes and strengthens muscles, nerves and organs and has a very potent effect on the brain and mental functions. The following list are some the symptoms expert Matthew Wood says may be helped with Wood Betony:
Wood Betony, also known as lousewort (no wonder it lost favor!), is an herb that was once considered essential to health and healing, but has faded in popularity in recent centuries (it was one of the most popular herbs in the Greek and Roman period, through the Dark Ages and even up through the seventeenth century). I, for one, would like to see it come out of the dark ages embellished with a new glow of excitement. Betony grows close to the earth, with the leaves radiating from the ground. Only after it is “secure” in the earth–a doctrine of signature–does it send up slender stalks terminating with yellow or reddish (or both) flowers in a tight cluster at the top. The flowers, which bloom April – June, are hooded and remind me of miniature snapdragons. Look for it in open woods from Maine to Florida.
In another of my favorite reference books from the Peterson Field Guides series is the Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants and Herbs by Steven Foster and James A. Duke, I found the following: “The American Indians used root tea for stomachache, diarrhea, anemia, and heart trouble; also in cough medicines; poulticed for swellings, tumors, sore muscles…”
In Wood’s book, he goes into great detail about Wood Betony and even gives several case histories in which he successfully used Wood Betony as a remedy. He says that, “Wood Betony enhances the actions of diverse organs–lungs, liver, gallbladder, intestines, kidneys, and uterus” and “…it is a remedy which helps establish rootedness, connectedness, earthiness, and groundedness.”
Before we go any further, I want to add that about ten or twelve years ago, I went to the annual Outdoor Writers of North America Conference and the keynote speaker said that as a nation, we were “three generations away from the land.” What he meant by that was there were sometimes three generations of families raised on concrete who’s bare feet had never touched the earth or felt grass between their toes. Keep this in mind as we go a little further into Wood Betony.
Wood also says that Wood Betony strengths the solar plexus which “…is one of the most significant nerve centers in the body. It is the switchboard for digestive functioning and gut-level instincts and reactions…”. When the solar plexus is run down, many organ functions do not operate at maximum and can cause a myriad of health issues, but Wood says because, “…the solar plexus is the center for gut-level instincts…the sense of groundedness, instinctive wisdom, and self-confidence in subjective impressions is adversely affected…Instincts and mental processes are weaker.”
These problems could be the result of a head injury or just due to aging, however, Wood says that Wood Betony increases nervous strength and circulation in the solar plexus (he calls it the “brain of the stomach”) and in the brain itself! He also says that, “When the solar plexus is functioning strongly, a person’s inner life is enriched by intuition, instinct and a zest for life.”
He also tells about a woman who came to him for pain, burning, and gas in the stomach. She had been diagnosed with stomach ulcers. Her friend came along and told Wood that “she was a bit of a space cadet”. In other words, spacey. Wood says that, “Wood Betony not only removed the digestive problems rapidly, but improved her ability to function.”
“Wood Betony,” says Wood, “is a specific when the is nerve pain associated with a tendency to disconnectedness, hysteria, or frenzy. It is one o the remedies for severe pain It is also a traditional and important medicine for head injuries.”
But the theme running throughout my research on Wood Betony was its ability to reconnect the body and spirit with nature. I believe–like the author of that book– that when we lose our connection with the earth or nature by working too much, spending too much time glued to electronics, or are too attached to having, wanting and buying material things, we create the process of disconnecting from nature. Maybe more of our children would be classified as “normal” instead of hyperactive and attention deficit if we made sure they spent more time outside–without cell phones! Remember the keynote speaker I mentioned earlier? His name is Richard Louv and he wrote the book Last Child in the Woods, subtitled Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. This was the first book that showed research indicating that “direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of children and adults.” Louv actually links the absence of nature in the lives of “today’s wired generation” to obesity, attention deficit disorders and depression. If your children or grandchildren have any of these issues, you may want to check this book out and invest in some Wood Betony.
As synchronicity would have it, I planted Wood Betony earlier this spring. Then my friend asked me about it a week later. Yesterday, Cami, my apprentice, came in the studio and I took one look at her and said instinctively, “You need a Wood Betony tincture.” She laughed and said, “look what I brought with me”, as she handed over two jars of herbs with Wood Betony on the labels of both. However, one was Wood Betony and one was labeled wrong, so we needed to figure out which was Wood Betony. My thought; Wood Betony has really been trying to get my attention!
Important Note! The information in Wholistically Speaking is for educational purposes only and should not be used to diagnose and/or treat diseases. If you have a health problem, I highly recommend you consult a competent health practitioner and educate yourself before embarking on any course of treatment.Important Note! The information in Wholistically Speaking is for educational purposes only and should not be used to diagnose and/or treat diseases. If you have a health problem, I highly recommend you consult a competent health practitioner and educate yourself before embarking on any course of treatment.