Betony (Betonica officinalis) is a perennial herb from the Mint family (Lamiaceae). It is widespread in Europe, northwestern Africa, Asia Minor, and the Caucasus. In Slovakia, it grows scattered in thermophilic oak groves and forest edges, on meadows and pastures, from the lowlands to the foothills, and rarely in the mountains. It blooms from July to August.
Betony has been considered an important medicinal and magical plant since ancient times. Many period treatises were written about its benefits. It was applied to wounds (even after snake bites) and used as a supportive agent for various diseases. It was also planted by houses to ward off worriment and believed to bring luck and love when worn. Nowadays it is still used but the “magical properties” have been overshadowed by its purely phytotherapeutic effects, being mainly served in tea blends.
It contains various compounds, including flavonoids, alkaloids, tannins, and essential oils, which carry the medicinal properties of the herb.
There are various conditions that can be treated with betony. These include anxiety, stress, depression, headaches, digestive and respiratory problems. It is also used as a mild sedative and a tonic for the nervous system.
Betony has a slightly bitter taste, and can be added as a spice in soups, stews, and sauces. It is also used as a natural dye for wool, giving it a yellow or greenish color. Betony acts as an insect repellent and a natural remedy for skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.