Description:Betonica Offianalis. This is one of the herbs that ought to be kept in every family.
It has many leaves rising from the root, which are rather broad and round at the end, roundly dented about the edges, standing upon long foot stalks, from which rise up small, square, slender, upright hairy stalks, with some leaves thereon to a piece at the joints, smaller than the lower, whereon arc set several spiked heads of flowers like lavender, and of a purple colour, the seeds are in the husks that hold the flowers, and are blackish.
The roots are many white thready strings; the stalk perisheth, but the roots, with some leaves thereon, abide all the Winter. It grows in woods, and in shady places. It flowers in July, after which the seed is quickly ripe, yet it is in its prime in May.
Herbal Remedies and Medicinal Uses of Wood Betony:Antonius, physician to the Emperor Augustus Caesar, wrote a book on the virtues of this herb, in which he says, that it preserves the liver, and the body from epidemical diseases, and promotes digestion, cures belching of the stomach.
Wood Betony is good for disorders of the head, and for all nervous complaints. The herb or root, or the flowers in broth, drunk, or made into conserve, syrup, water, electuary or powder, is a good remedy for the jaundice, falling-sickness, the palsy, convulsions, or shrinking of the sinews, the gout, and for dropsy, and continual pains in the head.
The powder with honey, is most excellent for all coughs or colds, shortness of breath, distillations of thin rheum upon the lungs, which cause consumptions. The decoction made with mead, and penny royal, is good for putrid agues, and to draw down and evacuate the blood and humours, that by falling into the eyes, hinder the sight.
The decoction thereof made in wine, and taken, destroys worms, and removes obstructions of the spleen and liver. It cures stitches, pains in the back or sides, and griping pains of the bowels, and the flatulent colic. Mixed with honey it purges. It is of great service in the falling down of the womb, obstruction of the menses, and stone in the bladder.
The decoction with wine gargled in the mouth, easeth the tooth-ache. A dram of the powder of Betony, taken with a little honey in some vinegar, is very refreshing for those that are wearied by travel. It stays bleeding at the mouth or nose, and helps those that spit blood, or make bloody urine, and is good for those that have a rupture and are bruised.
The green herb bruised, or the juice applied to any outward green wound in the head or body, will quickly heal it, and any veins or sinews that are cut. It is a curative of old sores and ulcers, though they be fistulous and hollow. The fume of the decoction while it is warm, received by a funnel into the ears, eases pain, destroys worms, and cures the running sores in them. The juice dropped into them does the same.
On the whole, Wood Betony is one of the most valuable herbs we have in Great Britain. Betony must be gathered when about to flower. Some persons mix it with tobacco and smoke it. With the Eye-bright, and Coltsfoot, it has been made into tobacco, and it relieves difficult breathing. For a snuff, take Betony, Marjoram, a little of the root of Florentine Iris, and Eye-bright, powder when dry, and you have a remedy for the head-ache, sore eyes, and obstructions in the head.
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