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Chap. 065. Betony Wood.

Betony. I. The Names. It is called by the Arabians, Chastra; by the Greeks, Κεςων, χι Ψυχοτωφον, by the Latins, Betonica, and by us English, Betony.

II. The Kinds. There are two principal kinds thereof,

  • 1. Κιςων, Betonica, Betony; which is that of the Wood: it is twofold, viz. either with Purple Flowers, which is most common; or with White: which two kinds differ nothing one from another, but only in the colour of the Flowers. (Stachys officinalis. -Henriette.)
  • 2. Betonica Aquatica, Water Betony (Scrophularia auriculata. -Henriette.), of which in the next Chapter.

III. The Description. Wood Betony has a Root consisting of many white, thready strings like unto those of Plantane, which generally endures all the Winter; from whence rises many Leaves, the lowermost whereof are somewhat broad, and roundish at the ends, slightly indented about the edges, and stand upon pretty long foot stalks: but those which grow by two and two at the Joints upon small slender four square and somewhat hairy Stalks, are much lesser. The Stalk is for the most part near a foot high, and sometimes higher, and perishes every year, upon which grow some Leaves, and whereon are set several spiked heads of Flowers, of a Redish or Purple colour, spotted with white spots all over. The Seeds are longish and uneven, and of a blackish colour.

IV. That with White Flowers is wholly like to the former, save that the spiked heads of Flowers are somewhat smaller, the Flowers without any spots in them, and the Leaves something greener.

There is also a Mountain Betony, which differs nothing from the first, but that the Leaves, Stalks and Flowers are smaller. (Stachys officinalis? -Henriette.)

There is a Broad Leaved Betony, which differs not from the first, but in the Leaves, being two or three times as big, a larger and higher Stalk, and the Flowers being larger; this is called Betonica Danica. (Stachys officinalis. -Henriette.)

Also Betonica Alopecuros, Fox-tail Betony, so called from the form of the spiked head of flowers, but is every way less, as also are the Stalks and Leaves. (Stachys alopecuros. -Henriette.)

V. The Places. The common sort is usually found in Woods and Coppices, and other shady places throughout the Kingdom, and is many times nursed up in Gardens: but that with the White Flower is more usually found in stiff Clay Grounds, and in the Woods by Bromly in Kent. The first I have several times found in, and by the Borders of Hornsey Wood, not far off the New River. That with the other are also nourished up in Gardens.

VI. The Times. They flower for the most part in the Months of June and July, and the Seed is ripe not long after.

VII. The Qualities. They are hot and dry in the second degree; Abstersive, Digestive, Discussive, Incarnative, and Vulnerary; Cephalick, Neurotick, Stomatick, Cardiack, Hysterick, Arthritick, Alterative, and Analeptick.

VIII. The Specification. They are peculiar against Diseases of the Head and Nerves, as Falling-sickness, Apoplexies, Palsies, Gouts, Madness, &c.

IX. The Preparations. You may make therefrom,

  • 1. A liquid Juice by Expression.
  • 2. A Decoction.
  • 3. A Wine.
  • 4. A Vinegar.
  • 5. A Syrup.
  • 6. A Spiritous Tincture.
  • 7. An Oily Tincture.
  • 8. A Saline Tincture.
  • 9. An Acid Tincture.
  • 10. An Essence.
  • 11. A fixed Salt.
  • 12. An Ointment.
  • 13. A Balsam.
  • 14. A Cataplasm.

The Virtues.

X. The liquid Juice by Expression, being drunk to six or eight spoonfuls it is good against Fits, chiefly the Falling-sickness, Convulsions, and the like; and being mixed with a little powder of Sena, it prevails against Madness: being snuffed up the Nostrils, it purges the Head of Phlegm, and Cold Humors, and gives relief in the Apoplexy, Palsie, Lethargy, and other like Diseases.

XI. The Decoction. If made with Wine, it is Stomatick and Cephalick, comforts the Nerves and Brain, refreshes the Spirits, opens Obstructions of Liver and Spleen, and is laid to kill Worms, ease the Gripings of the Bowels, and the Colick. Dose half a pint.

XII. The Vinegar. It is Stomatick, and being drunk to half a pint, or three quarters of a pint, it is said to cure Quartan Agues, and abate the Humors which fall into the Eyes, and cause Blindness.

XIII. The Syrup. It is Pectoral, and causes an Expectoration of Phlegm, and other tough Viscous Humors out of the Lappets of the Lungs, and other places adjacent. It may be taken with a Liquorice stick.

XIV. The Spirituous Tincture. It is a notable Medicine against all cold and moist Diseases, of the Head, Brain, Nerves and Joints; is good against Epilepsies, Apoplexies, Convulsions, Palsies, Pains and Aches of those parts; Gouts, and Weakness of the Joint &c. Dose from half an ounce to six drams, in some fit Vehicle.

XV. The Oily Tincture. This is of chief use for external Applications, and is profitable to be anointed upon any pained place, proceeding from Cold, Blows, Bruises, or other weaknesses of the Limbs and Joints: being bathed upon the Head, it eases the Head-ach, Megrim, and other like Diseases.

XVI. The Saline Tincture. Outwardly bathed upon the Joints, it prevails against the Gout, and other pains of the Limbs, Palsies, Convulsions, or shrinking of the Sinews: drunk in White Wine from one dram to two drams, it is good against the Jaundice and Dropsie, and opens Obstructions of the Reins: and given to Children from a scruple to a dram, it kills Worms, and is good against the Rickets, and expels Sand and Gravel in Reins, Ureters, and Bladder.

XVII. The Acid Tincture. This possibly is one of the greatest Stomaticks in the World, and is an excellent thing to strengthen the Head, Stomach, and Womb, to help Digestion, cause a good Appetite, open Obstructions of the Viscera, and to cure Coughs, Colds, Wheezings, Shortness of Breath, stop inward Bleedings, and to remove Catarrhs, which fall upon the Lungs. Dose, a quarter of a Spoonful, more or less, in a Glass of Generous Wine.

XVIII. The Essence. Taken inwardly two or three or more Spoonfuls at a time, Morning and Evening, it is good against the Jaundice, falling-sickness, Convulsions, Megrim, Vertigo, Stuffings of the Lungs, Griping pains of the Bowels, and Wind Colick; it opens the Womb, and provokes the Terms in Women when stopt. It is a famous Traumatick, or Vulnerary, causing a speedy healing to old Sores, Running Ulcers, and the like; and given to Women in Travel, it causes speedy Delivery, and gives ease in the After pains, which many times come through taking cold.

XIX. The fixed Salt. Given to one scruple with a little Juice of Lemons and Canary, it stops Vomiting, and mixed with Essence of Winter Cherries, it provokes Urine, removes stoppages of the Urinary Parts, and expels Sand, Gravel, and other Tartarous and Viscous Matter.

XX. The Ointment. It eases Pains and Aches, discusses Tumors, relaxes shrunk Sinews; dissolves Congelations, and is good against Indurations of what kind soever, except they be Cancerous.

XXI. The Balsam. It is an excellent thing for the curing of Green Wounds, in any part of the Body, but chiefly of the Nervous Parts. It Digests, Cleanses, Incarnates, Cicatrizes, and heals Wounds of all sorts after an admirable manner and in many cases performs the Cure in a few days time; dressing the Wound with it twice a day.

XXII. The Cataplasm. Made of the green (= fresh. -Henriette.) Herb, and applied to the Head, it eases the Head-ache and Megrim in an hours time: applied to hard Tumors, it softens them, and discusses the Humors gathered together in Contusions, where no Bones nor Vessels are broken. Applied to inveterate Scabs, it removes them, qualifies the sharp Humors, and in a short time after cures them.


Botanologia, or The English Herbal, was written by William Salmon, M.D., in 1710.
This chapter has been proofread by Nick Jones.



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