Betony

(Stachys officinalis) i.e., WOOD BETONY Sown round the house, it protects it from witchcraft. "The house where Herba Betonica is sowne, is free from all mischeefes" (Scot). The Anglo-Saxon Herbal mentions it as a shield against "frightful goblins that go by night and terrible sights and dreams" (Bonser). "For phantasma and delusions: Make a garland of betony and hang it about thy neck when thou goest to bed. that thou mayest have the savour thereof all night, and it will help thee" (Dawson). The first item on Apuleius' list is "for monstrous nocturnal vistiors and frightful sights and dreams" (Cockayne). A Welsh charm to prevent dreaming was to "take the leaves of betony, and hang them about your neck or else the juice on going to bed" (Bonser).

Roy Vickery was quite right when he said that there was "little evidence for betony being much used in British and Irish folk medicine (Vickery. 1995). It is surprising in view of the number of prescriptions in early and classical herbalism, and also in view of the proverb "Sell your coat and buy betony" (Dyer. 1889; Whitlock. 1992). There is a Cumbrian recommendation to drink betony tea for indigestion (Newman & Wilson), and in Somerset a cure for headache is to drink the tea hot (Tongue. 1965). Gypsies, too, take an infusion of the fresh leaves to relieve stomach trouble, and they make an ointment from the juice of fresh leaves and unsalted lard to remove the poison from stings and bites (Vesey-Fitzgerald). There is, too, an injunction to chew a fresh betony leaf to prevent drunkenness before a party (Conway). But that is all, yet next to vervain, betony was the most esteemed of all plants by the early herbalists. To sum it all up: "A medicine against alle maner of infirmities. Take and drinke a cupful of the juyce of betonye, the first Thursday in May, and he shalle be delivered from alle maner of diseases for that year" (Gentleman's Magazine Library: popular superstitions). It was the first to be dealt with by Apuleius, and the Anglo-Saxon translation has no less than twenty-nine prescriptions (Cockayne), and there are at least that number of leechdoms independently written in Anglo-Saxon times. A Middle English rimed medical treatise prescribed either betony or fennel for the digestion, to be taken "in drage after mete". "Dragges" were a kind of digestive powder for weak stomachs, and were used by Chaucer's Doctor. The term was applied to such things as sweetmeats served in the last course as stomach closers, according to Cotgrave's Dictionary, 1660 (I B Jones).

Betula pendula (verrucosa) (alba) > BIRCH BHANG

according to Burton, the Arab Banj and the Hindu Bhang, is the most frequently used word referring to the drug Cannabis (HEMP).

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