Betony grows throughout most of Europe and can also be found in Asia as far east as the Caucasus. It is a mat-forming perennial, growing to about two feet in height, with toothed eliptical leaves and spikes of pink or white flowers. It prefers meadows, heathland, and hilly areas. The aerial parts are collected when the plant is in flower during the early summer.
Betony has been regarded as a panacea since classical times. Antonius Musa, the physician to Emperor Augustus (63 BCE-14 CE), claimed that the herb could cure forty-seven different illnesses and was particularly valued as a remedy for headaches.