A powerful remedy to calm the mind and prepare for the meditation, tool for strengthening the insight energy, ceremonial symbol of introduction young girls into womanhood, strong well known female medicinal herb, weapon against muscle spasms caused by rabies (that is why it was also called Mad-Dog Weed) – this is all the list of usage of the scullcap (or skullcap). This rather beautiful plant has a long history of use against insomnia, nerve pain, anxiety, and the DTs.
Official name of the herb - Scutellaria lateriflora, its more common names are Blue skullcap, Virginian skullcap, and Hoodwort. Other interesting names are: Mad-Dog-Weed, Mad Dog Skullcap, Blue Pimpernel, Side-Flowering Skullcap, Helmet Flower, and Hooded Willow-Herb.
It is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae, is a hardly perennial herb that is native to North America. The name of the species, 'lateriflora' means having 'lateral flowers' or 'flowers to the side.'
The plant is usually from 0.2 to 1 m in height with ridged leaves and tiny blue flowers (but white inside) that appear as a rule in July to September and are 10-20mm long. The flowers do not appear at the top of the stem and are always in pairs on the same side of the stem. The root-stock is perennial and creeping.
Skullcap is a Native N. American perennial herb. It grows in different countries. Likes wet land and grows mostly along fens and shorelines. Also in woods, bluffs, thickets, and along roadsides. Skullcap is easy in a sunny position and any ordinary garden soil. For the later herb use gather above ground parts in the summer as flowers bloom and dry it and then store.
The above-ground parts of the plant, dried.
Traditionally the plant was used as a tea or tincture, but it also can be used in the form of capsules and infusions. For the treating nervous conditions scullcap is mixed with heal-all, for treating tension in the abdomen during infection it is combined with peony. When "fried" on the pan without oil - for use in stopping bleeding, and in the form of hot tea for various aims.
Skullcap is a powerful medicinal herb; it is used in alternative medicine as:
- anti-inflammatory- its antibacterial effect is because scullcap inhibits the growth of Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, among others. Skullcap may be useful in case of antibiotic resistance;
- slightly astringent and has a gastrointestinal effects - it slows intestinal movement;
- febrifuge - skullcap can lower fevers (known fact from 1935);
- nervine - it works on the central and sympathetic nervous systems and considered by the herbalists to be the best nervine;
- strongly tonic;
- bleary effect – tinctures increase flow of bile and lower cholesterol;
- hypotensive effect – it lowers blood pressure by dilating blood vessels in dogs, cats, rabbits, and humans (that also potentially lower risk of heart attack and stroke);
- immunomodulatory effect – acts like an antihistamine.
Important constituents of the herb are Scutellarin, Catalpol, other Volatile oils, bitter iridoids and Tannins.
Scullcap is excellent for treating conditions such as insomnia, general restlessness, hysteria, anxiety, withdrawal from barbiturates and tranquilizers, epilepsy, etc.
A medicinal infusion of the plant is used to promote menstruation (but should not be given to pregnant women) and to treat throat infections. The infusion can also ease nervous headaches, headache arising from incessant coughing, can ease pain and neuralgia. It is good for inducing sleep when necessary without any unpleasant symptoms (but avoid overdosing).
The herb treats any kind of digestive upset that stifles the urge to drink fluids or causes inflammation of the urinary tract.
Scullcap calms the nerves very well and so treats the symptoms of emotional excess "rising" in the body (and prevent from irritability, blushing, flushing and headache).
It is good remedy for treating high fever, thick mucus, swelling and hot sores. Useful for hyperactivity, cardiovascular disease, fatigue and rheumatism.
Some resources state that scullcap may be useful in treating barbituate addiction and drug withdrawal (by detoxifying the body and lessening the withdrawal symptoms) and is currently being used as an alternative medicine to treat ADD.
Blue skullcap has so much useful properties in its arsenal that is hard to classify them in one definite group. But the benefits are definitely numerous. Just take it and use it. One more advice – with some caution as overdosing may cause giddiness, confusion of mind, stupor, twitchings of the limbs, intermission of the pulse and some other minor symptoms. In wise hands it will bring you so many advantages…
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