Skullcap (Scutellaria laterifolia) or American Skullcap as opposed to Chinese skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis)

Skullcap is a Native American herb known as a nervine and is used for calming nerves, insomnia, and headaches.

The small lavender flowers are harvested for teas, tinctures, and dried capsules. Flavonoid glycosides are the principal beneficial components. Flavonoids are thought to be responsible for some of the health benefits from plant based diets. Although the flavonoids of Scutellaria laterifolia have not been rigorously studied, the herb has been used medicinally for hundreds of years.

Native Americans originally used skullcap for menstrual problems, expelling placenta after childbirth, and kidney problems. When Dr. Van Derveer used it for rabies symptoms in 1733, skullcap came to be known as "mad-dog weed". Since the 1900's, skullcap has been used to relieve stress, anxiety, insomnia headaches, and a number of neurological conditions. It is especially useful for insomnia from an overactive mind.

Substitutions and contaminations with liver damaging herbs such as germander (Teucrium) and other species of Scutellariathat do not have the same components as Scutellaria laterifoliaabound. It is wise to research your supplier well or grow your own. Skullcap grows easily throughout the US except Florida, Southern Texas, and the desert states. It loves moist sun or partly shady areas and can be propagated by seed, cuttings, or root divisions. Collect the flowers in June from 3-4 year old plants.

Skullcap should not be taken with other sedatives such as alcohol or sedating prescription medication or herbs such as valerian, kava, or catnip. It should also be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Rosemary Glad star's Family Herbal (2001) Skullcap Headache Blend: 2 parts lemon balm, 2 parts skullcap, 1 part chamomile, 1 part feverfew Combine the herbs and prepare as an infusion (1 cup of boiling water poured over 1 Tablespoon of herbal mix and steeped for 30-60 minutes). Teens and adults can drink at least ¼ cup every 30 minutes until the headache symptoms are gone.

Dr. Rose