Scutellaria lateriflora (Skullcap)

Overview of Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)
Excellent herb for an overactive or burnt-out nervous system. Good for nervousness, insomnia from too much thinking, and recovery from addiction. It calms the nerves and muscle effectively. Helpful for any sort of twitching or nervousness-related ailment. General nervous system tonic. Neuron regenerator.  
Skullcap is an incredible nervous system herb. If a beginner to herbs could use only one nervous system herb, I’d almost always recommend Skullcap. It has no known side-effects, yet is powerful and noticeable in its effects. It is as pivotal for the nervous system as Dandelion is for the kidneys, as Plantain is for healing wounds, as Milk Thistle is for the liver, as Comfrey is for bone-mending, as Chamomile is for digestion and mild insomnia. It’s a top 10 herb, a heavyweight. 
Based on my personal experience, Skullcap is an effective anxiety / general over-excitement of the nervous system herb. I once went to a night club as a shy young man and took a relatively large amount of Skullcap tincture, and had one of the best nights out of my life. I experienced an unprecedented lack of inhibition, a calmness of mind, a significant lessening of anxiety and thus an ability to be myself and enter into play/fun. I’ve wondered if a Skullcap beer/wine for the purpose of socialising would be a revolutionary product. 
 

Family: Lamiaceae
Parts used: Aerial parts

Phytochemistry
Flavonoid glycosides (apigenin, scutellarien, luteolin, scutellarin)
Iridoids (catalpol)
Volatile oils (limonene, terpineol, humulene)
Waxes
Tannins
Minerals
Resin
Lignin
scutellaria lateriflora
Description
The generic name is from the Latin scutella (a little dish), from the shape of the lid of the calyx. As a member of the mint family, Skullcap has a square stem. Flowers in late June to early July and goes to seed shortly after flowering. Plants are erect, multi-stemmed, and grow 1-3 feet tall from dense rhizomatous mats. Leaves oval or lance shaped, opposite, and toothed. Flower colours range from white to violet-blue, growing on racemes attached to leaf axils along the length of the stems. 

Actions

Sedative, Nervine relaxant, Nervine tonic, Anti-spasmodic/Anti-convulsive, Mild bitter, Hypotensive 

 

Historical

 “Has a deeper action on the nervous system than any other herb and is used for hysteria, epilepsy, convulsions, rabies, as well as serious mental conditions such as schizophrenia.” –Physiomedicalists of 19th century  
“Increase menstruation, relieve breast pain, encourage expansion of the placenta.” –Cherokee
“Nervousness with fatigue or depression, and nervous disorder characterised by irregular muscle action such as twitching, tremors, or restlessness. Physical or mental overwork, burnout.” –Eclectics 
“Best for hysteria, convulsions, hydrophobia, St. Vitus’s dance (irregular muscle movement), rickets (malformed bones due to calcium and phosphate depletion, (Parathyroid / Teeth(?))). Nervous headaches, neuralgia, headache from incessant coughing and pain. Dried dosage in a pill will relieve the worst hiccups / hiccough. Too much of it will cause giddiness, twitching of limbs, and confusion.” –Grieves 
 “It’s efficacy appears to be partly due to its stimulating the kidneys to increased activity.” –Dr. William Bramwell

 

 

Medicinal Actions
Relaxes nervous tensions of all kind, simultaneously nourishing, renewing and reviving the nervous system (i.e. nervous system tonic). 
Exhaustion, depressed conditions, calms stress and anxiety. 
Epilepsy, neuralgia, tremors.
Especially useful for insomnia when due to mental over-activity or worry. Also for stress associated with addictions. 
Muscle tension related to stress / nervous system. 
Menstrual cramping 
Cautions & Contraindications

None known

Cultivation

USDA 4-8, perennial. Grows in any ordinary garden soil, preferring sunny, open borders, where they’ll grow more strongly than in rich soils, though seldom last more than 2-3 years. “Muck” is a term often used to describe the soil where we find Skullcap growing in the wild. Too much nitrogen will cause the plants to develop more leaf mass than the somewhat delicate stalks can support. Plant in March or April, 6 inches apart. Propagation mostly by seeds, sown in gentle heat in February or March, or out of doors in half-shady positions in light soil in April. Propagation, though primarily done by seed, may also be enacted by division of roots in March or April, where the roots are lifted, divided and replanted (but only when overgrown). Collect in June. 

 

This Post was all about Scutellaria lateriflora (Skullcap)..

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Justin McArthur
Herbalist

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