One of the Finest Nervines
Also Known As:
Scullcap, Mad Dog, Blue Skullcap, Virginia Skullcap, Hood Root, Helmut Flower
Full Sun to Partial Shade
North America’s Eastern coast, from Connecticut to Florida and west to Texas. Also found in parts of Europe and Southern Canada
Skullcap can be found growing in damp places like meadows, ditches and alongside ponds. In full sun it will bloom from July to September.
Herbal literature describes skullcap (so named for the flower’s resemblance to the human skull) as one of the finest nervines ever discovered. Chinese physicians have used Baikal Skullcap (Scutellaria bacalensis) for hundreds of years for its sedative and tranquilizing properties as well as a treatment for convulsions, and Scutellaria lateriflora has been used similarly in its native North America. American Indians used skullcap to promote menstruation.
In New England in 1772 it was used to treat an outbreak of rabies, hence its common name “Mad Dog”. It was also used during that period as a tranquilizer and digestive aid.
The 19th century American eclectic physicians prescribed skullcap for insomnia and nervousness, convulsions, and tremors of the nerves form advanced alcoholism. It was listed in the United States Pharmacopoeia in 1863 as a tranquilizer. In 1916 it was moved to the National Formulary, the pharmacists’ reference. There it stayed until 1947.
Today’s herbalists recommend skullcap as a tranquilizer for insomnia, nervous tension, premenstrual syndrome and drug and alcohol withdrawal. Its bitter qualities also strengthen and stimulate digestion.
It is accepted by European practitioners for its tranquilizing and sedating properties. Skullcap is included in many commercial sleep prescriptions widely available in Europe. It is a main ingredient in our Sleep Well Tea Blend. We also sell Skullcap as a bulk dried herb.
Parts of the Plant Used:
Leaves, fresh or dried.
Flavonoids, volatile oil, bitter properties, tannin
Nervine tonic, sedative, anti-spasmodic, sleep promoter
Infusion: Steep 1-2 tsp of dried skullcap in a cup of boiling water for 15-20 minutes. Take three to four times a day in small doses for nerves or drink a cup before bed to promote sleep. We use skullcap tea when needed for insomnia and find it pleasant with no drowsy in the morning feelings.
***Note: There are no reports of toxicity from skullcap infusion, but large amounts of the tincture can cause confusion, giddiness, twitching, and possible convulsions.