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Friday, March 7, 2014

March 7th WHMonth: SKULLCAP

TO CELEBRATE WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH (WHM), during the month of March ~ in addition to my weekly postings ~ I will be making DAILY postings of time tested herbal and medicinal foods used from a Medicine Woman's bag, which holds many, many herbs, generating many, many formulas, as one herb used for a cold (mullein), when combined with totally different herbs, can be used as an antispasmodic for inflammation or as an expectorant to relieve asthma or general lung congestion.

SKULLCAP (Scuttelaria lateriflora) is a nervine and contains numerous flavanoids and flavones including the flavanoid alvcoside scutellarin, tannin, fat and bitter principles.  It also contains baicalin, wogonin, lignans, resins, essential oils, tannins, and iridoids.  Skullcap has a calming and relaxing effect on the body and can be used during the day to restore balance to an overworked individual or in the evening to promote normal, healthy sleep.

The above ground parts are used medicinally, and it is a member of the lamiacea family.  This plant has a long history of use in western botanical medicine.  It is used to support exhausted nerves resulting from mental and physical exhaustion, maintain normal balance in times of muscular tension, and to support normal sleep patterns.  Many Eclectic Medical texts mention its use to support the nerves during withdrawal from drugs.  It is trophorestorative to the nervous system meaning it restores nutrition uptake to the nerves. Like most herbs in the mint family, it is cooling yet has bitter principles and other complex chemicals making it a balanced choice as a gentle nervine.

Skullcap is used for trouble sleeping (insomnia), anxiety, stroke and paralysis caused by sroke.  It is also used for fever, high cholesterol, hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), rabies, epilepsy, nervous tension, allergies, skin infection, inflammation and spasms.

Traditionally skullcap is taken as a tea or tincture and can also be used in capsule form. For a mild sedative, combine equal parts skullcap, hops and valerian root. This can be taken as a tea or tincture three times daily and half hour before retiring.  15-20 drops of skullcap tincture taken every hour or two can lessen the severity of drug or alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
  Skullcap is an herbaceous perennial mint with ridged leaves and tiny flowers that can range in color form purple and blue to pink and white.  The two-lobed flowers resemble the military helmets worn by early European settlers, hence the herb's name. 

 A hardy plant, it grows 1 to 4 feet high, thriving in the woods and swamp-lands of eastern North America.  Settlers in the late 1700's promoted the herb's effectiveness as a cure for rabies, giving rise to one of its common names, mad dog weed.