Skullcap – When Your “Thinking Cap” Has Been on Too Tight!

Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on March 10, 2011 by Paulina Nelega, RH

When mental stress is also causing physical tension, Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) is one of the best herbs to consider. Its gentle, sedative action helps to calm the nervous system which, in turn, helps the entire body to relax.

Named for its flowers which have two “lips” that resemble the skullcap worn by warriors of medieval times, Skullcap is used in the treatment of a wide range of nervous system conditions including: anxiety (especially circular or repetitive thoughts), headaches, neuralgia (nerve pain), epilepsy, Parkinson disease, and ADD/ADHD. It has also been used to lessen the severity of withdrawal symptoms, such as delirium tremens, or from prescription sedatives/tranquilizers.

Historically Skullcap was known as “mad dog” for its use in treating the spasmed or twitching muscles resulting from rabies infection (which can be transmitted from the bite of a rabid (“mad”) dog).

One of Skullcap’s most widely-used applications is for insomnia, where it helps to induce sleep without any heavy, stupefying action. It is often combined with Valerian for this purpose.

• Encourages a calm and peaceful mood
• Helps calm anxious nerves
• Promotes a feeling of relaxation
• Gently encourages restful sleep

Because it can promote menstruation, Skullcap should not be used by pregnant women.

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Our Expert

Paulina Nelega, RH
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan

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Skullcap has traditionally been used to calm the nervous system, encouraging a more relaxed state of mind, and eases tight muscles which can help promote a more restful sleep.

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