A practical guide for nutritional and traditional health care.
Skullcap is an herb that grows uncultivated in the marshy lands of Canada as well as in the northern and eastern parts of the United States. The herb is also found in other parts of the globe, including south-east Asia. Skullcap has double-colored flowers that are blue and light purple. The root of the herb is fibrous and yellowish in color that branches out into a stem, which can be between one and three feet. These branches bear reverse, dented and ovate leaves that meet at the tips.
The skullcap is known by different names at different places and the most common among them are hoodwort, helmet flower as well as the mad-dog that has been included in the American medicine list since 1773. While a number of herbs belonging to the skullcap family are found in Asia, one of them is more prominent - S. baicalesnis Georgi. This herb has been in use in Europe as well as in China, where it is known huang quin, for years as a remedy for numerous disorders. All these plants have a number of familiar constituents; they differ in the manner they are used to treat ailments. While the aerial parts of skullcap is harvested during the flowering season, which occurs between August and September, in China they use the plant roots known as huang quin for therapeutic use.
Skullcap alone or when blended with roots of another herb known as valerian is an ideal tranquilizer. Individually as well as in combination with valerian roots, skullcap is beneficial in healing disorders like muscular contractions, jerks and common tremors. In critical conditions, one may consume three capsules of both the herbs six times a day, while the dosage is less in case of minor ailments. In lesser symptoms, it is sufficient to take one-and-a-half cup to half-a-cup of the herb extract depending on the condition of the disorder. The procedure to prepare the recipe is simple. Add one tablespoon of valerian root on low heat to one pt of simmering water and cover the appliance for three minutes. Next combine two teaspoons of sliced and dehydrated skullcap herb. Cover the appliance and heat it for another 60 to 90 seconds. Keep the amalgamation on heat for another 40 minutes to prepare the potion.
Traditionally, skullcap is known to be an effective stimulant for the nervous organization, as the herb contains high value ingredients for a sound nervous system. The herb is particularly effective in helping as well as escalating the nervous system when a person undergoes mental and physical stress and strain. In fact, skullcap is a time tested medicine for all kinds of disturbed mental state, be it tension, anxiety, insomnia, neurasthenia, panic, headaches, fatigue, depression as well as melancholy. Skullcap's ability to heal physical irregularities like convulsions, jerking muscles, epilepsy, wobbliness as well as heart trembles has been tested over the ages. Many experts have advocated the use of skullcap instead of applying the normal allopathic tranquillizers and medicines to cure depression. However, skullcap yields the best results when it is blended with other hormone stability thymes like chaste tree or false unicorn root to heal PMS.
Skullcap is also beneficial in healing diseases like arthritis as it has anti-inflammatory properties. It is especially effective when stress and anxiety worsens arthritis in a patient. Among other uses, the herb is known to be beneficial in lowering high body temperatures, aid in absorption of food intakes as well as rouse the operation of the liver. This is primarily owing to the presence of sour and bitter substances in the herb. In North America, skullcap has been traditionally used to heal patients suffering from venomous snake and insect stings. In addition, the herb is also conventionally used in this part of the world to treat rabies, alleviate menstrual contractions as well as smoothen sexual over-exhilaration.
Aerial parts, root.
Skullcap has numerous uses, and these differ from place to place. For example, the Cherokee applied the herb mainly as a remedy for women's disorders. It was traditionally used to rouse menstruation, alleviate chest soreness as well as stimulate the placenta eviction from the body. However, it was in the 19th century that the Physimedicalists, the Anglo-Americans who followed herbal medicine in that age, realized the use of the herb in healing nervous disorders. These physicians found that skullcap had a more penetrative action on the nervous system and was effective in healing disorders like epilepsy, spasms, frenzy, rabies as well as the mental infirmities, including schizophrenia.
These days, skullcap is predominantly consumed as a stimulant for the nervous system and its ability to heal the system. As mentioned earlier, skullcap is a herb that is extremely effective in the treatment of the nervous system as it is beneficial in soothing anxiety, stress and worries. In fact, the ability of skullcap to control and rectify nervous irregularities makes it one of the most effective remedies for tension and anxiety that leads to muscular contractions. Physicians often recommend usage of skullcap individually or in combination with other tranquilizing herbal medicines to cure sleeplessness as well as for respite from menstrual pains. Scientists as well as physicians are of the opinion that there is need for more studies into skullcap as this may bring to the fore other still unknown uses of the herb.
Other medical uses
Habitat and cultivation
Skullcap is indigenous to North America and still breeds uncultivated in most parts of the United States as well as Canada. This herb grows better in humid circumstances and is mainly found along the riverbanks. In order to flourish, skullcap requires adequate sunlight. Cultivation of skullcap can be done in two ways – it can be germinated from seeds and even by root division. While the herb is cultivated in spring, the above ground parts of 3 to 4-year-old skullcap plants are cropped during summer, when the plants are flowering.
Despite the fact that the plant has long been use as a herbal medicine both in North America as well as in Britain, so far little or no scientific study has been conducted on this class of Scutellaria. Scientists are of the opinion that skullcap endorses ingredients that are found in other members of the Scutellaria species. It has similarity with Baical skullcap (S. baicalensis) that has been studied intensely and has robust anti-seditious properties.
Although it has been in use as a herbal medicine for long, there is no standard healing dosage of skullcap either in the United States or Europe. On the contrary, in China physicians use baicalin in 250 mg tablet form and prescribe two tablets thrice in a day as a remedy for viral hepatitis. It may be mentioned here that if taken in high dosage, skullcap may prove to be injurious to health.
Side effects and cautions
Although gulping standard measures of skullcap does not lead to any serious adverse effects in the body, when a person is administered an injection containing ingredients of S. baicalensis it may cause aches in the muscles and also raise the body temperature. While it may also lead to reduced count of leukocyte in the body, many people have even complained of liver damage after being administered the injection. Since, skullcap is known to damage the liver, it is advised that people should not intake the herb casually.
How it works in the body
Intake of skullcap generally functions as a tranquilizer both for the body and the mind. While skullcap relaxes the physique and the over-excited muscles, it also helps to soothe the nervous system. Hence, skullcap is generally used to reduce stress and tension in the patients. Possibly owing to the presence of Scutellaria lateriflora straits, some skullcap is also known to have anti-allergic as well as anti-inflammatory properties. Scientists are, however, not yet certain about these functions of skullcap advocate further research on this. Incidentally, although there have been complaints of liver damage owing to the use of skullcap, a variety of the herb found in China is used to heal liver-related ailments like hepatitis. This skullcap is believed to help in the betterment of liver activities. Skullcap is also beneficial for women as it can be used to reduce ovarian or menstrual pains.