SCULLCAP

| 0

Herbal Monograph

Herb:    SCULLCAP         (Scutellaria lateriflora; Labiatae)

Other Names:   blue pimpernel, helmet flower, hoodwort, mad-dog weed, madweed, quaker bonnet.    (2)

Madweed, quaker bonnet.    (57)

Character/Energetics: bitter, cool    (6) 

                    bitter, cold, drying  (15)

            

Meridians/Organs/Body Parts affected:      heart, liver   (6)

nerves and stomach    (14)

Part(s) used:    3-4 year plant harvested in June.    (2)

Aerial portions    (6)

Identification & Harvesting:    Pink to blue flowers on short lateral false spikes.  Fruit is globular to ovoid warty nut.  Perennial up to 2 ft high covered thickly with hairs.  Erect, heavily branched stems, ovate to lanceolate leaves.  Grows/cultivated in North America and Europe.    (2)

Harvest late in the flowering period, when the characteristic skullcap-shaped seedpods have appeared on the plant.   (15)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Square stems, opposite, cordate-lanceolate, shortly-stalked leaves with a tapering apex.  Flowers blue, with a helmet-shaped upper lip, in axillary racemes.  Tastes bitterish.  Slight odor.    (57)

A member of the mint family from the rich woods and moist soils of eastern North America.  Another commonly used spp. is Baikal scullcap, S. baicalensis, the root of which is the Chinese drug huang-qin.  This is found in sandy fields in northeast China and adjacent Russia and in the mountains of southwest China.    (61)

Active Constituents:    Tridoide monoterpenes; flavonoids incl. scutellarin;  volatile oils, tannins.    (2)

S. Lateriflora: volatile oil, scutellarin, a bitter glycoside, tannin,                                   fat, a bitter principle, sugar     (6)

flavonoid glycoside inl. scutellarin, scutellarein;  trace volatile oil, bitter.    (8)

                                 flavonoids,  tannins, bitter, volatile oil, minerals   (15)

        S. Baicalensis (root):  flavonoids,  sitosterols    (15)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Actions:    mild sedative, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant., febrifuge (2)

S. Lateriflora:  nervine, sedative, antispasmodic    (6) 

Perhaps the most widely relevant nervine herb available.    (8)

Primarily antispasmodic, nervine;  also antipyretic.    (14)

                                         relaxing nervine, antispasmodic   (15)

S. Baicalensis (root):  antibacterial, cooling, diuretic, anti-spasmodic, promotes bile flow (15)

Tonic, nervine, antispasmodic, slightly astringent.    (57)

Numerous Chinese studies show huang-qin inhibits bacteria and viruses, is diuretic, and lowers fevers and blood pressure.  There is little research on American scullcap, but it is shown to be a mild sedative and antispasmodic.    (61)

Conditions & Uses: Hysteria, nervous tension, epilepsy, chorea and other nervous disorders.

S. Lateriflora:  It relaxes nervous tension, induces calm and counteracts sleep-lessness. It eases premenstrual tension, strengthens the brain, is useful in the treatment of chorea, epilepsy and seizures generally. It usually is combined with valerian, lady’s slipper and other nervines for a broader action.

This is one of the best herbs to use to break addictions and to ease the problems associated with drug and alcohol withdrawal. For such a condition, a quarter to half a cupful of the tea should be taken every hour or two, tapering off as the symptoms subside. It also is a good brain tonic for promoting meditation.    (6)

Relaxes states of nervous tension while renewing and revivifying the central nervous system.  A specific in cases of seizure and hysteria and epilepsy.  May be used in all exhausted or depressed conditions.  Can be used with complete safety to ease pre-menstrual tension.    (8)

Internal uses — alcoholism:  infusion*, powder*.  Convulsions, epilepsy, hysteria:  tincture, fluid extract.  Coughs:  infusion*, tincture*, fluid extract*.  Indigestion, insomnia, nervous tension, nervous headache:  tincture, fluid extract, infusion.  Insanity:  tincture, fluid extract, powder.

*Usually used in combination with other herbs when treating the indicated problem.

Scullcap is an excellent herb for almost any nervous system malfunction, mild or chronic, from insomnia to hysteria.  It has been used as an aid in weaning individuals from barbiturate addictions and excessive use of valium.  In combination with American ginseng (1/4 oz.), scullcap (1/2 oz.), taken in small frequent doses, it is a good treatment for alcoholism.  Make the decoction of ginseng root, then an infusion of scullcap and combine the two.  Scullcap has been used as a substitute for quinine for pains of ovarian or uterine origin.  Combined with pennyroyal and crampbark, the tea is good for excessive sexual desires.  Its action is through the cerebrospinal centers, calming the heart and hysterical excitement.  The hot tea is good to break fevers when nervousness is present.  Scullcap is a sedative and nerve tonic.  It should be used as fresh as possible, since much of its activity is lost with prolonged storage.    (14)

Calming for many nervous conditions, the aerial parts also have a tonic effect on the nervous system, so are ideal for nervous exhaustion. They can be helpful in premenstrual tension and have been used for epilepsy.

For tension headaches–relaxant and restorative for the central nervous system; sedative; antispasmodic….For  anxiety & tension–relaxant and restorative for the central nervous system; good for nervous debility. (15)                  

S. Baicalensis (root) : In Chine, huang qin is mainly used to clear heat from the respiratory and digestive systems. It can be helpful for infections of the urinary tract and skin and is also used where high blood pressure is related to over-heated conditions.   (15)

One of the finest nervines ever discovered, and may be prescribed wherever disorders of the nervous system exist.  In hysteria, convulsions, hydrophobia, St. Vitus dance, rickets, etc., its action is invaluable.  Many cases of hydrophobia are known to have been cured by this remedy alone, while it may be regarded as a specific in St. Vitus dance.    (57)

Huang-qin is historically used to treat rabies.  Was believed to be a nerve tonic and sedative for relieving anxiety, neuralgia, insomnia.  Used for fevers, colds, hypertension, insomnia, headache, intestinal inflammation, and vomiting of blood.  In China it is also used to treat hepatitis.    (61)

Combinations: 

S. Lateriflora –It usually is combined with valerian, lady’s slipper and other nervines for a broader action.   (6)

For insomnia, combine skullcap with wild lettuce or passionflower and take at night….

Take 5 ml  or combine with 10 drops lemon balm for nervous stress or depression….

For tension headaches–mix 45 ml skullcap tincture and 5 ml lemon balm and take  up to four 5 ml doses a day as a calming nervine.

For anxiety & tension–can be combined with Jamaican dogwood and/or passion flower for overexcited states.  Use only the dry plant. (15)

S. Baicalensis  (root):

Decoction:  Use in combination with other cold, bitter herbs such as huang lian  or goldenseal to purge heat from the system in gastric, chest, and urinary infections, including diarrhea, jaundice, gastroenteritis, bronchitis, and cystitis. Combine with herbs such as ju hua  to reduce high blood pressure.  (15)                                                                                             

Precautions:    No known hazards or side effects with designated dosages.    (2)

S. Lateriflora:  It should be noted that most of what is sold as skullcap in this country is germander (Teucrium)  Ask for the genuine herb.     (6)                                                   

Recent suggestions of liver toxicity associated with skullcap are probably based on the toxicity of germander, a herb that is occasionally sold as skullcap.  (15)

S. lateriflora is often adulterated with Teucrium canadense and traded as pink scullcap.  The common garden germander, T. chamaedrys, has been linked to liver damage.    (61)

                                                                                                                                        

Tincturing Process:

Applications:    Infusion:  steep 15-30 min.;  3 oz., 4-5 x daily.  Tincture:  10-40 drops, 3-4 x daily.  Fluid ext5ract:  1/4 tsp, 3-4 x daily.  Powder:  3-5 capsules (15-30 grains), 2 or 3 times daily.    (14)

S. Lateriflora:  Infusion: Use  the herb fresh, if possible, to make a soothing tea for nervous  exhaustion,  excitability, overanxiety, and premenstrual tension. For insomnia, combine skullcap with wild lettuce or passionflower and take at night.

Tincture:  Best made from the fresh herb, this is a potent remedy for calming the nerves. Take 5 ml  or combine with 10 drops lemon balm for nervous stress or depression.    (15)  

For tension headaches–take an infusion or tincture…. re: tincture–mix 45 ml skullcap tincture and 5 ml lemon balm and take  up to four 5 ml doses a day as a calming nervine.  For anxiety & tension–take up to 1 ml tincture three times a day, or add 5 g to 500 ml water for infusion. (15)

S. Baicalensis  (root):

Decoction:  Use in combination with other cold, bitter herbs such as huang lian  or goldenseal to purge heat from the system in gastric, chest, and urinary infections, including diarrhea, jaundice, gastroenteritis, bronchitis, and cystitis. Combine with herbs such as ju hua  to reduce high blood pressure.  (15)

Divination:

Dosage:   standard infusion or 3-9 grams; tincture, 10-30 drops    (6)                                                                                                                                          

The infusion of an ounce to a pint of boiling water is taken in half-cup doses.  Powder dose 1/4-1/2 drachm.  Liquid extract dose 1/2-1 drachm.    (57)

Up to 2.6 g capsules daily.  Steep 1-2 tsp dried herb in a cup of hot water for 10-15 min.  Tincture 20-40 drops up to 4 x daily.    (61)

General Notes:   “Skullcap is perhaps the most widely relevant nervine available to us in the                                  materia medica.”   David Hoffman, The Holistic Herbal, 1983                                                                                                

  Virginian skullcap was being used by Native Americans for rabies and menstrual problems long before its adoption by European herbalists. It is characterized by dish-shaped seedpods and flowers that grow on only one side of the stem; hence its botanical name,  S. lateriflora. Today, it is one of the best herbs for treating nervous disorders. The Chinese use a related plant, S. baicalensis  or huang qin.    (15)                                                                                                                                                                 

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

References:

(2)  PDR for Herbal Medicines (Medical Economics Co., 1998), p. 1128-29

(6) Planetary Herbology by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., pgs. 354-355

(8)  The New Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman, p. 233

(14) Natural Healing With Herbs by Humbart Santillo BS, MH, pgs. 174-75

(15) The Complete Medicinal Herbal by Penelope Ody, pgs.  98, 132-33,  162-63

(57) Potter’s Cyclopaedia by R.C. Wren, F.L.S., p. 313

(61) 101 Medicinal Herbs by Steven Foster, pgs. 188-89