Skullcap herb is a plant native to North America. Its preferred habitat is woodland and along roadsides. It has a number of uses in herbal medicine.
There are several different varieties of skullcap, but they all have health benefits.
Chinese skullcap is known as huang quin, and this makes use of the roots of the plant.
Aerial parts of the herb are usually taken in the form of an infusion or tincture, while the root is usually made into a decoction.
The dried herb is also available in the form of a capsule or as powder.
Skullcap powder can be made into a tea. Due to the strong effects and potential side effects of the herb, it is recommended to take it under the supervision of a qualified herbal therapist.
The medicinal benefits of skullcap herb include:
- It has anti-inflammatory properties, which can be beneficial for arthritis sufferers, particularly when stress levels aggravate the symptoms. Chinese skullcap is the recommended variety for inflammatory disorders and has a similar effect to aspirin.
- It has the ability to improve blood flow, which makes it beneficial for those who have menstrual problems. American skullcap was traditionally used to treat women’s problems.
- It can be used to treat a number of nervous disorders including anxiety and insomnia. An infusion of skullcap herb is recommended if suffering from a nervous headache.
- Skullcap is one of the herbs used as a remedy for ADD. It can be blended with valerian for maximum effect and to promote restful sleep. Skullcap is a useful remedy for combating panic attacks. It is calming on mental function and has been used as a remedy for schizophrenia.
- It has anti-spasmodic properties which help to prevent jerking of muscles which are common in a number of nervous disorders.
- It also has antioxidant properties which can help to keep the body free from toxins and boost the immune system.
- When blended with other herbs such as chaste berry it can have a positive effect on the symptoms of PMS.
- American skullcap was traditionally used to treat those who had suffered from insect and snake bites.
- The herb can have a positive effect on the liver, which can help cleanse the blood and improve digestion. A tea made from skullcap powder will enter the system much more efficiently than most other methods of administration.
- Recent studies have shown that skullcap herb may have a beneficial effect on the levels of ‘good’ cholesterol in the body, so helping to prevent heart attacks and strokes.
Side Effects of Skullcap Herb
Pregnant women should not use skullcap as it can promote menstruation. Care should be taken not to exceed recommended dosages as it can cause confusion and giddiness.
Anybody with liver related problems should avoid using the herb. Users of prescription tranquilizers or sedatives should not use the herb as it can increase their effectiveness.
Chinese skullcap may cause health problems in diabetics, while American skullcap should only be obtained from a reliable source, as it has occasionally been found to be contaminated with germander, which can cause liver problems. The herb should never be given to children.