By Liz Kelchak, L.Ac.
Skullcap is a Western herb that has been used for many years for anxiety and stress conditions. Skullcap gets its name from its blue flowers, which look like it has two “lips” and resemble the skullcaps worn in medieval times. Several species of skullcap grow in Europe and Asia. The herb also is found throughout the United States and southern Canada.
Skullcap was introduced into traditional medicine toward the end of the 1700s. It was originally used for the treatment of rabies and schizophrenia; it was referred to as maddog weed. It was also used as an herbal tranquilizer, particularly in combination with Valerian root which also has sedative properties.
Today we have found many uses for Skullcap. Skullcap has sedative properties so it is typically used for anxiety disorders, panic attacks, hysteria, delirium, insomnia, muscle tension and spasms, promoting menstruation, headaches, ADHD and epilepsy, and it has been found to be very helpful in overactive nerve conditions like neuralgia.
According to Leslie Tierra, author of “Healing with the Herbs of Life” (1), skullcap has also been found to have an anti-inflammatory action. Guinea pig studies have shown that skullcap also inhibits release of acetylcholine and histamine, two substances released by cells that cause inflammation. Skullcap has been found useful in treating symptoms of withdrawal from alcohol (1), narcotics, barbiturates and tranquilizers.
Side effects/ Dosage:
- Skullcap slows down the nervous system so it may exaggerate the effects of other drugs that cause drowsiness particularly Xanax or other anti-anxiety medications.
- The appropriate dose of skullcap depends on several factors such as the user’s age, health, and several other conditions. A general dose is 500mg-3x/day.
Please talk with a natural health care/herbalist before starting any herbs especially if you have chronic anxiety or other health conditions and if you take any medications!
This supplement is good at providing symptomatic relief. If you suffer from chronic anxiety there are many ways acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help not only manage the symptom but get rid of it completely. Give us a call and see what we can do for you.
(1) Tierra, Lesley, Healing with the Herbs of Life,