Scullcap is a member of the Mint family, the Labiatae. The true ‘lateriflora’ (small flowers growing in panicles from a diminutive, shade loving, woodland plant) is very difficult to domesticate. It likes moisture, and will grow readily in semi-dry streambeds under filtered sunlight. It is a favorite snack of deer (agitated deer, that is). I exclusively wild-harvest this plant for its leaves and some flowers, usually during the month of August, but anytime earlier is fine too.
Elemental associations: Water
Phytochemistry: Flavo-glycosides, bitter principles (D. Hoffmann)
Actions: Hypnotic, relaxant, nervine tonic
Specific systems: Nervous
This herb is our best local choice for anxiety. It is not entirely sedating, but rather gently relaxes the muscles and the thought processes to give a non-intoxicating sense of relief. As such, it makes a great tonic for the nervous system and is the best choice for long-term use. If there is tension and irritability, especially when expressed in the musculature, use Scullcap as a part of any tonic blend.
Some herbalists recommend it in the treatment of epilepsy and spasmodic muscle conditions resulting from the nervous system; I have no personal experience with this, but it makes good sense.
The tincture works very well for headaches, especially when combined with a gentle relaxation technique (breath, visualization, etc…)
Indications: Anxiety, nervous tension, epilepsy, tension headaches
Contraindications: None really.
Preparations/Dosage: A tincture is made from the fresh plant, 40%, 1:2 or 1:3. Take ½ to 1 tsp., 3 times daily, for anxiety and tension; take 2 tsp. for headache.
Alternatively, an infusion of the dried herb is good as well; use 3 TBS per quart of water, and drink throughout the day, perhaps combined with Oat tops and/or Lemon Balm.