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Skullcap

Introduction
Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) is a herb of a member of the mint family from moist soils and rich woods of eastern North America, found from New York to West Virginia and southward to South Carolina, Alabama and Missouri. The blue to lavender flowers are in racemes and grow from the leaf axils of the upper plant. They are hooded, tube shaped, and two lipped the upper lip being the hood and the lower lip having two shallow lobes. Flowers bloom from May to August, gather above ground parts, in the summer as flowers bloom, dry and store for later herb use.

Cultivation
Skullcap is grown in a sunny position and any ordinary garden soil. Seeds are sown in early spring after danger of frost is past. The root is a creeping short rhizome that sends up hairy, square stems, 6 to 18 inches high, branched or in small specimens, nearly simple, with opposite downy leaves, heart-shaped at the base, 0.5 to 2.5 inches long, scalloped or toothed edges.

Pharmaceutical Values
It is a powerful medicinal herb, some valuable constituents found in the plant are Scutellarin, Catalpol, other Volatile oils, bitter iridoids and Tannins. Scientific studies are proving this to be a

valuable plant in many areas for mental disorders. Skullcap is used in the treatment of a wide range of nervous conditions including epilepsy, insomnia, hysteria, anxiety, delerium tremens, withdrawal from barbiturates and tranquilizers. A medicinal infusion of the plant is used to promote menstruation, it should not be given to pregnant women since it can induce a miscarriage, the infusion is also used in the treatment of throat infections. The infusion is given for nervous headaches, neuralgia and in headache arising from incessant coughing, pain, and inducing sleep when necessary, without any unpleasant symptoms following. Skullcap is currently being used as an alternative medicine to treat ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and a number of nerve disorders. Should be used with some caution since in over dose it causes giddiness, stupor, confusion and twitching.

 

Forms
The Skullcap is available in dried form as teas, capsules, tablets, and tinctures. Care should be taken to buy skullcap from a reliable source to ensure the identity of the plant material.

Beware
Recently several herbs, including European products containing germander (Teucrium chamaedrys), have been linked to liver damage. The North American native germander (T. canadensis), also known as wood sage or wild basil, has traditionally been used to induce menstruation, urination, and sweating. It is widely seen as an adulterant in commercial supplies of

skullcap (S. lateriflora). Reports of liver toxicity related to skullcap may actually involve the adulterant, which is traded as 'pink skullcap'. Two cases of 'skullcap' poisoning, including one fatality, were reported from the Riks Hospital in Oslo, Norway, in 1991. It is unclear whether the offending herb was S. lateriflora or a species of Teucrium.


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