American skullcap is a perennial that can reach heights of three feet or more. It is a member of the mint family and can be found growing in wooded areas and damp meadows throughout Northern America. Its blue flowers bloom in the late summer. They are collected along with the leaves and stems to be dried for use in medicine.
American skullcap is not to be mistaken for its related species called Baikal or Chinese skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis).
Because of its slightly calming effects, American skullcap has been used as the main component in a variety of medicinal tonics. Today it is more effective and less harmful than in years past. Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), or mad dog weed, has been used for rabies. It has been used for over two hundred years as a mild relaxant that affects the nervous and musculoskeletal systems. It has also been used in therapy for anxiety, nervous tension, hysteria, and convulsions and is currently used in connection with symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS), stress-related headaches, anorexia nervosa, and insomnia.
Today skullcap is commonly used in connection with anxiety, nervous tension, muscle spasms, PMS-related symptoms, tension headaches, restless legs syndrome, insomnia, and mild Tourette's syndrome.Dosage and Administration
Skullcap may be used for calming purposes in children as a mild tea. The dose is given according to the child's age and weight.
- Children 1 to 2 years (24 lb [11 kg] or less) - Ã‚Â¼ cup one to three times per day
- Children 3 to 6 years (25 to 48 lb [11 to 22 kg]) - Ã‚Â½ cup one to four times per day
- Children 7 to 11 years (49 to 95 lb [22 to 43 kg]) - Ã‚Â¾ cup one to four times per day
- Children 12 and older (over 95 lb [43 kg]) - 1 cup one to four times per day
It is best to steep tea bags or 1 tsp of dried leaves in a cup of boiling water for 2 minutes. The suggested adult dosage for skullcap is 1 to 2g three times per day. Precautions and Possible Side Effects
It has been reported that American skullcap may cause liver damage. Individuals with any type of liver condition should not take American skullcap. Avoid taking American skullcap if you are pregnant or nursing. Skullcap is not normally recommended for children under the age of 18.