Traditionally used as a mild sedative for nervousness and insomnia
Traditionally used in the management of headaches
Traditionally used for the pain attending teething in children
Traditionally used for chorea and tremors
Traditionally used for neuralgic pain, such as that associated with shingles or sciatica
Used as an adjunctive treatment for epilepsy
An outstanding nervine tonic and native to North America, scullcap is a herb that has a distinguished history of medicinal use in the West.
Naturopath William Mitchell points out that, "This plant has been used historically by eclectic physicians to treat hysteria, delirium, insomnia, irregular muscular actions, and post-illness nervousness associated with mental and physical exhaustion."
An excellent summary of the therapeutic scope of skullcap is provided by classic British herbalist Mrs. M. Grieve: "In hysteria, convulsionsâ€¦ its action is invaluable. In nervous headaches and in headache arising from incessant coughing and pain, it offers one of the most suitable and reliable remedies."
Health writer Michael Castleman tells of the scientific research that corroborates the efficacy of scullcap: "European and Russian studies have lent support to scullcap's traditional role as a tranquilizer. European medical experts now accept its potential usefulness as a tranquilizer and sedative. The herb is an ingredient in many European over-the-counter sleep preparations."
In his monograph on scullcap, leading herbalist David Hoffmann explains further that, "Skullcap is perhaps the most relevant nervine available to us in the Western materia medica. It effectively soothes nervous tension while renewing and revivifying the central nervous system. It has a long history of traditional use for the control and treatment of petit mal seizures. Skullcap may be used to treat any condition associated with exhaustion or depressed states, and can be used with complete safety to ease premenstrual tension. A recent clinical trial demonstrated that the herb is an effective anxiolytic, with a proposed mechanism involving flavonoid interactions with the GABAA receptor."
Finally, as herbalist Michael Tierra notes, "Skullcap relaxes nervous tension, induces inner calm, and counteracts sleeplessness. In addition it is also used for neurological diseases such as epilepsy and chorea. It is one of the most effective herbs to use to withdraw from alcohol and drugs use; it has considerable detoxification properties that will often prevent or lessen the severity of such withdrawal symptoms as delirium tremens."