Skullcap, so happy together
In a way, I’m shocked that I haven’t written about Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora; Family: Lamiaceae, Mint) yet. Seriously one of my favorite herbs and my special nervine partner.
I just love it.
So much so that I can’t think of it, see it or hear about it without the Turtles song “Happy Together” running through my head.
Heck, I think my herby friends have a lottery going to see how long before I start humming the tune after someone says Skullcap.
Some of the other commons names for it are: Blue Skullcap, Hoodwort, Virginian Skullcap, Mad-dog Skullcap. Mad-dog Skullcap being the most amusing for its dubious use in the past for rabies.
Skullcap is a classic nervine, sedative, a bit of a bitter and mild antispasmodic. It is high in minerals useful for the nervous system, so it nourishes and supports it to help calm stress and anxiety. It’s a very commonly used for insomnia and pairs particularly well with Chamomile for sleeping issues in general.
Different nervines have different affinities and are better suited for some folks than others depending on their nature and the nature of the issue they are working on. I tend to think of Skullcap as best for when you’re finding your nervous system is over stimulated and needs help to tone down.
My first flush of love for Skullcap was when used to have a dreadful time sleeping at night and it was a regular part of a tea blend to help me sleep. Nowadays that isn’t so much an issue for me and my regular use of Skullcap fell by the wayside, then I re-discovered it in another way.
Skullcap ties nicely with releasing tension in skeletal muscles, and helps ease muscle tension in general – especially related to stress as well as general physical or emotional exhaustion. It’s not a full on muscle relaxant, you’d look to something like Kava for that, but I’ve been finding it particularly adept in supporting my after yoga practice issues.
Sometimes when I’m working in new asanas or beginning to really have conversations with muscles long dormant and make demands on them they’ve never felt before. They get cranky and carry a bit of specific nervous tension to them for a while.
During those times I will often drink more Skullcap tea generally paired with Nettles for the extra minerals punch which cranky muscles love. Or eat more seaweed for the same mineral awesomeness. (And, of course, extra quality protein in building those muscles!) I’ve been finding the combination incredibly supportive in my yoga work.
So Skullcap has become a big part of my life again in my yoga practice.
In general, in Western herbalism we use the aerial parts (leaves, stems, flowers) which is an interesting contrast because it is originally a Native American herb (used mainly by the Cherokee) and they tended to use the roots and in somewhat different ways – more as a women’s herb. Where it was used in purification ceremonies associated with menstruation. Decoctions of the root were used to stimulate menstruation and ease breast pain. And it was also used to flush the kidneys as well as for diarrhea. None of which are uses we follow with in contemporary Western herbalism. But sound like interesting areas to explore….
Anyway, Skullcap has proven a twice blessed herb in my life first for aid in for sleeping problems I used to have and now again it support of my yoga practice.
Who knows what the future holds for us…
“Me and you and you and me
No matter how they toss the dice, it has to be
The only one for me is you, and you for me
So happy together…”