Skullcap

Skullcap

scutellaria lateriflora

Skullcap has been used for many years as a sedative and pain relief. In addition, recent studies have been shown that skullcap can be used to manage diabetes.

  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Other names:
  • Medicinal: Yes
  • Culinary: No
  • Ceremonial: No
  • Parts Used: Leaves, Flowers & Stem
  • Side Effects: Avoid during pregnancy & breastfeeding
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About Skullcap

Skullcap, oftentimes spelled as scullcap, is a hardy perennial that owes its rights to the mint family, Lamiaceae. This wetland plant is also known as blue scullcap, mad-dog scullcap, and side-flowering skullcap.

Skullcap can attain a small height of 2 to 3’ with occasional branching. The hairless, pale green stem has cordate-ovate to coarsely serrated and broadly lanceolate leaves. The upper stem is responsible to give rise to small exquisite flowers that can be pale blue, white, or lavender.

The leaves of skullcap have a heavy medicinal history. They were employed as sedative-hypnotic and tranquilizer. Skullcap leaves are hailed for treating a variety of neurological conditions like insomnia, anxiety, convulsions, stroke, and paralysis. Moreover, the skullcap also helps in reducing fever and treating atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries), rabies, inflammation, spasms, skin infections, various other allergies.

The nerve-calming powers of skullcap are due to the biologically active ingredients present in it such as flavonoids (baicalein, baicalin, and wogonin), phenolic compounds, and flavones which bring about anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anxiolytic, and other effects which give physiologically balanced influence.

Growing

Skullcap is a wetland lover and can be grown in outdoor marshy regions indoors.

The seeds of skullcap are firstly stratified at least a week before sowing with moistened vermiculite. After stratification, the mixture is then transferred to the pot where they portray a fast germinate. The germinated seedlings are then transferred outdoors, in the garden bed after all the dangers of frost have departed.

Also, skullcap can be propagated through cuttings and divisions of roots.

Surprisingly, skullcap grown via divisions is more resistant to major pest attacks than the one grown through seeds.

Within two weeks, the seeds of skullcap germinate and start producing stems and leaves. The skullcap plant starts blooming in June and continues with the process till October i.e. mid to late summer.

The flowers are pollinated by bumblebees, bee flies, skippers, or small butterflies. Pollination leads to fertilization which aids in the formation of seedpod at the base of the flower. The pod then matures, contracts and bursts to let out the seeds it had been saving. The bursting of the seedpod results in dispersing the seeds several feet away from the parent plants.

Harvesting

The aerial parts of the skullcap plants are harvested when the plant is undergoing the flowering process.

The aerial part of the skullcap plant i.e. stems, leaves, and flowers are harvested simply by making use of a sharp pair of scissors.

The roots are harvested if the plant is desired to be propagated through divisions or cuttings.

The aerial parts of the skullcap plant are dried under the supervision of air. The stems can be hanging upside down in a well-ventilated room until the leaves become brittle to touch.

Usage

The actions of skullcap plants are utilized by molding the plant into various preparatory forms.

  • Tincture- Infuse fresh or dried skullcap in grain alcohol for 6 weeks. Strain the liquid and place it in a dark and dry place.
  • Tea- Dried or Fresh skullcap herb is steeped for 5 minutes in boiling water to make skullcap tea.
  • Decoction- Dried skullcap herb is decocted to form skullcap decoction.
  • Salve- Fresh or dried skullcap leaves are used to form skullcap salve.
  • Syrup- Fresh or dried skullcap herbs are boiled in water with honey to make skullcap syrup.
  • Infused oil- Fresh or dried skullcap herb is infused in a carrier oil to form skullcap oil.