Skullcap, named for the shape of its flowers, is also known sometimes as “mad dog” because of its use for calming the muscle spasms that come with rabies, which made early users believe it was a cure. As a cure for rabies, it has been disproved, but it is still an excellent antispasmodic and great for those who suffer from anxiety. Including the anxiety that comes from withdrawal symptoms. If you have ever quit smoking, or also had the misfortune to ween off an opiate you know what I am talking about. It also is great for tension headaches, migraines, and a sedative.
I was inspired to write this post after a discussion I had today. I suffered a lot from migraines, still do from time to time. The pain of a migraine can be all encompassing, and can make even the strongest soul pray for death’s sweet release just to escape the pain. That is why, if there is something that can alleviate this, not make you feel like a zombie, and improve the mood to boot, I want all tension headache and migraine sufferers to know about it.
For ages Skullcap has been known as a great treatment for nerves and spasms. If you suffer from tension headaches this is definitely something to look into for treating them occasionally with natural means. Muscle spasms and nerve issues are a large part of my pain issues, and something that I am always seeking to relieve and possibly control. Also, it you are a similar migraine sufferer like I am (especially when a storm rolls in), the headaches are triggered by muscle spasms but are no less painful than other migraines. I had tried many things to treat mine and even resorted to being Botoxed, twice. Recently my migraines were more rare and I went out of town leaving my migraine medication at home (pretty smart, right?) and of course I suffered some intense migraines with nothing to take. Upon my return I was still experiencing pain and a friend of mine mentioned that they had used Skullcap and the one thing mentioned that made me go, “I need to look into this” is it relieved the “behind the eye” pressure. A place most of my migraines live, and I have to say I have been pleased with the results. Not only did the migraine pain reduce to a level that allowed me to function, but I felt pretty awesome. Not giddy but just that everything was right in the world, quite a different mood to the grumpy and irritable migraine person I was prior. I have used it a few times now to treat my migraines and this is a great nervine and sedative.
ProTip: Make sure you are getting PURE Skullcap! Skullcap has and can be adulterated with germander, and this can cause liver and other issues. Please make sure you are getting your Skullcap from a reputable dealer that can assure you no germander touched your Skullcap. Also, this is an herb you should use sparingly in small amounts and never for repeat daily use for very long. The side effects for over dosing are giddiness and confusion, but can lead to nausea stupor, irregular heart rate, twitching and others. But as long as you are not ingesting large amounts you should not run into any of these issues. Remember you need to educate yourself as much as possible before using Skullcap or any supplement. Always consult a professional if you are ever in doubt.
This, like peppermint, is actually fairly easy to find as a ready made tea you can buy in sachets off the shelf. There are a few companies like this one or this one, that sell them as blends or “straight” but I personally again prefer to make capsules (like with Turmeric).
To make your own tea from fresh or dried Skullcap for sleepy time tea use these ratios:
- 2 cups boiling water
- 1 tablespoon dried or fresh skullcap
- add a cup of water if you want to add an additional tablespoon of Chamomile, Passion Flower, Holy Basil, or even (but use less) Kava just make sure you don’t over do it, especially if you use the extract form of Kava)
You can also do a “medicinal” brew of the skullcap for more pain related treatments. That would be a recipe along the lines of:
- 1 oz of dried Skullcap
- 1 pint of water
Boil the water and steep for at least 10 minutes in a covered pot, you can treat with half a teacup (about 5-6 fluid ounces) every few hours for pain.
I also have a Stress and Migraine tea I have concocted myself that has had good results, look for it here.
WARNING: Skullcap is definitely an herb you can take too much of easily and it can cause some severe discomfort with side effects that feel like a heart attack. DO NOT EVER mix tinctures or extracts into teas, or use them in addition to teas or pills. Start with the SMALLEST possible doses and see how you react. Use common sense!
Like I said previously I prefer a capsule, but you can always use the teas or tinctures, they are always available in most herb stores, tea stores, and online. Again, always remember with this one always start with the lowest dose, and do not exceed a gram if you are taking this in a capsule or powdered form. Also make sure that you don’t take Skullcap over consecutive days if possible, try to put a time spacer in before taking a second dose. Jaw pain has been reported to me by a friend after taking it over consecutive days.
Always make sure to educate yourself before taking anything, and check reactions with your current medications or herbs. WebMD is always a good resource, but make sure you know what you are putting in you before you do!