What is Skullcap?

Skullcap gets its name from its blue flowers, which have two "lips" and are reminiscent of the skullcaps worn in medieval times. Several species of skullcap grow in Europe and Asia. The herb also is found throughout the United States and southern Canada.


As it was named after a covering, it isn't surprising that skullcap is often used as a herbal remedy to protect against rabies symptoms and relieve tension, lower blood pressure and more.

Uses for Skullcap

Skullcap is sometimes called "mad dog," in reference to its historical use in treating the symptoms of rabies, which can result from the bite of a rabid dog. Skullcap quiets nervous tension and eases muscle tension and spasms. Skullcap also induces sleep without strongly sedating or stupefying. Skullcap may help to lower elevated blood pressure.

Skullcap has been used for abnormally tense or twitching muscles, as occurs with rabies, Parkinson's disease, St. Vitus dance (acute chorea, a nervous system disease characterized by involuntary movements of the limbs), and epilepsy.

Skullcap has also been found to have an anti-inflammatory action. Guinea pig studies have shown that skullcap also inhibits release of acetylcholine and histamine, two substances released by cells that cause inflammation.

Skullcap quiets nervous tension and eases muscle tension and spasms and induces sleep

Skullcap Preparations and Dosage

Skullcap's leaves, collected in late spring and early summer when the small plant is in flower, and  minuscule flowers can help calm -- if taken correctly. The following information offers skullcap preparation ideas.

Skullcap Preparations and Dosage

Skullcap leaves and tiny flowers are dried for teas, tinctured, or powdered and encapsulated.

Tea: For severe anxiety, drink 3 to 6 cups a day for a day or two, reducing thereafter to 2 to 3 cups per day as needed. For less severe cases and long-term use, drink 1 to 3 cups a day. Prepare teas by infusing 1 tablespoon of skullcap in a cup of hot water for 15 minutes.

Tincture: Take 1/4 to 1 teaspoon of tincture, two to four times a day, depending on your response. Start with the low dose and increase as needed.

Capsules: Take 2 capsules, two to four times a day, as needed.

Skullcap Precautions and Warnings


Side Effects of Skullcap

Rarely, cases of stomach cramping and diarrhea have been reported. There have also been rare reports of skullcap causing hepatitis, but many of these cases may have resulted from mistaken use of germander, a plant that resembles skullcap.

Side effects aside, skullcap can help reduce anxiety for those experiencing stress. With a fairly limited amount of side effects and suggested precautions, it may be worth a try.