Scutellaria lateriflora. N.O. Labiateae.
Synonym ► Sometimes named Skullcap, and locally known as Madweed.
Habitat ► Indigenous to the United States, the plant is also found in England on the banks of streams and in wet ditches.
Features ► A strong, straight, square stem reaches eighteen inches in height, and heart- or lance-shaped, tooth-edged leaves grow opposite each other on a short stalk. The pale blue flowers, with a helmet-shaped upper lip, bloom in pairs just above the leaves. Both taste and odour are feeble.
Part used ► The whole herb.
Action ► One of the finest nervines known to herbalism, the whole herb is also antispasmodic and tonic in action.
The properties of Scullcap are said to have been first appreciated by Vandesveer in 1772 for use against hydrophobia. Scullcap is now employed, often with Valerian, in hysteria and insomnia, and is reputed to be effective in the treatment of epilepsy.
Coffin prescribed Scullcap in powder, decoction, and infusion, his dose of the powder being from one-half to a teaspoonful. Half a teacupful of the boiling water infusion of 1 ounce to 1 pint may be taken three or four times daily. This herb deteriorates rapidly from age and heat, and it should be kept in airtight containers.