American Skullcap (Scutellaria laterifolia Laminaceae)

American Skullcap (Scutellaria laterifolia Laminaceae)

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Baikal and American skullcap varieties are not interchangeable and are used to treat different conditions.

American skullcap is a slender, heavily branched plant that grows 2-4 feet high. It derives its name from the cap-like appearance of the outer whorl of its small blue or purple flowers. It is a perennial native to North America that was used for centuries by First Nations to treat digestive and kidney complaints, menstrual disorders and nervous tension. Although skullcap grew wild throughout Europe before the colonization of America, European settlers learned how to use it from Native American tribes. Herbalists then brought it back to Europe in the 19th century. Today, it is used primarily as a sleeping aid and sedative as well as to relieve tension, nervousness and irritability associated with stress.

Although the leaves and stems of American skullcap can be used for medicinal purposes, they are best made into a fresh plant tincture.