“Nearly every day is a battle with bouts of worry, restlessness, irritability, and adverse reactions to stress. Life can sometimes seem like a never ending struggle as my worry-filled days turn into nights spent tossing and turning. Low on sleep and heavy with nervous energy, I often find myself dreading much of the day ahead.”
If that grim description sounds like an excerpt from your life, rest assured that you are not alone. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 40 million American adults suffer from anxiety disorders—that’s 18.1% of the population!—and 10% of those affected either do not recognize the problem or simply refuse to seek help.
I wrote that paragraph in my personal diary a few years ago during a particularly bad anxiety “flare-up,” as I like to call it. Since that time, I have found a number of excellent ways to help manage my reactions to flare-ups, including practicing yoga and actively sharing my concerns with others, but I still wasn’t satisfied. Wasn’t there something I could do to get rid of the anxiety flare-ups altogether?The answer is both yes and no.
My practice of herbalism has introduced me to many plant allies whose claim to fame is relaxation and stress reduction resulting in sleep, including Valerian Root, Lavender Flower, Chamomile, Holy Basil, Catnip, Passion Flower, and Lemon Balm. But the herb that changed my life was Skullcap.
Scutellaria Lateriflora, or Skullcap, is a powerful medicinal herb that has been used for centuries to calm the nerves, soothe the mind, and improve mood over time. It can be taken at the onset of a panic attack or a nervous headache to help lessen or alleviate symptoms. It is prescribed by herbalists for a wide variety of mental and nervine disorders—including depression and epilepsy! Skullcap is non-habit-forming and without side effects if taken in low dosages. This soothing herb holds long-standing traditional uses in Cherokee herbal medicine, where it was utilized as a ceremonial emmenagogue (a substance that induces menstruation) to usher young girls into womanhood. For this reason, pregnant women should avoid taking Skullcap, as high dosages could cause a miscarriage. Those suffering from liver disease should also avoid Skullcap. Energetically, Skullcap is cooling and bitter, making it a good choice for those with heat excitable conditions. For example, if you are irritated in hot weather, have a Type A personality with anxiety, or become easily excited or angered, then Skullcap would make a great ally for you.
While many herbs help to reduce stress, including those lovely plants listed above, Skullcap is unique in that it does not cause too much drowsiness. This does not mean that Skullcap can’t help you sleep, though! If you lie awake at night unable to stop rethinking the events of the day or planning what you will do tomorrow, taking a dose of Skullcap before bed will quiet your mind and provide a sense of peace, allowing you to fall asleep naturally. This is precisely why Skullcap is a non-addictive sleep aide.
If Skullcap sounds right for you, there are several different ways to enjoy its soothing benefits. Herbal teas containing Skullcap, like Peach Parade’s “Settle Down” Anti-Anxiety Aide: Herbal Tea Blend, are medicinally gentle and quite tasty as well! I recommend drinking a cup of Skullcap Tea every night, approximately 1 hour before bed to settle the mind for a good night’s rest and to improve your mood overtime.
If you suffer from panic attacks, nervous headaches, or sudden and dramatic mood swings due to stress throughout the day, Skullcap Herbal Tincture might be a better choice for you. Taking a small dose under the tongue or in hot liquid at the onset of a flare-up can provide much faster relief than a tea extraction.
Unfortunately, anxiety is a part of life for a significant proportion of adults today, and it’s something that we must learn to cope with. While prescription drugs can numb the senses until our worry is gone, no natural medicine will ever banish worry for good. However, with the help of herbal supplements, the amount of anxiety flare-ups you face can dramatically decrease overtime, and the ability to manage these flare-ups will be strengthened, resulting in happier days and restful nights.
About the Author:
Folk Herbalist Emily Spina is a blogger and educator specializing in all-natural green beauty and Earth conscious self-care. She received her homeopathic education through online schools, including Chestnut School of Herbalism, Evolutionary Herbalism, and One Willow Apothecaries, as well as hands on learning right here in Buffalo, NY, and is continually seeking to gain knowledge from spiritual healers. As the founder and lead crafter of Peach Parade, Emily has a close connection with the local plantlife--gathering wild flowers and herbs for the medicines that her apothecary offers. She can generally be found practicing yoga near her medicinal garden or wandering through the local woods in search of new plant allies. Meet her in person at our "Embracing Self-Care: Beauty + Sleep" workshop on Saturday - September 23rd. She will be hosting the DIY portion teaching us how to make toners for individual skin type and selling some of her homemade products.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Consult with a medical professional before taking or supplementing natural remedies with any current medications.