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ADHD Herbal Remedies: Skullcap

Our body has the natural capacity to heal itself and recover from most diseases, as long as healthy conditions – such as proper diet and healthy lifestyle – are in place. You might sometimes need to use natural approaches to help better stimulate the body's innate ability to heal. In the case of ADHD, creating a healthy lifestyle, combined with specific herbal remedies, may go a long way in helping you manage ADHD. Skullcap is one of the herbal remedies that can help a lot.

There are two varieties of skullcap: Chinese skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis) and American skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora). Although they share the same name, these herbs are quite different. Chinese skullcap is native of central Asia (including Russia) and is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat allergies, inflammation, and headaches. American skullcap is the variety that can be used in ADHD and other neurological disorders.  Although native to North America, it is now cultivated in Europe and cold northern climes for its curative properties.  The first use of the plant was discovered by colonial Americans, who found out it helped treat rabies bites.  Later on, scientists discovered that skullcap's action as a natural rabies treatment comes from its calming effects on the central nervous system.  Further clinical trials have shown the herb's ability to inhibit muscle spasm and increase the brain's blood supply. 

Although there are no clinical trials evaluating the effects of skullcap on individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, many herbalists and alternative health practitioners recommend the use of skullcap on individuals with the disorder for its tranquilizing effects.   There are many ways to prepare the skullcap herb into remedies. Skullcap extract can be bought in commercially prepared capsules, and the herb may also be made into hot tea.  The recommended amount is two teaspoons of dry skullcap leaves in a cup of hot water. The drink should be prepared three times a day.  Since children will probably be averse to the idea of drinking tea, it may be best to use skullcap as part of a tincture (a highly concentrated herbal extract). Simply combine 5 ml of skullcap with 10 drops of lemon balm and take orally, in drops.  Skullcap should not be taken along with other herbs or medication with a sedative effect, since skullcap can increase the potency of these substances. 

As with all herbal remedies, you must consult a holistic health care practitioner before taking skullcap or giving it to your child.  Although herbs are generally safe for the human body, the effects of skullcap on children have not been explored, and some unexpected reactions may occur.