Tag Archives: neuralgia

Keep Calm with Skullcap

Skullcap is one of the relaxing herbs that are native to the Southeastern United States. These herbs are known as nervines, and they both calm and tone the nervous system. Because of this calming effect, skullcap is used for mild cases of anxiety. Its active components have also been shown to bind serotonin receptors in the brain, so skullcap might be a good addition for other mood issues, such as nervousness with fatigue or depression. Skullcap can also help restless sleep and improve how deeply one sleeps. For sleep, it sometimes works better to take this type of herb a few times throughout the day as well as before bed.

scutellaria-lateriflora

Skullcap can also plays a role in herbal pain formulas. It has mild analgesic and inflammation modulating properties. Because it can also dilate cerebral blood vessels, it is indicated for headaches, especially those located at the base of the brain or forehead. It is also chosen for nerve related pain, like neuralgias. Skullcap may help reduce spasms and is used for some types of tremors. Because of its anti-inflammatory benefits, skullcap is combined with astringent and antiseptic herbs for use with periodontal disease. Finally, skullcap is a digestive stimulant that is particularly chosen for nervous stomachs.

Please note that our recent dry summers have affected the availability and price of some herbs like skullcap that are mostly harvested from the wild in this part of the country.

And for those of you who are trying to figure out the secret theme of my last 15 blogs (except the one on Medicinal Kitchen Spices), here is a hint: Where do I live?

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Antiviral Elderberry for Colds and Flus

Whenever I have a cold or feel like one might be coming one, I reach for elderberry. Mostly, I use a syrup made from the berries, because it is a pleasant herbal remedy that always seems to revive me a little. The berries of the elderberry plant are well known for their moderately strong antiviral benefits that may work by reducing the ability of viruses to invade our cells. Though I use it for colds, elderberry has also been shown in two small studies to help relieve some of the symptoms of influenza compared to placebo. The doses used in these studies were between two to three teaspoons of the syrup multiple times a day. This matches my experience. I feel a greater boost from a larger dose of elderberry as opposed to the teaspoon many products recommend. Also, elderberry needs to be consumed often. Peak levels in the body are reached an hour after consumption and drop off quickly after that. Since elderberry is a very safe herb these fairly high frequent doses are usually not an issue.

Though my main reason to use elderberry is to help fight colds and sore throats, this isn’t the only benefit of elderberry. Elderberry has some immune stimulating attributes, but may also be an immune modulator. This means it may balance out either an overactive or underactive immune system. The berries are also very rich in antioxidants, particularly catechins similar to those in green tea. The flowers of elderberry are occasionally used in cold and flu blends since they can induce sweating and thereby help break a fever. Similarly, they can act as a diuretic and increase urinary output. A less common use of elderberry is to help with symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, maybe mostly because of this diuretic action. Elderberry is also thought to help the nerves and has been used for neuralgia and sciatica.