Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora - aka scullcap) is a sedative and general tonic for the nervous system. It calms anxiety and irritability while it lifts spirits and even eases the pain of headaches. I like to use it at night when my mind is racing and I'm having trouble sleeping. A dropper full of skullcap tincture usually sends me off into a deep, restful sleep.
Be sure to make a positive ID first before gathering the wild herb and never gather more than 1/3 of what's available. Freshly wilted skullcap leaves are best, but you can also purchase dried organic skullcap leaves for use in this recipe. (You can purchase the finished tincture too for that matter.)
To make the tincture you'll need a clean half pint glass jar, 1/2 cup of wilted or dried skullcap leaves, and enough 100 proof vodka or Everclear to fill your jar. Add the leaves and alcohol, then stir, cap and label your tincture. Be sure to put the date on it too. Keep the jar visible so you can shake it every day or so but keep it out of direct sunlight. At the end of six weeks, strain the tincture through several layers of cheesecloth or an unbleached coffee filter and compost the leaves.
Use skullcap to promote sleep and relaxation or to get you through a particularly stressful day. Although considered completely safe when taken in normal doses, skullcap is not recommended for pregnant or nursing women or for young children. You can add 15-20 drops to any beverage 3 or 4 times a day, or if you're brave like me, just swallow it straight. Good medicine is supposed to taste bad, right?