Many of you may be familiar with St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) for improved mood. But I’d also like to tell you about my favorite herb for calming frazzled nerves, Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora).  It wouldn’t be accurate to say that I prefer one over the other but I have a special liking for skullcap because it has helped me through some difficult times.  However, I have noticed a difference in the way the two herbs work in my system. 


St. John’s Wort

 I use St. John’s Wort to calm my nerves whenever I feel like I have steam coming out of my ears.  It is my go to herb for when people are just getting on my last nerve but I want to avoid popping off by saying something too abrupt or doing something in haste — St. John’s Wort is great for this.  I’m pretty sure it kept me from losing my job on more than one occasion. After taking it, I am able to articulate my viewpoint — whether face-to-face, by phone, or via email — with an absence of excess passion or hostility. I can keep the tone of my voice neutral and I’m able to refrain from making ugly faces and excitable hand gestures.



But sometimes your nerves need calming in a different way. I refer to this as being in a frazzled state. Some may call it nervous excitement, paranoia, being hysterical, or even having a panic attack.  You may not even be able to pinpoint a specific reason for why you’re feeling that way.  For this type of condition, skullcap is a lifesaver! For those nights you can’t sleep because your mind keeps racing with fear and visions of the boogey man – skullcap. When you feel a tightness in your chest due to generalized anxiety and worry – skullcap.


When to Use Which

Skullcap works for anger and annoyance as well, but in my experience, it feels somewhat different. Skullcap has more of a sedative action with it. It doesn’t make you sleepy or loopy, but it does promote a release of mental anguish. Therefore, if there’s a situation about which I should legitimately be upset, with skullcap, the implications of the situation don’t really register, and therefore, I don’t respond appropriately, if at all. By contrast, with St. John’s Wort, the implications register, however, my mind remains calm and I’m able to effectively address the situation without escalating the situation.
Have you used Skullcap or St. John’s Wort? What was your experience?

  1. I have always suffered from migraines and sleepless nights due to work. Skull cap sounds like a great herb to use, but I’m wondering how do you use it. Do you take it in pills form (such as tonic) or do you cook it? Brew it into Tea? Usually I just take peppermint tea to try to calm myself down after a stressful or long day.

    • Hi Leo,

      Thanks for your comment. You would take Skullcap leaves in tea or tincture form. Not sure in which part of the world you’re located, but it can be ordered on


  2. Simon Crowe in Asia

    Hi Victoria,

    I’ll be honest and say I’ve never come across Skullcap before. I have used St John’s Wort though many times and I know what you mean, it really does help you get perspective and a back on track.

    As a night owl who thinks too much, I amvery interested to give Skullcap a try. It’s a good job I don’t let the names put me off isn’t it?! Thanks so much for comparing the two, really helpful.

    • Lol, Simon — yes, the name is pretty scary. I think the spelling has actually evolved erroneously, as so many things do. You will often notice the spelling as ‘scullcap’ as well, coming from the Latin scutella, which means a small shield, or something like that. When you see the flower, it makes sense because the top petals are folded over like a little protective cap while the

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