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A useful medicinal tincture (H.) is made from the Skullcap (Scutellaria), which is a Labiate plant of frequent growth on the banks of our rivers and ponds, having bright blue flowers, with a tube longer than the calyx.
This is the greater variety (Galericulata). There is a lesser variety (Scutellaria minor), which is infrequent, and grows in bogs about the West of England, with flowers of a dull purple colour. Each kind gets its name from the Latin scutella, "a little cap," which the calyx resembles, and is therefore called Hood Wort, or Helmet flower. The upper lip of the calyx bulges outward about its middle, and finally closes down like a lid over the fruit. When the seed is ripe it opens again.
Provers of the tincture (H.) in toxic doses experienced giddiness, stupor, and confusion of mind, twitchings of the limbs, intermission of the pulse, and other symptoms indicative of the epileptiform "petit mal"; for which morbid affection, and the disposition thereto, the said tincture, of a diluted strength, in small doses, has been successfully given.
The greater Skullcap contains, in common with most other plants of the same order, a volatile oil, tannin, fat, some bitter principle, sugar, and cellulose.
If a decoction of the plant is made with two ounces of the herb to eight ounces of water, and is taken for some weeks continuously in recent epilepsy, or when the disease has only functional causes, it will often prove very beneficial. Likewise, this decoction, in common with an extract of the herb, has been given curatively for intermittent fever and ague, as well as for some depressed, and disordered states of the nervous system.
A dried extract of the lesser Skullcap (Lateriflora) is made by chemists, and given in doses of from one to three grains as a pill to relieve severe hiccough, and as a nervine stimulant; also for the sleeplessness of an exhausted brain.