Skullcap may sound like some kind of weird medical headgear, and while it can provide your head and its contents some benefits (which we will discuss further on), it is, in fact, a plant. the name is derived from the plant's blue flowers, which look as though they have a cap covering one end of them.
There are two types of Skullcap used for medicinal purposes, namely Chinese skullcap, and American Skullcap.
The Chinese version is used for traditional Chinese medicine and is known for its ability to treat allergies and infections, with some studies suggesting that it has cancer prevention properties too.
As good as the version may be, in this article, we are going to be dealing with American Skullcap, and in particular we will be looking at the 5 benefits it has which will help to prevent or reduce nerve pain caused as a result of neuropathy.
1. Diabetic Control
As with most ailments, rather than trying to mask or alleviate the symptoms, one of the best ways to address it can instead be to nullify the root cause.
In the case of nerve pain associated with neuropathy, the most likely cause is going to be diabetes. So, to continue that theory, the goal should be to ensure that blood sugar levels are controlled as well as they possibly can be.
By keeping blood sugar levels within good limits, it means that not only will the acceleration of peripheral neuropathy be held back but the increase in nerve pain that would inevitably follow is also curtailed.
Several studies have been undertaken to see why skullcap is so successful in helping to control blood sugar levels, and thus limit the number of complications that poor control can lead to.
Some evidence points to skullcap being able to improve the body's production of insulin. In addition to this, it is also thought to aid the pancreas’s capacity to control the amount of insulin that it releases.
A further benefit that skullcap has been shown to offer is the ability to lower the levels of cholesterol in the body. Keeping cholesterol levels in check is known to be a factor in helping to both reduce the risk of diabetes and to aid its control in those who have diabetes.
A further benefit of lowering cholesterol is it helps to keep your arteries from clogging up with plaque, which not only reduces your risk of a heart attack, more specifically in terms of neurology, it helps keep a healthy blood flow throughout your body. With this being a vital requirement to help deal with peripheral neurology it is an important benefit that skullcap can provide.
2. Helps to Overcome Anxiety
There is a well-documented, and respected school of thought that states that any illness needs to be cured in the mind before it can be dealt with physically.
The theory is that when your mind and body are not at ease, it opens up the door to sickness and illness of both a mental and physical nature.
If you look at the word 'disease' it literally means 'the opposite of at ease,' which there's no denying is how most illnesses, including peripheral neuropathy, make us feel.
When anxiety takes hold of us, it is like a green light to a whole host of ailments to appear. Shortness of breath, panic attacks, chest pains, dizziness, and poor digestion are but a few of the common symptoms.
More worryingly, anxiety is known to increase the chances of many chronic conditions developing, and of course, that is going to include diabetes, and subsequently neuropathy, and potential nerve pain.
There are many ways in which anxiety can be alleviated, and given how serious condition it can be, you should always seek the advice of your doctor or medical consultant. However, if you want to try a nice skullcap tea, which can provide some light sedative qualities, and promote sound sleep, then here is the recipe to do so.
For 2 servings, all you need is 2 cups of boiling water and a tablespoon of high-quality skullcap herb. Put these into a teapot and leave them for 10 minutes. When the time is up your skullcap tea is ready to pour.
Going back the point about your mind and body being at ease, if skullcap tea can contribute to lowering your anxiety levels and allows you to get a decent night's sleep, then the cells within your body will be healthier, including those related to insulin production and blood sugar regulation. If that is achieved, then the effects of neuropathy can be better controlled too.
3. Reducing Inflammation
Whenever inflammation occurs within your body it can either be the source of pain or in many cases it can multiply the pain which has been caused by other conditions, which will obviously include neuropathy induced nerve pain.
Other symptoms of peripheral neuropathy such as stiff joints, weak muscles, and numbness are all made worse if the areas around them become inflamed. The primary constituents of skullcap that help to reduce inflammation are flavonoids and antioxidants.
Antioxidants are compounds which are produced naturally within your body, and they act to protect your organs and cells from harmful elements such as free radicals. If there is a deficiency in the level of antioxidants in your body, the results can be serious with the risk of heart disease, cancer, and other chronic ailments.
One such chronic ailment is Type 2 diabetes, so this alone should alert you to important antioxidant levels are to help combat neuropathy. Thankfully, you can supplement the levels of antioxidants in your body through ingesting supplements, and obviously, that includes skullcap.
The flavonoids also have excellent anti-inflammatory properties, and this is often why people are encouraged to eat foods rich in flavonoids if they suffer from ailments such as arthritis.
The foods most rich in flavonoids are fruits and vegetables, and this includes herbs like skullcap. By using skullcap in conjunction with a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables you should be able to keep inflammation in check, and thus reduce the pain within your nerves.
4. Removing Toxins
We mentioned how important antioxidants are in the last section with regards to the health of your organs and cells.
The healthier these are, the less likely the chances of you developing neuropathy and its symptoms such as nerve pain. However, antioxidants play an even bigger role in our health, as they help 'clean house' as well.
What we mean that is that antioxidants are a very important factor in the body being able to rid itself of unwanted toxins. As you may know, your liver is the major organ which does the critical job of removing toxins via urine or bile.
To make sure that the liver is functioning at its peak and processing these toxins efficiently, antioxidants help keep it healthy, and also to recover more quickly if you have been ill.
With fewer toxins in your body, you are bound to healthier and have more energy, two key components in keeping blood sugar levels under control, and subsequently preventing neuropathy from inducing more painful damage to your nerves.
5. Pain Relief
You might think it odd that in an article relating to how skullcap can help deal with nerve pain, that we include the benefit of pain relief as the final benefit.
The reason is not to in any way minimize this benefit, but to highlight the fact that often the best way to avoid pain is to curtail the things that might create it. With this in mind, that is why we have focused on the 4 previous benefits which help reduce the effects of neuropathy at the source.
Nevertheless, nerve pain is still a possibility, and this is why skullcap is such an excellent herb because even if it doesn't manage to prevent the causes of nerve pain, it can alleviate the symptoms of it. The reason that skullcap can do this is due to the analgesic properties that it has.
You can drink the tea recipe we gave you in section 2, and while this will provide general pain relief throughout your whole body, if you want to target the specific area where your nerve pain exists, you need to use skullcap in a different way.
What's needed is skullcap to be in the form of a paste or cream which you apply directly to the affected area. These can be purchased over the counter, but we must stress that you want to check that any you buy is from a reputable manufacturer whose herbal products have a good reputation.
A further benefit of applying skullcap topically in this way is that the phenolic compounds which exist within it, can help stimulate the flow of blood around the area it is applied.
Additional Herbs and Supplements
In addition to Skullcap, there are many other herbs and vitamins that support optimal nerve health. It's important to not rely on only one herb, but rather take a holistic approach to treating the condition, combining supplementation, a healthy diet, and low impact daily exercises into your life.