Health is a word that means something different to each person. For me, it is more than a word; it is a lived experience. My name is Megan. I am a clinical herbalist, nutritionist, and flower essence practitioner, and this is my experience.
I was a small child around the age of eight when my health journey started; as I look back, I can see the progression of seemingly disconnected aliments piling up. The stomach aches that started first, complaints after eating, and pickiness about certain foods. Then came the frequent earaches and sore throats. My tonsils were taken out, and tubes were placed in my ears in hopes of helping the chronic strep throat and tonsillitis.
As I entered the time of my menarche (the time in a woman’s life when she experiences her first period), I had my first seizure. My mom had woken me from a nap to prepare me for piano lessons, and as we walked outside to the car, I fell unconscious and into my first grand mal seizure. I was in fourth grade and ten years old. This was the first of hundreds of seizures that led to the diagnosis of juvenile myoclonic epilepsy. This initial diagnosis of Epilepsy was encompassed in fear and the unknown. Information given to my parents by our leading medical establishment was confusing and unclear. What was causing the seizures? How long would I have the seizures? When would the seizures occur? All was unclear and remained unanswered. The only thing that was known was that I needed to be medicated.
Children are inquisitive, and I was no exception. I remember asking my doctors and my parent why. Why are these seizures happening? What am I doing wrong? What is wrong with me? There were no answers, and as I grew, I never gave up asking those questions. Those questions transformed a scary experience into a successful health journey. Growing up in the 90s and living in rural northwest Iowa, alternative forms of medicine were not talked about or available. I did not uncover herbal medicine until I was 25 years old. Once I did, I knew that was the path I had been searching for all along.
At 25, I was at a crossroads; I could foresee the future I would have if I continued on pharmaceutical medication to treat my seizures, but I knew I wanted a different experience. After 15 years of switching and maxing out medications, my options were running out, and my symptoms were getting worse. I was unable to hold a job; I was not able to drive a car; I was visiting the ER two to three times a week due to dislocated shoulders from seizures. I was depressed, weak, and still, I had the hope for something more.
Around this time, I took a trip to Colorado to visit family. We visited my first-ever herbal apothecary. I walked up to the counter and asked the herbalist at the counter if they had any recommendations for seizures. I was sent home with one single herb: Skullcap. I had an immediate connection with this plant. I began brewing myself cups of tea throughout the day, and one week would go by without a seizure, then one month, then two months. I was elated. I was hooked. Within months I was registered at the Colorado School of Herbalism; I had encountered a crossroads and made a decision.
Health means something different to me today than to that 25-year-old woman. Along the way, I discovered many parts of the human spirit, from depression and fear to understanding and hope. It is from these experiences I came to understand that the growth of our spirit happens during times of fear and times of trial. Health is a constant choice, a journey, not a destination. It is an understanding of what works well for one’s body. It is a connection between our physical body and our spiritual body.
In each issue as we begin this journey together, I will share different herbal recipes and knowledge on medicinal herbs, and what better herb to start with than the herb that introduced me to herbal medicine… Skullcap.
Skullcap Materia Medica
(Materia medica is a Latin term translated simply to: ‘On Medical Material.” It is a source or book involving clinical information, history, and properties of medicine.) (1)
Botanical Name: Scutelleria lateriflora
Common Name: Skullcap, Scullcap
Part Used: Aerial (Flower, Leaf, Stem, Everything above the ground) (2)(4)
Constituents: Flavonoids, Bitter Iridoids, Volatile Oils, Tannins, Resin, Bitter Glycoside, Fat, Sugar (2)(3)
Clinical Actions: Sedative, Nervine Tonic, Antispasmodic, Mild Bitter, Hypnotic, Stomachic, Astringent, Aromatic (2)(3)
Common Uses: Restorative actions on the nervous system; supports and nourish hysteria, epilepsy, convulsions, and serious mental illness, calms and relieves stress, anxiety, insomnia, strengthens brain; supportive in times of addiction (drug and alcohol) withdrawal, mild antispasmodic effects, stimulates menstruation (2)(3)(4)
Energetics: Cool, Dry, Bitter. (2)(3)
Organ System Effected: Central Nervous System, Nerves, Brain, Muscles. (4)
Common Form: Infusion, Capsules, Tincture
Infusion used for short-term stress and anxiety
Capsules: for nervous exhaustion and insomnia
Tincture: for nervous tension and headaches (2)
Cautions: Not recommended during pregnancy. It has been found adulterated with germander, a hepatotoxic herb. It should be handled by experienced practitioners only to ensure genuine herb. (3)
1. Wikipedia contributors. “Materia medica.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 16 Mar. 2023. Web. 11 Jun. 2023.
2. Chevallie, Andrew. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine. DK Pub., New York, c2000. p 135
3. Skenderi, Gazmend. Herbal Bade Mecum. Herbacy Press. Rutherford, NJ, c2003. p 346
4. Tierra, Michael. Planetary Herbology. Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, WI. c2018 p 354-355
By Megan Fuhrman-Wheeler, owner of MEGAN & CO. Herbal Apothecary and Clinic. It is Megan’s hope to spread herbal knowledge to rural America in a safe, constructive, and accessible manner. She has been a trained and working herbalist for the past ten years.
Trained at the Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism
Certified Clinical Herbalist
Certified Clinical Nutritionist
Certified Flower Essence Practitioner