Scientific Name/Common Name: Scutellaria lateriflora / Skullcap
Part(s) Used: Leaf
Constituents/Active Ingredients: flavonoids (apigenin, hispidulin, luteolin, scutellarein, scutellarin (bitter glycoside); iridoids (catalpol); volatile oils (limonene, terpineol [monoterpenes], d-cadinene, caryophyllene, trans-b-farnesene, b-humulene [sesquiterpenes]); other constituents include lignin, resin, tannin.
Overview: Skullcap is a perennial found in North America, Asia, and Europe. Scutellaria lateriflora is the species indigenous to North America and is believed to have sedative, antispasmodic, anticonvulsant, and anti-inflammatory properties. In folk medicine it has been used to treat epilepsy, chorea (movement disorders), hysteria, nervousness, and grand mal seizures. The Chinese species, S. baicalensis, has slightly different properties and is used as a remedy for inflammation, dermatitis, allergic diseases, hyperlipidemia, vascular disorders, and heart health maintenance. Skullcap tea is also known to have antioxidant and antibacterial activity and inhibits lipid peroxidation in the liver. Flavonoids are the main active ingredient in skullcap, based on the small number of studies to date. A 2013 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial using skullcap for anxiety and mood enhancement found that 350 mg three times daily for 2 weeks resulted in significant improvements to anxiety and mood scores without causing fatigue in the daytime.
Traditional Use/Benefits/Body Systems: Nervous system; as a sedative for insomnia; to relieve anxiety and nervousness; antispasmodic to help relieve menstrual pain and cramps.
Clinical Studies/Scientific Research/References:
Hoffmann D. 2003. Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester (VT): Healing Arts Press.
Ellingwood F. 1983. American Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy. Sandy (OR): Eclectic Medical Publications [Reprint of 1919 original].
Brock C, Whitehouse J, Tewfik I, Towell T. American skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora): A randomised, double-blind placebo-controlled crossover study of its effects on mood in healthy volunteers. Phytother Res. July 22, 2013.
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