Skullcap Herb

0 0
Read Time:9 Minute, 27 Second

Skullcap is used for many conditions, but so far, there isn’t enough scientific evidence to determine whether or not it is effective for any of them.

Skullcap is used for trouble sleeping (insomnia), anxiety, stroke, and paralysis caused by stroke. It is also used for fever, high cholesterol, “hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis), rabies, epilepsy, nervous tension, allergies, skin infections, inflammation, and spasms.

Skullcap products are not always what the labels claim. The plants germander and teucrium are often unwanted and unlabeled ingredients in skullcap products. Secondly, you may think you are buying Scuttelaria lateriflora, the species of skullcap that has been studied for medicinal use, but the product may contain a different species of skullcap instead. The most often substituted species are Western Skullcap (Scuttelaria canescens), Southern Skullcap (Scutellaria cordifolia), or Marsh Skullcap (Scutellaria galericulatum). These species contain different chemicals, so they are not considered interchangeably

With a ghoulish name like skullcap, an herb could easily get a bad reputation. Fortunately, this plant’s popularity as an herbal medicine has grown over the last few centuries. In a time when an increasing number of health conditions are being associated with tension and stress, skullcap’s nerve-calming powers couldn’t be timelier. That’s why you can find it in our Stress Ease® Cinnamon tea, where we blend it with cinnamon bark and licorice root for a fast-acting, unwinding and grounding experience.

Skullcap hails from the mint family, Lamiaceae, which is easy to identify by the characteristic square stems and the jagged edges of its leaves. This perennial thrives in moist, shady riparian habitats, from forests and thickets to meadows and marshes and is a native plant of North America. Scutellaria lateriflora, the native species we use, grows up to three feet tall and is adorned with dainty blue flowers formed by two tongue-like petals. Together, the petals were said to resemble the helmets of medieval European soldiers, hence its common name: skullcap. Farmers and collectors harvest the plants while they are flowering—the peak of their herbal power—then cut and dry the leaves and stems to use as herbal medicine.

While skullcap grew wild throughout Europe prior to the colonization of the Americas, the North American species was the first to make a significant mark on herbal medicine. European settlers and folk herbalists learned how to use skullcap from Native American tribes, who had traditionally consumed it as a tea to soothe the nerves. Herbal physicians then brought it back to Great Britain in the 19th century, introducing more people to its relaxing benefits. Today, herbalists use it for many reasons, but primarily to relieve tension, nervousness, and irritability associated with stress.*

Over the last 15 years, trade-related books and journals have charted the steady growth of Scutellaria lateriflora in herbal wellness products, proving that skullcap’s use as a stress tonic is more relevant now than ever. In fact, our in-house herbalists swear by it! While other relaxing herbs like valerian and chamomile tend to make people sleepy, skullcap has the uncanny ability to soothe the nerves without slowing you down. Whether you are hoping to alleviate some of your stress before walking into an important meeting, or looking to take the edge off a bad day, we encourage you to tap into its ancient herbal wisdom to usher some quiet into the daily hustle and bustle of our modern age.

A member of the Lamiaceae family, this plant has a long history of use in western botanical medicine. It is used to support exhausted nerves resulting from mental and physical exhaustion, maintain normal balance in times of muscular tension, and to support normal sleep patterns. It is trophorestorative to the nervous system meaning it restores nutrition uptake to the nerves. Like most herbs in the mint family, it is cooling yet has bitter principles and other complex chemicals making it a balanced choice as a gentle nervine.

Skullcap: Benefits, Side Effects, and Dosage

If you buy something through a link on this page, we may earn a small commission. How this works.

Skullcap (sometimes spelled skullcap) is the common name for Scutellaria, a genus of flowering plants in the mint family.

The name is derived from the Latin word scutella, which means “little dish,” as the small flowers of these plants have a dish- or helmet-like shape. Skullcap is not to be confused with death caps, which are a highly poisonous mushroom (1Trusted Source).

Various parts of skullcaps, such as their roots and leaves, have been used in traditional Chinese and Native American medicine to treat a variety of ailments, ranging from diarrhea to chronic pain.

Today, this plant is widely available in supplement form and purported to provide an array of health benefits, from boosting heart health to relieving anxiety.

This article tells you everything you need to know about skullcap, including its uses, potential health benefits, and side effects.

What is skullcap and how is it used?

The name skullcap refers to any plant in the Scutellaria family, though American and Chinese varieties are most commonly used in natural medicine.

American skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) is a perennial herb native to North America. In bloom, the plant is covered in tiny, tubular blue flowers, although color can vary

The leaves of American skullcap have been used in traditional herbal medicine as a sedative and to treat conditions like anxiety and convulsions. The plant was prized by Native Americans for its powerful medicinal properties (3Trusted Source).

Chinese skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis) is native to several Asian countries, as well as Russia.

The dried roots of this plant have been used for centuries as a traditional Chinese medicine known as Huang Qin to treat diarrhea, insomnia, dysentery, high blood pressure, hemorrhaging, respiratory infections, and inflammation (1Trusted Source).

In Asia, Huang Qin is used in herbal remedies, such as Xian Chai Hu Tang or S ho-sailor-to (SST), a popular formulation used to treat conditions like fevers, gastrointestinal issues, and liver disease (1Trusted Source).

Both American and Chinese skullcap are available as supplements that can be purchased online or in health food stores. Other varieties, such as Scutellaria barbata, are also used in alternative medicine and have been studied for their potential health benefits.

Skullcap is sold in capsules, powders, and liquid extracts. Dried parts of the plant, such as its leaves, are likewise used to brew tea.

Potential benefits of skullcap

Supplementing with skullcap may provide several benefits, though research in most of these areas is limited.

May boost mood and reduce anxiety

American skullcap has been shown to boost mood and reduce symptoms of anxiety.

A study in 43 people found that those who received 1,050 mg of American skullcap daily for 2 weeks reported significant enhancements in mood compared to a placebo group (4Trusted Source).

It’s thought that American skullcap positively impacts mood and reduces anxiety by stimulating gamma-amicability acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that helps calm nerves (5Trusted Source).

Notably, this plant was used in traditional medicine practices as a sedative and treatment for conditions like insomnia and anxiety.

In fact, many anti-anxiety medications work similarly by enhancing GABA activity (6Trusted Source).

Has antibacterial and antiviral effects

Scutellaria (S.) barbata — also known as bar bat skullcap — is another species with medicinal properties. Studies indicate that it has powerful antiviral and antibacterial effects.

One test-tube study sampled over 30 Chinese herbs and found that only S. barbata extract demonstrated 100% antibacterial activity against Acinetobacter baumannii (X DRAB), a bacterium that is a leading cause of pneumonia in hospitalized patients (7Trusted Source).

Furthermore, this extract showed better antibacterial effects than colistin, a common antibiotic.

The same study demonstrated that S. barbata was also effective in reducing X DRAB bacterial load in the lungs of mice, compared to a control group(7Trusted Source).

What’s more, Chinese skullcap is purported to have antibacterial effects and is a component of an herbal mixture called Candbactin, a popular natural remedy used to treat intestinal bacterial overgrowth (8Trusted Source).

Contains anti-inflammatory and anticancer compounds

Both American and Chinese skullcap contain an array of beneficial plant compounds, including antioxidants, which have anti-inflammatory effects and protect your cells from damage caused by molecules called free radicals.

Oxidative stress, which results from an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants, is linked to a number of chronic conditions, such as certain cancers and heart disease (9Trusted Source).

Notably, baicalin, a flavonoid antioxidant in both American and Chinese skullcap, has demonstrated powerful anticancer effects and may help combat oxidative stress.

For example, in test-tube studies, baicalin induced cell death in prostate and cervical cancer cells while significantly inhibiting the growth of ovarian and pancreatic cancer cells (10Trusted Source).

Scutellarein is another American skullcap compound that exhibits potent anticancer potential in test-tube studies (11Trusted Source).

Additionally, animal studies reveal that wogonin, a flavonoid compound in Chinese and American skullcap, is particularly effective in treating inflammatory allergic conditions like allergic rhinitis (12Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source).

It’s worth noting that Chinese and American skullcap contain many other anti-inflammatory compounds. In fact, over 50 flavonoids have been isolated from the Chinese species alone (12Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source).

Other potential benefits

Skullcap has been linked to several other benefits, including:

  • Anticonvulsant effects. Orally supplementing with American skullcap has been shown to have anticonvulsant effects in rodents (15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source).
  • Insomnia. Baicalin, a compound found in both American and Chinese skullcap, is used to treat insomnia in traditional medicine practices. However, research is lacking (17Trusted Source).
  • Neurodegenerative disease. Some test-tube studies suggest that American skullcap may have neuroprotective properties, potentially safeguarding against diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s (18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source).
  • Heart health. In one animal study, baicalin injections significantly reduced damage associated with an induced heart attack (20Trusted Source).

Although these effects are promising, more research is needed to determine whether skullcap is an effective treatment for these conditions.

Skullcap precautions

Although supplementing with skullcap may provide health benefits, it may not be appropriate for everyone and may cause serious side effects in certain cases.

For example, American and Chinese skullcap is associated with liver damage and even liver failure in some people. That said, these cases mostly involved supplements containing multiple herbs, not just skullcap

Even so, people with conditions that impact liver function should avoid this plant altogether.

Chinese skullcap has also been associated with lung complications, and other types — including the American variety — may cause side effects like irregular heartbeat, tics, anxiety, drowsiness, and mental confusion in some people (22Trusted Source,

It should be noted that skullcap can interact with many common medications, such as blood thinners, cholesterol-lowering medications, cytochrome P450 substrate drugs, and pain killers

Additionally, no type of skullcap is recommended for children or pregnant or breastfeeding women due to insufficient safety information

Furthermore, some supplements have been shown to contain adulterants. Others may harbor ingredients not listed on the label

As with any supplement, use caution when purchasing skullcap. Rely on trusted companies that are certified by a third party or independent laboratory.

While different forms have been used since ancient times to treat a variety of ailments, human studies on its safety and effectiveness are lacking. Always consult your healthcare practitioner before taking any herbal supplement, including skullcap.

Happy
Happy
0 %
Sad
Sad
0 %
Excited
Excited
0 %
Sleepy
Sleepy
0 %
Angry
Angry
0 %
Surprise
Surprise
0 %

Average Rating

5 Star
0%
4 Star
0%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.