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Herb Spotlight - Skullcap

Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)

Family: Lamiaceae

Part Used: Leaf, Flower

Flavor/Aroma: Sweet, Bitter

Energetics: Cooling, Neutral

 

Overview:

With over 300 species spanning the globe, this highly therapeutic botanical has been utilized by numerous civilizations for its array of healing abilities. It has been used to calm the nervous system, used for relieving circular thoughts and as a digestive bitter to support a healthy metabolism. Skullcap is a versatile herbal medicine with a collection of both historical and modern day uses.

Botany:

Skullcap thrives in a rockier, wetter habitat and can reach heights of two feet tall in ideal conditions. It grows with a square stem, much like others in the mint family, and has slightly serrated edged leaves. The blueish-purple flowers express in the peak of the summer heat, and are delicate and fragrant.1

Cultivation and Harvesting:

Skullcap grows as a perennial herb native to North America and Canada, and is cultivated widely throughout Europe. The aerial parts are best harvested with care as the flowers begin to fully express on mature plants in the spring, or if collecting the leaves it is best harvested during the autumn months.

Southern Oregon Cultivation:

Skullcap thrives amongst the riverbanks and rocky mountain sides of the Rogue Valley and throughout Oregon, typically between 300 and 8,000 feet in elevation. It makes a great addition to gardens, providing local pollinators with an abundance of seasonal treats.

History and Folklore:

American Native Uses: Many tribes used Skullcap to remedy rabies from mad dog bites, it thus adopted its nickname “Mad-Dog Weed”, although this application remains somewhat of a controversy. The Mesquakie tribes used Skullcap to treat diarrhea, the Cherokee used it to stimulate a delayed menstrual cycle, to relieve breast pain, soothe nervous tension of all sorts, and to aid in childbirth.2

Skullcap was amongst the herbs found listed on wooden tablets discovered in 1973, in 2nd century tombs in China.

Traditional Chinese Medicine: Skullcap species, such as Baical Skullcap, were utilized for its strong anti inflammatory capabilities due to its high levels of flavonoids. It was also used for depleted capillaries and venous integrity. It was indicated for conditions of excessive mental chatter and inability to quiet the mind.1,2    

Modern Applications:

Skullcap is indicated to support a variety of hotter conditions such as systemic inflammation, phlegmy coughs, hysteria, and anxious patterns.4 There is research to support beneficial outcomes when used in cases of high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, insomnia, and muscular tremors. Skullcap is given in cases of painful urinary infections and atopic conditions such as allergies, eczema, and acne, and is indicated for those with a weakened nervous system. The active constituent, Baicalein, is the main culprit behind some of Skullcap’s topical applications indicated for the anti-inflammatory and anti-aging therapeutic effects.3,6

Uses and Preparations:

Dried Herb Tea Preparation: 

1 Tablespoon of herb per cup of warm water.

Using a reusable tea bag or tea ball, immerse the loose dried herbs into boiling water and allow to steep for 5-10 minutes, preferably covered, in order to release the maximum amount of herbal goodness. Some herbal tea can carry a strong flavor. We recommend organic honey as a sweetener which preserves the beneficial herbal compounds. 

Tincture: 

1-3 mL up to 4 times daily.

Some herbal tinctures can have a strong flavor on their own. Adding your tincture to a glass of 6-8oz of water is one easy way to help, should you wish to dilute the flavor.  

Recommended Usage:

It is important to remember that some bodies may react differently than others when using herbal products. Our recommended usage amounts are designed to be an average dosage only. If you have specific concerns about the usage amount or interaction with other medication, please consult with your doctor or health care practitioner prior to using our products.

Precautions:

We recommend consulting with your practitioner if you are pregnant, or plan to become pregnant, or if you are using any other medications.

References:

  1. Skullcap. (n.d.). https://www.henriettes-herb.com/eclectic/kings/scutellaria.html
  2. Skullcap (n.d.). https://www.cloverleaffarmherbs.com/skullcap/ 
  3. Skullcap. (n.d.). http://cms.herbalgram.org/herbalgram/issue83/article3434.html 
  4. Brock, C., Whitehouse, J., Tewfik, I., & Towell, T. (2014, May). American Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora): a randomised, double-blind placebo-controlled crossover study of its effects on mood in healthy volunteers. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23878109 
  5. Shin, H. S., Bae, M.-J., Choi, D. W., & Shon, D.-H. (2014, February 21). Skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis) extract and its active compound, wogonin, inhibit ovalbumin-induced Th2-mediated response. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24566319 
  6. Huang, Lee, et. al., (2006). Antioxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Activities of Polyhydroxy Flavonoids of Scutellaria Baicalensis, GEORGI, Biosci. Biotech. Biochem., 70(10): 2371-80. https://www.dermascope.com/scope-this/skullcap-extract-in-skin-care#.Vs8_H_krK00  

For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.