Skullcap Scutellaria lateriflora

Scutellaria lateriflora
'Mad Dog' skullcap flowers
  • Common Names
  • Skullcap , Virginian skull cap, mad-dog skull cap, scullcap
  • Botanical Name
  • Scutellaria lateriflora
  • Family

Medicinal Uses & Benefits of Skullcap

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How to Use: Skullcap

The chemistry of skullcap varies considerably between species, those who contain the compound scutellarin are the ones used in herbal medicine. The plant has been used for centuries by herbalists as an effective nerve tonic and sedative. Its common uses include relief of nervous tension, anxiety and nerve pain. Women who are having anxiety associated with hormonal imbalances can find skullcap very calming. Skullcap may also help calm the nerves of those wishing to stop smoking.89

Preparation Methods & Dosage :Skullcap is most often taken as a tea or tincture, but is also found in capsule form. Tinctures made from the fresh herb are the optimal choice. Teas should be drunk hot.

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Skullcap Remedies

Traditional Chinese Medicine traditional Chinese medicine

The root of a related species, Baikal skullcap(S.baicalensis) is used in traditional Chinese medicine to relieve colds, fever, high blood pressure and insomnia among other problems.

Traditional Chinese medicine teaches that skullcap is most useful for draining fire from the upper burner, for patterns of symptoms including high fever, irritability, thick mucus, or hot sores and swelling. The herb is used to dry dampness from the stomach or intestines, treating any kind of digestive upset that stifles the urge to drink fluids or causes inflammation of the urinary tract. Skullcap also treats the symptoms of emotional excess rising in the body to cause blushing, flushing, irritability, or headache.2

Skullcap Side Effects: Avoid if pregnant. Safe in normal amounts, overdose can cause confusion and giddiness, possible seizures. Select a high-quality, reputable product with an assurance that it contains only Scutellaria. In the past, real skullcap was adulterated with Teucrium canadense, or pink skullcap.

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Plant Description

  • Flowers:Blue, varying to whitish; several or many, 1 in. long, growing in axils of upper leaves or in 1 - sided spike-like racemes. Calyx 2-lipped, the upper lip with a helmet-like protuberance; corolla 2-lipped; the lower, 3-lobed lip spreading; the middle lobe larger than the side ones. Stamens, 4, in pairs, under the upper lip; upper pair the shorter; 1 pistil, the style unequally cleft in two.
  • Stem:Square, smooth, leafy, branched, 8 in. to 2 ft. high.
  • Leaves:Opposite, oblong to lance-shaped, thin, toothed, on slender pedicles, 1 to 3 in. long, growing gradually smaller toward top of stem.
  • Fruit: 4 nutlets.
  • Preferred Habitat:Wet, shady ground.
  • Flowering Season:July - September
  • Distribution:Uneven throughout United States and the British Possessions.

By the helmet-like appendage on the upper lip of the calyx, which to the imaginative mind of Linnaeus suggested Scutellum (a little dish), which children delight to spring open for a view of the four tiny seeds attached at the base when in fruit, one knows this to be a member of the skullcap tribe, a widely scattered genus of blue and violet two-lipped flowers.

Netje Blanchan Wild Flowers worth Knowing(1917)

Regional Traditions :North America * Traditional Chinese Medicine *

Related Species Chinese skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis)

books citedWorks Cited
  1. 89. White Linda B., M.D. "The Herbal Drugstore" (2003)
  2. Mountain Rose Herbs