Botanical Name: Scuttelaria lateriflora
Plant Family: Labiatae (the mint family)
Plant part used medicinally: Aerial parts
Traditional Uses: Western herbal treatment for epilepsy, nerve pain, delirium tremens, insomnia, anxiety, depression restless leg syndrome. Historically was called “Mad Dog weed” due to its reputation for treating epilepsy caused by rabies. Used by Native Americans as a sedative and anticonvulsant. According to renowned herbalist Matthew Wood “skullcap soothes and quiets irritability of the nervous system”.
Important chemical components: GABA, flavonoid compounds baicalin and baicalein
Cautions/side effects: additive effects with other sedating medications, no known issues but recommend to avoid during pregnancy due to lack of safety studies
Research demonstrates skullcap has anxiety and anti-seizure effects, and has components that bind the same receptors as benzodiazepine.
Studies on skullcap extract showed:
- lower anxiety in animal behavior trials
- enhanced global mood without a reduction in energy or cognition in healthy people
- noteworthy anxiety reduction in a double blind, placebo-controlled study of healthy subjects
- anticonvulsant activity in rodent models of acute seizures
Awad R et al. Phytochemical and biological analysis of skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora L.): a medicinal plant with anxiolytic properties. Phytomedicine. 2003 Nov;10(8):640-9
Brock C et al. American Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora): a randomised, double-blind placebo-controlled crossover study of its effects on mood in healthy volunteers. Phytother Res. 2014 May;28(5):692-8
Wolfson P, Hoffmann DL. An investigation into the efficacy of Scutellaria lateriflora in healthy volunteers. Altern Ther Health Med. 2003 Mar-Apr;9(2):74-8
Zhang Z et al. Characterization of chemical ingredients and anticonvulsant activity of American skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora). Phytomedicine. 2009 May;16(5):485-93