User Tools

Site Tools

Scutellaria lateriflora - Skullcap

see Scutellaria lateriflora

Scutellaria laterifolia

Scutellaria laterifolia

Scutellaria lateriflora

Scutellaria lateriflora

Botanical Name: Scutellaria lateriflora, Lamiaceae

Common names: Skullcap, Scullcap, Blue Pimpernel, Madweed, Hoodwort, Mad-dog

Similar species: S. galericulata

Plant description: Skullcap is a herbaceous perennial with a four-angled, smooth stem with many branches, attaining a height of between 30 cm to 160 cm when mature. Skullcap has small hairless leaves, borne on petioles about 5-8 cm long, the leaves themselves about 2.5-5 cm long by 1-1.5 cm wide, ovate, with a rounded base, an acute tip, the leaf margin acutely serrate. The flowers are borne in axillary racemes that arise from the leaf axils, flowers on only one side. They are pale blue, blossoming in summer, comprised of a fused upper and lower sepal, the upper sepal with a raised appendage that looks like a helmet or hood. The petals are fused into a two-lipped corolla, with four stamens. The flower gives way to four small nutlets.

Habitat, ecology and distribution: The various species of Scutellaria have a wide distribution through the milder temperate regions of North America, Europe and Siberia. S. lateriflora and the rather similar Marsh Skullcap (S. galericulata) tend to prefer wet habitats and rich soils, in meadows, marshes, stream banks, lakeshores, wet ditches and grassy clearings. Much of the Skullcap on the market is commercially grown.

Part used: Aerial parts.

History: The name for this genus name is derived from the Latin scutella, meaning ‘a little dish,’ suggested by the shape of the calyx. The common name of ‘Skullcap’ describes its usage as a treatment for disorders of the central nervous system, suggested by the shape of the flowers when looking down upon them from above, which looks somewhat like a skull.

Constituents: There is little constituent information for Skullcap herb and many sources appear to include constituent information for the root of the Chinese S. baicalensis, which is a decidedly different medicinal herb. Among what could be considered as important constituents in S. lateriflora are the flavonoids apigenin, hispidulin, luteolin, and scutellarein, as well as the bitter glycoside scutellarin. Skullcap also contains an essential oil, lignin, resin, tannin, some miscellaneous alkanes, minerals such as calcium, potassium and zinc, as well as a wax (Newall et al 1996, 239; Duke 1992; Bergner 1997, 245).

Medical Research: None.

Toxicity: There is no actual toxicity stated for Skullcap, but herbalists have long recognized that in very large doses the herb can produce sensory disturbances such as peripheral numbness and tingling, as well as confusion, giddiness and a temporary loss of consciousness. Skullcap is frequently adulterated or substituted at source with other species of the Lamiaceae, including the hepatotoxic Germander (Teucrium) (Newall et al 1996, 239). The degree to which this affects the marketplace is not well known, but many herbalists feel that adulteration is very common, and care should be taken when purchasing this herb commercially.

Herbal action: nervine relaxant, nervine trophorestorative, antispasmodic, nutritive

Indications: exhaustion, spasm, convulsion, nervous irritability, neuralgia, muscle spasm, anxiety, nervousness, addiction withdrawal

Contraindications and cautions: Skullcap may interact with or even potentiate the activity of pharmaceutical preparations that act on the central nervous system, including tranquilizers, antipsychotics and antiepileptics.

Medicinal uses: It appears that Skullcap continues to be a much “neglected herb,” just as it was once considered by William Cook (1869). Although little or nothing of its virtues are recognized in science and medical research, it continues to be a popular mainstay for many herbalists. Skullcap is an important nervine trophorestorative, with generally relaxing or sedating properties, but in a few individuals can promote mental exhilaration. In most cases however, and in suitable doses, Skullcap acts as an agent to relax the nervous system. Cook considered Skullcap specific to “…restless and wakeful conditions, with feebleness…and…all forms of nervousness with fatigue or depression” (1869). This traditional indication for Skullcap seems particularly germane in our modern society of over stimulation and lack of rest, but unlike other relaxing agents, Skullcap generally promotes sedation without any “…shade of narcotism” (Cook, 1869). To this end Skullcap is often used along with more sedating botanicals such as Valeriana and Escscholzia to ameliorate the potential of these herbs to leave a kind of mental fogginess upon awakening. Skullcap is also an important botanical used in the treatment of addiction and withdrawal, used in high doses with Avena and Passiflora in physiological opioid addiction, and with Lobelia to satiate nicotine cravings. The amount of Skullcap used in such cases should err on the high end of the dosage range in order to be effective, often until some of its sensory effects, such as minor visual distortions and peripheral numbness begin to be displayed. If the situation is more a case of psychological addiction, smaller doses should prove to be more effective. Skullcap is also highly valued in neuralgia and visceral pain, used in cardiac weakness and irregularity, when these symptoms are “…due to feebleness with agitation, but not connected with acute or sub-acute inflammatory excitement” (Cook 1869). It is often used in formulation with diffusive remedies such as Lobelia and Actaea in muscle spasm and seizures, and with Caulophyllum in dysmenorrhea. Skullcap can be thought of as being a ‘cooling’ remedy, reducing the passions and fires that drive the body towards states of anger and irritability, but acts through nervous function only and does not influence other inflammatory mediators such as eicosanoids. Thus for chronic inflammation Skullcap should be considered as only an adjunct to more sophisticated approaches. It is mentioned as an important remedy in the prevention and treatment of delirium tremens (Felter and Lloyd 1893), and when combined with Lycopus may be beneficial in Grave’s disease. In digestive disorders Skullcap exerts a mild tonic property, favouring the normalization of autonomic balance through its nervine properties. In teething children Skullcap may be effective to reduce nervous irritability and pain, administered to the mother or directly as an infusion-soaked cloth or dilute tincture. Felter and Lloyd state that the warm infusion has a mild diaphoretic property, whereas the cold infusion exerts its activity as a digestive tonic (1893). In pulse diagnosis the character of Skullcap is noted by an irregular pulsation. Most herbalists prefer the fresh plant extract, or at the very least a dry maceration of the recently dried plant material. Skullcap loses its properties upon boiling.

Pharmacy and dosage:

• Fresh Plant Tincture: fresh aerial parts, 1:2. 95% alcohol, 3-20 gtt, 2.5-15 mL • Dry Plant Tincture: recently dried herb, 1:4, 40% alcohol, 3-20 gtt, 2.5-15 mL • Hot Infusion: recently dried herb, 1:20, 50-300 mL • Powder: recently dried herb, 500-3000 mg

Fair Use Source:

SCULLCAP (Skullcap / Scutellaria laterifolia)

Latin: Scutellaria laterifolia

WHAT IT DOES: Scullcap is bitter in taste and cooling in action. It calms the nerves.

RATING: Silver, as not everyone needs to be calmed

SAFETY ISSUES: None known with actual plant. Misidentification with another plant, germander, has been an issue. (

STARTING DOSAGE: • Tincture: 20-40 drops, two to six times per day Note: use only in tincture form

Scullcap tincture is an excellent and extremely reliable nervine. It relaxes and strengthens the nervous system in a manner that can be felt within thirty minutes. It is reliable and safe for treating premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms as they occur. The highly respected English herbalist David Hoffman ( tells the story of how he found scullcap the best remedy for PMS when he lived on a commune as the only male with dozens of women. It is strong enough that it will calm anxiety in fairly serious situations, such as alcohol or drug withdrawal and hysteria. In these cases it needs to be taken every two to three hours, increasing the dosage until you see results. Based upon a recommendation from herbalist David Winston (, I gave scullcap tincture to a patient with Parkinson's disease, and she experienced a moderate reduction of tremors, improving her quality of life. According to King's American Dispensatory (, Scullcap “is tonic, nervine and anti-spasmodic,” and “it has proved especially useful in chorea, convulsions, tremors, intermittent fever, neuralgia, and many nervous affections. In all cases of nervous excitability, restlessness, or wakefulness, attending or following acute or chronic disease, from physical or mental overwork, or from other causes, it may be drunk freely with every expectation of beneficial results. When its soothing effects have ceased, it does not leave an excitable, irritable condition of the system, as is the case with some other nervines” (Felter and Lloyd, 1898).

Dried scullcap, commonly found in over-the-counter herbal preparations, is basically inert, and therefore useless. The related Chinese herb scute root is more anti-inflammatory and less calming in action.

Fair Use Source:

**//Scutellaria lateriflora**//, also known as **Blue Skullcap**, **Hoodwort**, **Virginian Skullcap**, **Mad-dog Skullcap**<ref>//mad dog, n. - compounds// Oxford English Dictionary - mad dog because it was a supposed cure for hydrophobia,</ref> is a hardy perennial herb native to North America. It is a member of the mint family. It has an upright habit, growing 60 to 80 centimeters in maximum height. <ref name=jeps>Jepson Manual Treatment</ref><ref name=burke>Washington Burke Museum</ref> It is a wetland-loving species and grows near marshes, meadows, and other wet habitat. The blue flowers are just under a centimeter long.<ref name=jeps/><ref name=burke/> Most of the flowers do not appear at the top of the main stem, but are produced along the length of side branches that grow from the leaf axils.

Medicinal uses

//Scutellaria lateriflora// is used in herbal medicine as a mild sedative and sleep promoter. //Scutellaria// as a genus has numerous medicinal uses and various species of skullcap are used in similar ways. The traditional uses of Blue Skullcap should not be confused with those of other Skullcaps as there are over 350 different species of Skullcap and they are not all used in the same way. Blue Skullcap is used like Common Skullcap (//S. galericulata//), Western Skullcap (//S. canescens//), and Southern Skullcap (//S. cordifolia//), all of which are genetically similar.<ref>P. Wolfson, MD, and D.L. Hoffmann, FNIMH, Alternative therapies, mar/apr 2003, VOL. 9, NO. 2 75.</ref> Blue Skullcap and Common Skullcap are mainly known for their traditional use as an incense and tea.

Scutellaria lateriflora has been found in a double blind, placebo-controlled study to have anxiety-reducing effects in 19 volunteers.<ref></ref>

More than 295 compounds have been isolated in Scutellaria, among them flavonoids and diterpenes. Studies show that Scutellaria and its active principles possess wide pharmacological actions, such as antitumor, anti-angiogenesis, hepatoprotective, antioxidant, anticonvulsant, antibacterial and antiviral activities.

<ref>Secondary metabolite mapping identifies Scutellaria inhibitors of human lung cancer cells. Gao J. Zhao H. Hylands PJ. Corcoran O. Journal of Pharmaceutical & Biomedical Analysis. 53(3):723-8, 2010 Nov 2. UI: 20457505</ref>

Beta-elemene found in the herb has anti-cancer properties.<ref>

[[Antineoplastic effect of beta-elemene on prostate cancer cells and other types of solid tumour cells. Li QQ. Wang G. Huang F. Banda M. Reed E. Journal of Pharmacy & Pharmacology. 62(8):1018-27, 2010 Aug. Article. Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural. Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't UI: 20663036</ref>

In vitro, the herb showed significant cytotoxic activities against three human cancer cell lines.<ref>Two new cytotoxic ent-clerodane diterpenoids from Scutellaria barbata. Qu GW. Yue XD. Li GS. Yu QY. Dai SJ. Journal of Asian Natural Products Research. 12(10):859-64, 2010 Oct. Article. Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't UI: 20924899</ref> Scutellaria baicalensis root is widely used in China as an adjuvant to orthodox chemotherapy of lung cancer.<ref> Secondary metabolite mapping identifies Scutellaria inhibitors of human lung cancer cells. Gao J. Zhao H. Hylands PJ. Corcoran O. Journal of Pharmaceutical & Biomedical Analysis. 53(3):723-8, 2010 Nov 2. alpha-cubebene</th><th>42</th></tr> <tr><th>alpha-humulene</th><th>42</th></tr> <tr><th>beta-elemene</th><th>92</th></tr> <tr><th>calamenene</th><th>152</th></tr> <tr><th>delta-cadinene</th><th>270</th></tr> </table>

<table class=“wikitable”> <caption>**Other constituents**</caption> <tr><th>Chemical</th><th>Concentration (mg/g)</th></tr> <tr><th>carbohydrates</th><th>780</th></tr> <tr><th>acid</th><th>1</th></tr> <tr><th>baicalin</th><th>10<ref name=“HHB”>P.H. and Horhammer, L., Hager's Handbuch der Pharmazeutischen Praxis, Vols. 2-6, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 1969-1979.</ref></th></tr> <tr><th>scutellarin</th><th></th></tr> <tr><th>scutellarein</th><th></th></tr> <tr><th>tannin</th><th>28-35</th></tr> <tr><th>wax</th><th>12</th><tr> </table>

Scutellarin is transformed by hydrolysis into scutellarein.

The principal phenolics in the leaves, stems, and roots of some //Scutellaria// species are baicalin, baicalein and wogonin.<ref>Nishikawa, et al. Phenolics in tissue cultures of //Scutellaria//. //Natural Medicines// 53: 209-213,1999</ref> Baicalin is known to be anti-inflammatory and analgesic.<ref>Anesth Analg 2003;97:1724-1729 http</ref><ref name=“Agric”/> Another study identifies 5,6,7-trihydroxy-2'- methoxyflavone and its 7-0-glucuronide.<ref>Analysis of //Scutellaria lateriflora// and its adulterant //Teucrium canadense// by HPLC-UV and HPLC-UV/MS, Tom's of Maine, PO Box 710, Kennebunk, ME 04043. USA.</ref> A number of the flavones found in //S. lateriflora// have been reported to selectively bind with high affinity to central receptor sites, leading to the view that the flavones exert anxiolytic and other benzodiazepine effects in rats.<ref>Medina, et al. , Overview-Flavonoids: A new family of benzodiazapine receptor ligands. Neurochem Res. 199722 (4): 419.</ref>

Blue Skullcap contains chrysin glucuronide. This is found in many other plants, including wild carrot, the //Pelargonium// species (geraniums), the //Passiflora// or passion-flower species, which include tropical passionfruit; and in pine trees. Chrysin is sold as a nutritional supplement for male body builders because of its possible action in inhibiting the conversions of androgens to estrogens.<ref>Kellis JT Jr, Vickery LE. Inhibition of human estrogen synthetase (aromatase) by flavones. //Science//. 1984; 225:1032-1034.</ref>

The flavonoids are found throughout the plant but are more concentrated in the leaves, and the concentrations are found to decrease slightly as the plant matures. The dried leaf is reported to contain about 50 milligrams of flavonoid per gram. The flavonoids are readily extracted using hot water.<ref name=“Agric”>Comparison of the Chemical Composition of Extracts from //Scutellaria lateriflora// Using Accelerated Solvent Extraction and Supercritical Fluid Extraction versus Standard Hot Water or 70% Ethanol Extraction. //J. Agric. Food Chem.//, 53 (8), 3076 -3080, 2005</ref>

See also

 * [[Anxiety]]
 * [[wp>Anxiolytic]]
 * [[Herbalism]]
 * [[Sedative]]
 * [[wp>Special Herbs, Vols. 4, 5 & 6]]
 * [[wp>Special Herbs, Vols. 5 & 6]]
 * [[wp>Valerian(herb)]]


 * {{cite book | author=[[Neltje Blanchan Blanchan, Neltje]] | title=[[Wild Flowers Worth Knowing]] | year=[[2005]] | publisher=[[Project Gutenberg|Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation]]}}

 * [[|Connecticut Botanical Society: //Scutellaria lateriflora//]]
 * [[|Plants For A Future: //Scutellaria lateriflora//]]
 * [[|USDA Plants Profile: //Scutellaria lateriflora//]]
 * [[|Dr. Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases]]
 * [[|Skullcap herb info]]

Scutellaria Herbs Flora of the United States Medicinal plants

Scutellaria lateriflora فرنجمشک Scutellaria lateriflora

Fair Use Source: - This page was last modified on 17 July 2011 at 19:30.

scutellaria_lateriflora.txt · Last modified: 2018/02/26 18:13 (external edit)