American Skullcap – (Scutellaria lateriflora)

American Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) is native to North America and can be found growing wild in many areas.  Its use in natural medicine has been well documented.  It is used mainly to support the nervous system.  It has been used alone and in combination with other herbs, such as Borage flower, as a mood enhancer.  It is considered by many as a side-effect free alternative to a class of medication called benzodiazepines.  It is also used to reduce anxiety and other mild conditions associated with nervousness.


American Skullcap is also known as Blue Skullcap, Mad-dog Weed, and Virginian Skullcap.  The scientific name originates from Latin.  Scutella means small dish. and Lateriflora means flowering on the side.  The common name skullcap comes from the shape of the flowers, which look like little skulls.  As noted, it can be found growing wild in North America, but is more commonly found cultivated in many areas of the world.  Historically, the use of American Skullcap dates back more than 200 years.  The above ground parts of the plant are used for natural medicine preparations.  It has both internal and external benefits.

The plant is used to treat symptoms and conditions associated mostly with the nervous system.  Some of these are mild anxiety, tremors, mild depression, nervous tension, and convulsions.  It is also being studied for use in more serious conditions of the nervous system such as Parkinson’s disease.  It is also useful as a mild sedative for its ability to calm and relax people.  American Skullcap isa rich in several flavonoids (scutellarein, isoscutellarein, wogonin, and baicalin) which are considered necessary for a healthy nervous system.

Topically, American Skullcap is used to treat snakebites, rashes and insect bites.  It promotes urinary function, has anti-tumor properties, treats hepatitis, and is used to reduce swelling.  It is also used for stress-related arthritis due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

American Skullcap can be administered internally through a tea or a tincture.  It is recommended that anyone using this herb should consume extra water during that time.

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