Nurture Integrative Health

“Heartleaf skullcap is a beautiful addition to your garden,” Phyllis Elmore-Victoria County Master Gardener

Skullcap or Scutelarria is a great ally for the nervous system. There are many species of Skullcap, Scutellaria Lateriflora, American Skullcap, used in Western Herbalism, and Scutellaria Baicalensis, Chinese Skullcap, used in Chinese Medicine. Both are commonly prescribed by Naturopaths. 

Scutellaria Lateriflora – A Supportive Ally for Over-all Health

American Skullcap flowers look like a bluebell. The plant, once believed useful in the treatment of rabies, is sometimes called ‘Mad Dog’ though there is no evidence to support this referred to as “Mad Dog” for its treatment of rabies. 

It is best for teething, insomnia, headache from nervousness, seizures, neuralgia, strokes, nervous stomach, uterine contractions, and paralysis. Scutellaria Lateriflora can be helpful support when withdrawing from alcohol or drug addictions. American Skullcap acts as a sedative, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, hypotensive, stomachic, and nervine. And found to help with anxiety because of its ability to increase GABA in the brain. It can also increase circulation to the cerebral cortex so has benefit in use for neurological disorders. 

Scutellaria Baicalensis – A Supportive Ally for Brain Health

Chinese Skullcap flowers look like medieval helmets, which is where the name “Skullcap” comes from. Found to be protective against Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, Chinese Skullcap will. A 2008 study on mice found oroxylin A, a constituent of Chinese skullcap, impacted memory impairment. It improved microglial activation, lipid peroxidation, improved neurotransmission, and acts as a strong antioxidant. These effects could be beneficial in several neurological disorders. It is additionally used to address prostate cancer, benign prostatic hyperplasia, insomnia, hepatitis, and anxiety or stress. (PMID: 18620712) 

Both American and Chinese Scutellaria combine well with other nervines including Motherwort—Leonurus Cardiaca, Lemon Balm—Melissa Officinalis, Valerian—Valeriana Officinalis, Common Hops—Humulus Lupulus, and Passion Flower—Passiflora. Skullcap is another on a long list of healing allies that can soothe stress that leads to increases in anxiety or insomnia. 

Use caution: 

  • if you are taking blood thinners because it works similarly and could increase the chances of bruising or bleeding. 

  • if you are taking Statins because it lowers their effectiveness. 

You should always consult your physician before starting botanical medicine to meet your individual needs.

Use of Scutellaria in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Scutellaria Baicalensis or Huang Qin helps to clear heat and drain fire in Chinese medicine. It clears heat and dries dampness. It sedates ascendant liver yang or liver fire. When a deficiency of yin exists in the liver it can lead to a variety of symptoms including anger, agitation, bitter taste in the mouth, headache especially in temples, high blood pressure, muscle tension in the shoulders and neck, insomnia, constipation, and dream-disturbed sleep. Chinese Skullcap is also used to address cancer, arthritis, and hepatitis. 

Stress is the most frequent cause of liver fire, but alcoholism and chronic liver imbalances should be well. The tongue is often an indicator of this Chinese medicine pathology. The tongue will appear red on the sides with a yellowish coating that’s dry. But the tongue may also appear normal. Foods that may help this condition include seaweed, spinach, asparagus, eggs, aloe leaf, burdock root, dandelion greens, celery, lemon, peppermint, tomato, and zucchini.

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