Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)
Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) a member of the mint family, (Lamiaceae), is native to the moist woods of the eastern United States. It is a perennial herb that grows to 2′-3′ with bluish flowers appearing from July through September.1
History and Traditional Use
Traditionally the whole plant was collected in June, dried, powdered, and used in the treatment of convulsions, hysteria, nervous headaches and headaches caused by excessive coughing, nerve pain, rabies, and rickets (Vitamin D deficiency).2 Additionally, it has been used for epilepsy and nervous conditions causing involuntary muscular and facial twitching.2
Modern Medicinal Use
While skullcap does not have any current medical applications, recent studies suggest that it may be useful in a number of conditions and diseases. Skullcap has been effective in treating blood clots in the brain and paralysis caused by stroke.3 Other studies show that skullcap may be helpful in treating depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders.3
Modern Consumer Use
Skullcap is used in herbal sleep aids to promote restful sleep, often in combination with valerian. Patents have been filed in the United States for a skin lotion formula containing skullcap,4 a product for both treatment and prevention of prostate cancer,5 and for a cosmetic formula to diminish unwanted skin pigmentation.6
1 DerMarderosian A, Beutler JA. The Review of Natural Products, 3nd edition. St. Louis, MO: Facts and Comparisons; 2002.
2 Barnes J, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines. 2nd ed. London: Pharmaceutical Press; 2002.
3 Cauffield JS, Forbes HF. Dietary supplements used in the treatment of depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders. Lippincotts Prim Care Pract. 1999 May-June;3(3):290-304.
4 Meybeck A, inventor. LVMH Recherche. Method of skin care utilizing liposomes containing Scutellaria extracts. US patent 5 643 598. July 1, 1997.
5 Chen S, Wang X, inventors. International Medical Research, Inc. Herbal composition for treating prostate carcinoma. US patent 5 665 393. September 9, 1997.
6 Perrier E, Rival D, inventors. Bioetica, Inc.Compositions and methods for inhibiting the formation of unwanted skin pigmentation. US patent 5 773 014. June 30, 1998.