10 Health Benefits of Skullcap

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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The most important health benefits of skullcap include its ability to help prevent certain cancers, reduce anxiety, soothe the nervous system, treat diabetes, aid in weight loss, lower inflammation, balance hormones, and regulate sleep.

What is Skullcap?

Skullcap is the name of a flowering perennial plant from the mint family, Lamiaceae. With the scientific name Scutellaria lateriflora, this plant can be found in North America’s wet habitats. There are a few names for skullcap, including mad dog and blue skullcap. Both of them describe a hardy, moderate size plant with blue or purple flowers from the leaf bases on the main stem. While other species use the name skullcap and even have similar properties, the blue one is deemed best, as it has the widest range of uses and powerful chemical compounds.

The range of health benefits enjoyed by frequent users of skullcap is due to the presence of various phenolic compounds and flavones that impact the body in many different ways. The plant was traditionally used by native Americans for hundreds of years. The extracts of American skullcap are also valuable for certain health conditions.

Health Benefits of Skullcap

Let’s take a closer look at some of the impressive health benefits of this amazing herb.

Relieves Anxiety

Skullcap tea is a popular method to balance the hormones in your body, as it stimulates the release of endorphins and generally balances your mood. If you are feeling worked up for no reason, and constantly feel tense, then perhaps what you need is a simple cup of this tea. Phenolic compounds can have a wide range of effect on our hormonal balance, as they happen to be rich in antioxidant compounds. There are many herbs such as saw palmetto that can provide relief from stress and anxiety.

Close up of skullcap flower in a field

Reduces Pain

Skullcap possesses certain analgesic properties, meaning that consuming it can help to relieve pain throughout the body, partially through a reduction in inflammation. However, you can form a paste of the dried one and apply it directly to the areas that are experiencing pain. This can be a major boost for the healing of wounds or if you are recovering from an injury. Also, small scrapes and bruises can be healed more rapidly by applying it topically, as the rich phenolic compounds and flavones stimulate blood flow to the skin and help prevent infection.

Soothes Nervous System

If you suffer from a nervous disorder, you may have experienced seizures or other spasmodic side effects that result from a problem in your nervous system. Skullcap tea can soothe the nervous system and prevent these episodes. It has been traditionally used to reduce seizure frequency and severity in those patients. Adding skullcap to drinking water once a day has also been associated with this positive benefit.

Removes Toxins

If you are looking for a way to detoxify your body and boost your overall health, skullcap tea may be just the thing. Skullcap has been associated with increased antioxidant activity in the liver, which is one of the slowest-recovering organs, and this effect can significantly boost the efficiency of your liver. This reduces toxin levels in the body and blood, thereby improving overall health and wellness.

Manages Diabetes

Insulin and glucose regulation is essential and it appears that skullcap is able to increase the production of insulin by the pancreas and helps to regulate the insulin levels in the body. Furthermore, it has been linked to lower cholesterol levels, which is an exacerbating factor in diabetes.

Heart Health

By reducing the level of cholesterol in the heart, skullcap is able to lower the chances of atherosclerosis, heart attacks, coronary heart diseases, and strokes that often accompany the build-up of plaque in the arteries.

Weight Loss

Although research on this particular aspect of skullcap is still unclear, it appears that the reduction of triglycerides stimulated by this herb can help with rapid weight loss when combined with a proper diet. This research is ongoing but presents an option for those looking for new ways to lose weight.

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Anticancer Potential

According to the International Journal of Molecular Medicine, Chinese skullcap has been known to induce apoptosis (sudden cell death), in cancerous cells and is used for the treatment of cancer. This action is found to be caused by a compound called scutellarein in the herb.

Adrienne Scheck, Ph.D., a member of the American Association for Cancer Research, in his research on the effects of skullcap on the brain tumor cells, found that it helps to inhibit the cancer cell growth and is also a potential adjuvant treatment to current chemotherapeutic agents used in cancer treatment.

Antibacterial and Antiviral Effects

In China, skullcap is widely utilized for its medicinal properties for a long time, where the preparation from the roots is called Huang-Qin. According to a study in the Science Bulletin journal, it has been applied in the treatment of diarrhea, hypertension, dysentery, inflammation, and respiratory infections. There are certain flavones that are extracted from the root of S. baicalensis. These flavones are reported to have pharmacological properties, including cancer, hepatoprotection, antibacterial and antiviral, antioxidant, and neuroprotective effects.

Dosage

An American skullcap dosage should be limited to no more than the package recommendation. Typical doses (refer to individual product information): Dried herb: 1 to 2 g three times/day; Tea: 240 mL three times/day (pour 250 mL of boiling water over 5 to 10 mL of the dried herb and let it steep for 5 to 10 minutes); Tincture: 2 to 4 mL 3 times/day.

Mood disturbance: 350 mg capsules contain freeze-dried S. lateriflora whole aerial parts given 3 times daily for 2 weeks.

Other Benefits

Dried American skullcap can be steeped in a tea and consumed for its health benefits.

Word of Caution: Avoid excess intake of this herb as it may cause giddiness, nausea, and lightheadedness, as well as seizures in extreme cases. Always get it from a trusted, certified source, and don’t combine it with other medicines, unless you specifically discuss the choice with your doctor.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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