What is Scullcap?

Scullcap (S. laterifolia), a member of the mint family, is native to the US where it grows in moist woods. Although it is widely distributed throughout large regions of North America, there are related species found as far away as China. Scullcap is an erect perennial with bluish flower. Official compendia (e.g., NF VI) recognized only the dried over ground portion of the plant as useful; however, some herbal texts listed all parts as medicinal. A number of species have been used medicinally, and the most common European variety has been S. baicalensis, a native of East Asia.

Scientific Name(s) Scutellaria laterifolia
Common Name(s) Scullcap also is known as skullcap, helmetflower, hoodwort, and mad-dog weed.
What is it used for?   Traditional/Ethnobotanical uses
Scullcap appears to have been introduced into traditional American medicine toward the end of the 1700s, when it was promoted as an effective treatment for the management of hydrophobia (hence the derivation of one of its common names). It later was used as a tonic, particularly in proprietary remedies for "female weakness." The plant had been reputed to be an herbal tranquilizer, particularly in combination with Valerian, but has fallen into disuse. Scullcap has traditionally been used to treat nervousness, irritability, and neuralgia, as well as for its sedative properties.

Miscellaneous uses
One clinical study indicates some anti-anxiety properties of scullcap. Recent studies also suggest that it might have anti-inflammatory activity. The depressant and antihypertensive effects of scullcap also have been looked at in a few small animal studies with no conclusive results. Teas prepared from Scutellaria species have demonstrable antibacterial and antifungal activity.

What is the recommended dosage?
Limit the doses of American skullcap to no more than the package recommendation. Typical doses (see individual product information): Dried herb– 1 to 2 g 3 times/day; tea– 240 mL 3 times/day (pour 250 mL of boiling water over 5 to 10 mL of the dried herb and steep for 10 to 15 min); tincture– 2 to 4 mL 3 times/day.

1. Skullcap. Review of Natural Products. factsandcomparisons4.0 [online]. 2007. Available from Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. Accessed April 23, 2007.
Further information
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

The use of complementary and alternative medicine has increased fivefold over the past 10 years, with approximately 42% of Americans taking some form of herbal medication[1]. Herbal supplements causing drug induced liver injury is also increasingly being recognized. Chinese skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis) belongs to the mint family and has been studied as a possible anti-inflammatory agent[2]. This herbal supplement is currently available in the United States as Move Free Advanced® which is an over the counter arthritis remedy comprised of glucosamine, chondroitin, Chinese scullcap and black catechu. Recently, reports of hepatotoxicity have been described after taking this supplement[3]. We report a case of an elderly woman who experienced biopsy proven Chinese skullcap induced hepatotoxicity that reoccurred with re-challenge.


In this case, the patient developed an acute hepatitis clinical picture that improved following discontinuation, and then returned when she re-challenged herself with the glucosamine/chondroitin supplement. Also, the liver biopsy supports the impression of drug-induced hepatitis. Although there are no documented cases of hepatotoxicity for glucosamine, chondroitin or black catechu, Chinese skullcap has been implicated as a hepatotoxin in the past[3].

Chinese skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis) is a plant that belongs to the Mint family and is also known as huang qin, baikal and scutellaria. It is related to American Skullcap (Scutellaria lateirflora) and even though they are not the same, both are often referred to as Skullcap or scutellaria making differentiation difficult. They are both commonly used as a relaxant. Recently the combination of Chinese skullcap and Black Catechu has been studied for possible anti-inflammatory properties[2].

1. Kessler RC, Davis RB, Foster DF, Van Rompay MI, Walters EE, Wilkey SA, Kaptchuk TJ, Eisenberg DM. Long-term trends in the use of complementary and alternative medical therapies in the United States. Ann Intern Med. 2001;135:262–268. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

  1. Burnett BP, Silva S, Mesches MH, Wilson S, Jia , Q Safety evaluation of a combination, defined extract of Scutellaria Baiscalensis and Acacia Catechu. J Food Biochem. 2007;31:797–825. [Google Scholar]
  2. Linnebur SA, Rapacchietta OC, Vejar M. Hepatotoxicity associated with Chinese skullcap contained in Move Free Advanced dietary supplement: two case reports and review of the literature. Pharmacotherapy. 2010;30:750, 258e–262e. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

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Replies to This Discussion

Hey, Mystic Wolf, could you find a few photos of this scullcap so that I'll know it if I see it, please?

Resultado de imagem para IMAGENS DE SKULLCAP


Imagem relacionada

I went looking for pictures to identify myself.

Resultado de imagem para IMAGENS DE SKULLCAP

Thank you Mystic Wolf.  the american one looks a bit like a mint leaf.  I think we have some around here,

I actually found Mugwort growing by the woods. I always bought it but now found it by me in the woods.

I've been looking for that too, it's probably right in front of me.

I found mugwort out in the woods. I usually purchase it online until I found it by me. I use it to cleanse my Crystal Ball and mix it with my other herbs for tea.


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