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Information about Skullcap

Skullcap is Native American plant, the dried leaves and stems of which are used as an herbal medication and in teas to treat anxiety, stress and insomnia. 

Liver safety of Skullcap

Skullcap has been linked to several instances of clinically apparent liver injury, but usually in combination with other botanicals.  

Mechanism of action of Skullcap

Skullcap is a flowering perennial plant native to North America (Scutellaria lateriflora) used for centuries by Native Americans to treat menstrual disorders, nervousness, digestive and kidney problems.  The name skullcap refers to the flower’s resemblance to helmets worn by European soldiers.  Skullcap was used formerly for nervous disorders, including hysteria, nervous tension, epilepsy and chorea.  It is now used largely as a sedative and sleeping pill, often in combination with other herbs such as valerian.  Skullcap extracts are prepared from the aerial parts of the Scutellaria lateriflora plant and contain large amounts of flavonoids, including scutellarin and baicalin, which are believed to be the active components accounting for its sedative and antispasmodic activity.  It is thought that the flavonoid compounds may act as gamma amino butyric acid (GABA) agonists similar to the benzodiazepines. 

List of Skullcap

There are more than 200 species of Scutteria which have different components and activities as well as potential toxicities.  Skullcap is available as a powder to prepare in tea, as a liquid solution and in capsules.  Scutellaria is listed as a component in many commercially available, over-the-counter herbal mixtures.

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