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scullcap, skullcap, American skullcap, helmet flower, hoodwort, mad weed, mad-dog skullcap
Scutellaria lateriflora L. (Lamiaceae)
How is this product usually used?
Skullcap can be taken by mouth and is available in dry leaf, decoctiondecoctionthe process of boiling plant parts in water and straining the liquid for medicine, infusioninfusionthe process of steeping or soaking plant material in hot or cold water to isolate its active ingredient, extractextractto get, separate, or isolate a desired active ingredient, and powder forms. The usual amount taken each day can be anywhere from 0.25 g to 12 g of the dry leaf.
Your health care provider may have recommended using this product in other ways. Contact a health care provider if you have questions.
What is this product used for?
- help relieve nervousness (e.g., help anxious people to feel calmer)
- help people sleep better
- help relieve menstrual cramps
- hyperlipidemia (high levels of cholesterol in the blood)
- atherosclerosis (plaque build up in the arteries)
- muscle spasm
Skullcap was traditionally used for a variety of conditions.
People have traditionally used skullcap in herbal medicine to:
People have traditionally used skullcap for other conditions, such as:
The effectiveness of skullcap for these conditions has not been proven.
More research is needed on the long-term use of skullcap extractextractto get, separate, or isolate a desired active ingredient for anxiety disorders. There is some evidence that suggests a single dose may have a relaxing effect that can last for about 2 hours.
Your health care provider may have recommended this product for other conditions. Contact a health care provider if you have questions.
What else should I be aware of?
- benzodiazepines (e.g., diazepam)
- drugs that treat insomnia (e.g., zopiclone)
- drugs that treat seizures (e.g., phenytoin)
- narcotic analgesics (e.g., codeine, oxycodone)
- tricyclic antidepressants (e.g., amitryptiline)
The safety of skullcap has not been proven.
People have reported liver damage possibly caused by using products that contain skullcap, although the actual cause was not confirmed. Germander, a herb known to damage the liver, is often found in skullcap-containing products. It is possible that germander was in the products reported.
Side effects include drowsiness. Large amounts can lead to cognitivecognitiverelating to the ability to think, reason, remember, and discern impairment, giddiness, confusion, twitching, seizures, irregular heartbeat, and epileptic-like symptoms. Avoid operating heavy machinery, driving, or taking part in activities that require mental alertness while taking skullcap.
Avoid using skullcap if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
Do not use skullcap with other medications or natural health products that have sedativesedativean agent that induces sleep, relaxes, and reduces tension effects. For example:
Consult your health care provider if your symptoms continue or worsen.
If you are using skullcap for insomnia, talk to your physician or health care provider if sleeplessness persists for 3 or more weeks.
Before taking any new medications, including natural health products, speak to your physician, pharmacist, or other health care provider. Tell your health care provider about any natural health products you may be taking.
- Health Canada. Natural Health Products Ingredients Database. Monograph: Scullcap. [updated 2008 January 18; cited 2011 August 31]. Available from: http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monoReq.do?id=159
- Natural Database. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Scullcap (Skullcap). [Accessed online 19 March 2014].
- Natural Standard. Natural Standard Bottom Line Monograph: Scullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora). http://www.naturalstandard.com/index-abstract.asp?create-abstract=scullcap.asp&title=Scullcap
- University of Maryland Medical Center. Skullcap. Available at: http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/skullcap. Accessed 19 March 2014.
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