Scullcap is a herb which has the botanical name Scutellaria lateriflora and is part of the Labiatae family of plants. The common or greater Scullcap is fairly common in England. The name Scullcap is derived from the Latin scutella (a little dish). The root stock is perennial and creeping. The plant grows downy leaves which are opposite to each other on square stems. The flowers grow in pairs with bright blue corollas with an unusual helmet shaped upper lip. The herb has a slightly bitter taste with a slight smell.
Scullcap is known by several other names including Helmet Flower, Hoodwort, Quaker Bonnet, Scutellaria and Skullcap.
All the above ground parts of the plant are harvested during the flowering period, usually during August and September. The plant contains flavonoid glycosides (scutellarin and scutellarein), iridoids (catalpol), volatile oils (limonene, terpineol), resin, lignin and tannin. Scullcap should not be confused with the traditional Chinese herb Scutellari baicalensis, from the same plant family.
Herbal supplements can alter the effects of certain drugs, including prescription medications. Always tell your Doctor about any prescription medications, non-prescription medications, herbs or other dietary supplements you are taking. - Substances in Scullcap may cause drowsiness by acting in a similar manner to benzodiazepine-type drugs, so people should avoid using drugs such as alcohol, benzodiazepines and certain antihistamines with this herb, as it may increase the sedative effects of these drugs.
Scullcap has been used traditionally as a relaxant and a sedative.
Historically herbalists have used Scullcap to relieve nervous tension, 'hysteria' and disorders of the nervous system such as epilepsy. Modern herbalists have recommended its use for PMS, delirium tremens and nervous excitability. To date no scientific studies have been performed to validate these traditional uses.
Sedative, anti-convulsive, nervine tonic.
NOTES- The safety of Scullcap during pregnancy and lactation is yet to be established. Scullcap is stated to have been used traditionally to eliminate a mother's afterbirth and to promote menstruation. It is therefore not recommended to take Scullcap during pregnancy and lactation. - "A Modern Herbal" (1931) states that overdose of tincture of Scullcap can cause "giddiness, stupor, confusion of mind, twitchings of the limbs, intermission of the pulse and other symptoms indicative of epilepsy". No case reports have confirmed these effects in overdose.