Photographer: Smith, R.W.

Basic Information

Common name: Skullcap

Other Names: Blue Skullcap, Scullcap, Mad Dog Weed, Madweed, Helmet Flower

Latin Binomial: Scutellaria lateriflora

Parts Used: Aerial parts (leaves, stems, and buds)


Medicinal Uses

Skullcap works almost exclusively as a nervine. However, because the nervous system navigates the entire body, the impact of skullcap can be felt in all the organs of the body that are supplied with nerves, which is pretty much everything. It trophorestorative abilities means that it provides nourishment that rebuilds nerve endings and strengthens the central nervous system to bring about a more lasting impact. As such, the herb can be taken on a regular basis over the long-term (3-6 months at a time) without fear of adverse impact.


Key Constituents

  • Iridoids (provide bitters to increase bile flow)
  • Flavonoids (antioxidants)
  • Volatile oils (able to pass the blood-brain barrier for maximum affect)
  • Tannins (create astringency)



  • Anti-Spasmodic
  • Relaxant
  • Anti-Seizure
  • Trophorestorative


Body Organs Acted Upon

  • Nervous System
  • All


When and How to Use It

Skullcap is best used as a tea or tincture. My personal preference is for the tincture because it is portable and easily accessible. Take to calm and relieve stress and anxiety conditions that cause worry, skittishness, fatigue and irritability, muscle tension, mild depression, inability to sleep, menstrual discomfort, intermittent nerve pain, and/or gastrointestinal distress.

As a tea, pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1-2 tsp. of herb and steep for 10-15 minutes, as needed, up to three times per day. As a tincture, take 2-4 ml of a 1:5 strength tincture made with 40% alcohol, as needed, up to three times per day (Hoffmann, 2003).


Safety Considerations

There have been cases of liver toxicity found to have been caused by products labeled as skullcap but actually containing a significant amount of an altogether different plant called Germander. Therefore, always purchase your skullcap from a reputable source known to have quality ingredients, preferably one that grows its own herbs.

There haven’t been any clinical trials done using this herb. There are no known contraindications, records of adverse interactions with other drugs or supplements, no adverse events or side effects, no statements on whether it’s safe for use by children, and no information is known about its safety during pregnancy or while lactating (AHPA, 2013). Scutellaria lateriflora is used similarly to Scutellaria baicalensis, common in China. Scutellaria baicalensis has been studied extensively (Chevallier, 2000).



American Herbal Products Association (2013). Botanical Safety Handbook, 2nd ed. Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

Bone, Kerry and Mills, Simon (2013). Principles and practice of phytotherapy: Modern herbal medicine, 2nd ed. Churchill Livingstone, Elsevier, Ltd. China.

Chevallier, Andrew (2000). Encyclopedia of herbal medicine: The definitive reference to 550 herbs and remedies for common ailments, 2nd ed. Dorling Kindersley. New York, NY.

Hoffmann, David (2003). Medical herbalism: The science and practice of herbal medicine. Healing Arts Press, Rochester, VT.

Pengally, Andrew (2004). The constituents of medicinal plants: An introduction to the chemistry and therapeutics of herbal medicine. CABI Consulting. Marston Book Services, Ltd., UK.

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