Skullcap

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What other names is Skullcap known by?

American Skullcap, Blue Pimpernel, Blue Skullcap, Escutelaria, Grande Toque, Helmet Flower, Hoodwort, Mad-Dog Herb, Mad-Dog Skullcap, Mad-Dog Weed, Mad Weed, Quaker Bonnet, Scullcap, Scutellaria, Scutellaire, Scutellaire de Virginie, Scutellaire Latériflore, Scutelluria, Scutellaria lateriflora, Toque Bleue, Toque Casquée, Toque des Marais.

What is Skullcap?

Skullcap is a plant. The above ground parts are used to make medicine.

Skullcap is used for many conditions, but so far, there isn't enough scientific evidence to determine whether or not it is effective for any of them.

Skullcap is used for trouble sleeping (insomnia), anxiety, stroke, and paralysis caused by stroke. It is also used for fever, high cholesterol, "hardening of the arteries" (atherosclerosis), rabies, epilepsy, nervous tension, allergies, skin infections, inflammation, a severe form of premenstrual syndrome called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), and spasms.

Skullcap products are not always what the labels claim. The plants germander and teucrium are often unwanted and unlabeled ingredients in skullcap products. Also, you may think you are buying Scuttelaria lateriflora, the species of skullcap that has been studied for medicinal use, but the product may contain a different species of skullcap instead. The most often substituted species are Western Skullcap (Scuttelaria canescens), Southern Skullcap (Scutellaria cordifolia), or Marsh Skullcap (Scutellaria galericulatum). These species contain different chemicals, so they are not considered interchangeable.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Anxiety. Early research suggests that healthy people who take a single dose of skullcap extract might feel more relaxed than tense. This effect appears to last for about 2 hours. However, other early research shows that taking skullcap three times daily for 2 weeks does not reduce anxiety in healthy people. But it might improve mood. It is not known if taking skullcap helps people who have been diagnosed with anxiety. Also it's not clear if long-term use is beneficial.
  • Seizures.
  • Stroke.
  • Trouble sleeping (insomnia).
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of skullcap for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

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How does Skullcap work?

The chemicals in skullcap are thought to cause sedation (drowsiness).

Are there safety concerns?

There is not enough information available to know if skullcap is safe to take for medical conditions.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking skullcap is you are pregnant or breast feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Surgery: Skullcap may slow down the central nervous system. Healthcare providers worry that anesthesia and other medications during and after surgery might increase this effect. Stop taking skullcap at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Are there any interactions with medications?



Sedative medications (CNS depressants)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Skullcap might cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Medications that cause sleepiness are called sedatives. Taking skullcap along with sedative medications might cause too much sleepiness.

Some sedative medications include benzodiazepines, pentobarbital (Nembutal), phenobarbital (Luminal), secobarbital (Seconal), thiopental (Pentothal), fentanyl (Duragesic, Sublimaze), morphine, propofol (Diprivan), and others.

Dosing considerations for Skullcap.

The appropriate dose of skullcap depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for skullcap. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Reviewed on 3/29/2011 12:35:40 PM

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