Scientific Name(S): Scutellaria laterifolia L. Family: Labiatae
Common Name(S): Scullcap, skullcap, helmetflower, hoodwort, mad-dog weed
Scullcap (also spelled "Skullcap") has traditionally been used internally for nervousness and convulsions, irritability, insomnia, and neuralgia. Scullcap may act as a sedative, to relax spasms, lower fever and stimulate the kidneys, and has anti-toxic effects.
Scullcap is an erect, widely-branched perennial that grows to thirty inches in height. The stem is slender and four sided. The leaves are thin, one to four inches long, ovate, pointed, coarsely serrated, and opposite.The flowers are blue, two-lipped, and arranged along spikes in each of the upper leaf axils.
History: In 1722, Scullcap was used as a bitter mint for insomnia and a cure for rabies, hence the name Mad Dog. For a generation or more it continued to be used as a leading antihydrophobic before it was at last proved ineffective.
Uses of Scullcap:
Although its efficacy has not been formally recognized, Scullcap has a mild sedative effect and is used in the treatment of anxiety and insomnia. In the past, it was also used for fever, nerve pain, muscular spasms, and epilepsy.
Side Effects of Scullcap:
If taken in a normal dose, scullcap does not seem to exhibit any adverse effects.
Toxicology: There is no evidence to indicate that Scutellaria is toxic when ingested at "normal" doses. According to the FDA, however, overdose of the tincture causes giddiness, stupor, confusion, twitching of the limbs, intermission of the pulse and other symptoms indicative of epilepsy.
Summary: Seutellaria has been employed in traditional American medicine for more than 200 years. It is generally recognized as being devoid of therapeutic activity although early claims suggested that the plant had potentially useful antibacterial and sedative effects. Recent studies indicate that it may possess anti-inflammatory activity related to its ability to inhibit the enzyme sialidase. The plant continues to be found in some herbal teas.
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