Scutellaria lateriflora (Labiatae) or other closely related Scutellaria sp.

Native to North America, Skullcap grows wild in much of the United States and Canada. It grows in damp sunny areas such as river banks and marshy lands. Skullcap is a small herb consisting of small spiked leaves and a 3-5 inch stalk with many pink to lavender or purple flowers. The flowers, loosely resembling snapdragon flowers, have a slightly skullish shape. The name of the herb stems from this likeness.

Skullcap has been traditionally used as a nerve tonic and sedative. Its sedative action was once used to treat disorders such as epilepsy, hysteria, rabies, and mental illnesses.

Today, Skullcap is used mainly to treat insomnia, stress related tension or headaches, and anxiety. Many herbal remedies for insomnia contain this herb in addition to others such as Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata), and Valerian (Valeriana officinalis).

Little research has been done on this herb, although its actions have valid applications. The actual chemicals that give this herb its medical action are unknown. A related species S. baicalensis has been well researched and is known to be highly anti-inflammatory due mostly to its high flavonoid content (baicalin and wogoniside).

Skull"cap` (?), n.


A cap which fits the head closely; also, formerly, a headpiece of iron sewed inside of a cap for protection.

2. Bot.

Any plant of the labiate genus Scutellaria, the calyx of whose flower appears, when inverted, like a helmet with the visor raised.

3. Zool.

The Lophiomys.

Mad-dog skullcap Bot., an American herb (Scetellaria lateriflora) formerly prescribed as a cure for hydrophobia.


© Webster 1913.

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