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 marsh
y 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
, and mental illnesses
Today, Skullcap is used mainly to treat insomnia
s, and anxiety
. Many herb
al remedies for insomnia contain this herb in addition to others such as Passionflower
(Passiflora incarnata), and Valerian
Little research has been done on this herb, although its actions have valid applications. The actual chemical
s 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).