Why You Should Use Skullcap, The Herb That Induces Relaxation

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Why You Should Use Skullcap


Skullcap is a well-studied plant that appears to promote certain medicinal benefits. The plant has been shown to help with anxiety and elevate mood, possibly even playing a role in treating some serious diseases.

Skullcap, otherwise known as Scutellaria lamiaceae, is a member of the mint family native to wet habitats of North America. Traditionally used for medicinal purposes, skullcap is linked to treating a wide range of disorders, including insomnia, anxiety, stroke, fever, high cholesterol, hardening of the arteries, rabies, epilepsy, skin infections and inflammation. As exciting as these potential applications are, many of skullcap’s traditional uses are not backed up with scientific evidence.

DIFFERENT TYPES OF SKULLCAP

American skullcap has experienced over 200 years of use as a natural plant medicine to ease anxiety, nervous tension and convulsions. Furthermore, the plant’s potent antioxidant effects may also help to protect against certain neurological disorders. This type of skullcap bares small blue or purple flowers.

Chinese skullcap, otherwise known as Scutellaria baicalensis, is related to American skullcap, but is native to China and certain parts of Russia. Chinese skullcap boasts its own unique health benefits and was employed in traditional Chinese medicine to treat infection and inflammation. Moreover, there is reason to suggest that skullcap boasts legitimate antiviral and antifungal qualities.

HOW SKULLCAP CAN HELP WITH ANXIETY

How Skullcap Can Help With Anxiety

Anxiety is a feeling of worry or fear that either eases with time, or remains chronic and persists. All of us know the feeling of being worried, perhaps due to approaching deadlines or family stress, yet conditions such as generalised anxiety disorder can incite such feelings to arise on a daily basis and linger. Even without this diagnosis, simply living in today’s fast-paced world is enough to send the body’s fight or flight response into overdrive.

Luckily, several herbal allies exist that can reduce these anxious sensations, allowing the user moments of peace and time to unwind. In skullcap’s case, its flowers can be infused into a tea to stimulate the release of neurotransmitters and boost mood.

A scientific publication titled “Phytochemical and biological analysis of Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora L.): A medicinal plant with anxiolytic properties” delineates the method by which skullcap helps to relieve anxiety.

The authors credit compounds within American skullcap, flavonoids baicalin and baicalein, for promoting anxiolytic effects. According to the study, these compounds are known to bind to the benzodiazepine site of the GABA-A receptor, decreasing anxiety therein.

SKULLCAP FOR STRESS

Although stress and anxiety are inextricably linked, stress is considered a response to a threat, while anxiety is the reaction to the stress. There may be a blurry line between the definition and symptoms, but skullcap appears to assist with both conditions.

A study titled “American Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora): a randomised, double-blind placebo-controlled crossover study of its effects on mood in healthy volunteers” examined the administration of American skullcap on a population of mildly anxious volunteers. 43 participants were either given three daily doses of American skullcap measuring at 350mg per dose, or placebos. Over a period of two weeks, results from the skullcap group showed significant improvement in the participants’ mood disturbances.

MAY REDUCE RISK OF HEART DISEASE

May Reduce Risk Of Heart Disease

While many studies have been conducted on rat subjects, the research shows that compounds found within skullcap may help to reduce the risk of heart disease. A paper titled “Baicalein protects isoproterenol induced myocardial ischemic injury in male Wistar rats by mitigating oxidative stress and inflammation” focused specifically on the compowund baicalein.

During the study, subjects were given baicalein orally for 14 days. On the 13th and 14th days, rats were injected with isoproterenol (ISO) to induce myocardial injury. It was found that baicalein pretreatment resulted in higher levels of antioxidant defense enzymes. By the study’s conclusion, the authors deduced the cardioprotective potential of baicalein and thus, skullcap.

MAY INHIBIT CANCER CELL GROWTH

Studies have shown that skullcap extract may be able to slow and even stop the growth of certain types of cancer cells, according to research published within the International Journal of Molecular Medicine.

This study featured the compound scutellarein, which was extracted from American skullcap. The extract was found to significantly suppress the proliferation rate of human fibrosarcoma cells via the process of apoptosis. Apoptosis is simply defined as the normal and controlled death of cells on living organisms throughout their lifetime. The authors state that, “In conclusion, our data suggest that scutellarein has the ability to attenuate the development of fibrosarcoma and inhibit cancer cell metastasis.”

USING SKULLCAP

Using Skullcap

Like many herbal remedies, skullcap is available to consume in numerous different forms. These include tinctures, teas, capsules and more.

In order to make a tincture, place half a cup of dried skullcap leaves into a jar and cover the material with 100-proof vodka. Keep the mixture infusing for about 6 weeks, shaking on a daily basis.

Be sure to purchase your skullcap from a reliable and credible source, as the market seems to have recently flooded with poor quality products. These include varieties contaminated with germander, a type of plant known to cause liver problems.

It is important to note that skullcap may interact with certain medications and may be dangerous when ingested by people with specific health conditions. Always be sure to check with your clinician before trying new treatments.

The recommended dosage of American skullcap is between 1-2g of dried herbs up to 3 times daily. While tinctures can vary greatly in strength and potency, 2-4ml of tincture 3 times daily is suggested. Research dosing thoroughly before trying any new skullcap formulations.

Luke Sumpter

Written by: Luke Sumpter
Luke Sumpter is a journalist based in the United Kingdom, specialising in health, alternative medicine, herbs and psychedelic healing. He has written for outlets such as Reset.me, Medical Daily and The Mind Unleashed, covering these and other areas.

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