scullcap, skullcap, American skullcap, helmet flower, hoodwort, mad weed, mad-dog skullcap
Scutellaria lateriflora L. (Lamiaceae)
What is this product used for?
Skullcap was traditionally used for a variety of conditions.
People have traditionally used skullcap in herbal medicine to:
- help relieve nervousness (e.g., help anxious people to feel calmer)
- help people sleep better
- help relieve menstrual cramps
People have traditionally used skullcap for other conditions, such as:
- hyperlipidemia (high levels of cholesterol in the blood)
- atherosclerosis (plaque build up in the arteries)
- muscle spasm
The effectiveness of skullcap for these conditions has not been proven.
More research is needed on the long-term use of skullcap extractextractto get, separate, or isolate a desired active ingredient for anxiety disorders. There is some evidence that suggests a single dose may have a relaxing effect that can last for about 2 hours.
Your health care provider may have recommended this product for other conditions. Contact a health care provider if you have questions.
What else should I be aware of?
The safety of skullcap has not been proven.
People have reported liver damage possibly caused by using products that contain skullcap, although the actual cause was not confirmed. Germander, a herb known to damage the liver, is often found in skullcap-containing products. It is possible that germander was in the products reported.
Side effects include drowsiness. Large amounts can lead to cognitivecognitiverelating to the ability to think, reason, remember, and discern impairment, giddiness, confusion, twitching, seizures, irregular heartbeat, and epileptic-like symptoms. Avoid operating heavy machinery, driving, or taking part in activities that require mental alertness while taking skullcap.
Avoid using skullcap if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
Do not use skullcap with other medications or natural health products that have sedativesedativean agent that induces sleep, relaxes, and reduces tension effects. For example:
- benzodiazepines (e.g., diazepam)
- drugs that treat insomnia (e.g., zopiclone)
- drugs that treat seizures (e.g., phenytoin)
- narcotic analgesics (e.g., codeine, oxycodone)
- tricyclic antidepressants (e.g., amitryptiline)
Consult your health care provider if your symptoms continue or worsen.
If you are using skullcap for insomnia, talk to your physician or health care provider if sleeplessness persists for 3 or more weeks.
Before taking any new medications, including natural health products, speak to your physician, pharmacist, or other health care provider. Tell your health care provider about any natural health products you may be taking.