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Skullcap Herb - Uses And Side Effects

Other Names :  Blue Skullcap, Common Scullcap, Hairy Skullcap, Hooded Skullcap, Helmet Flower, Hoodwort, Madog Skullcap.



Skullcap (also spelled Scullcap ) is a North American perennial plant which grows in wet places in Canada and the northern and eastern U.S. The fibrous, yellow rootstock produces a branching stem from 1 to 3 feet high, with opposite, ovate, serrate leaves that come to a pint. Various species of skullcap are important in Traditional Chinese Medicine as herbs that clear heat and dry dampness. The use of herb dates back at least two thousand years.

The primary properties of this herb are considered to be alterative, anaphrodisiac, anodyne, antibacterial, antispasmodic, astringent, bitter tonic, diuretic, febrifuge, nervine, sedative, and yin tonic. It's primary known constituents include lignan, tannin, essential oil, flavonoids ( scutellarin ), scutellonin, bitter ( scutellaine ) palmitic acid, stearic acid, linoleic acid, oleic acid, phenols, tannin, calcium, and B vitamins.

Common doses of Skullcap

Skullcap comes as:

  • capsules (425 and 429 milligrams)
  • liquid extract (1 and 2 ounces).
Some experts recommend the following doses:
  • As dried herb, 1 to 2 grams taken orally as tea three times daily.
  • As a liquid extract (1: I in 25% alcohol), 2 to 4 milliliters taken orally three times daily.
  • As a tincture (1:5 in 45% alcohol), 1 to 2 milliliters taken orally three times daily.

Uses of Skullcap herb

Skullcap is a powerful medicinal herb, it is used in alternative medicine as an anti-inflammatory, abortifacient, antispasmodic, slightly astringent, emmenagogue, febrifuge, nervine, sedative and strongly tonic. Specifically, skullcap may help to :-

  • Blood clots in the brain
  • Inflammation
  • Movement disorders
  • Seizures
  • Spasticity
  • Stroke
  • Insomnia
  • To enhance cancer chemotherapy
  • To lower cholesterol
  • Viral infections

Side effects of Skullcap

Call your health care practitioner if you experience any of these possible side effects of skullcap:

  • confusion
  • stupor
  • giddiness
  • twitching.
  • seizures

This herb also can cause irregular heartbeats and liver damage.

Are there any interactions?

Combining herbs with certain drugs may alter their action or produce unwanted side effects. Don't use skullcap while taking:

  • Antabuse
  • drugs that suppress the immune system, such as Imuran, Prograf, and Sandimmune.

Important points to remember

  • Don't use this herb if you're pregnant or breast-feeding.
  • Know that your health care practitioner may recommend periodic liver function tests while you're taking skullcap.
  • Don't use large doses of skullcap-they could be toxic.
  • Keep in mind that even commercial skullcap sources have been contaminated with other herbs, one of which (Teucrium) may damage the liver.

What the research shows

Research suggests skullcap may enhance cancer chemotherapy. One study of lung cancer patients found that adding skullcap to their chemotherapy boosted their immune systems. Another showed that the herb helped to support patients' circulatory and immune systems during chemotherapy. These findings deserve vigorous follow-up studies. In the meantime, medical experts are taking a wait-and-see attitude toward all medicinal uses of skullcap.

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