Blue Skullcap, Scutellaria lateriflora

Disclaimer    For educational purposes only.  Do not use as medical advice

Health Benefits
For: Insomnia • Anxiety • Restlessness • Stress • PMS • Menstrual pain • Depression • Headaches • Nervousness • Irritation • Emotional instability • Epilepsy • Parkinson's disease • Drug addition withdrawal • Panic attacks
Attributes: Anti-inflammatory • Sedative • Anxiolytic • Antiradical • Antispasmodic • Nervine • Tonic • Anticonvulsant • GABAergic
Products (online examples)









Research (sample)
Scutellarin • baicalein • dihydrobaicalin • Lignins • Resins • Iron • Methoxyflavone • Catalpol • Key: baicalein, baicalin
  • Mad Dog seems to be the most common name for this herb in American literature.
  • While this herb has been used for a wide variety of ailments captured in the "For" section, it is primarily marketed as a solution for the nervous system - anxiety, depression, tension, migraines, stress relief, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menstrual discomfort

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Fun Facts
  • Other Names: Mad Dog Skullcap • Hoodwort • American Skullcap • European Skullcap • Hood Wort • Blue Pimpernel • Mad Dog Weed • Mad Weed
  • Plant Family: Labiatae
  • S. lateriflora is a popular herb used by Native Americans.  It is indigenous to North America and cultivated in Europe.
  • The name skullcap came from the blue flowers that looks like the medieval European soldier helmets. 
  • The name Mad Dog came about when it became well known for treating rabies in 19th century America.13
  • Skullcap is a part of the mint family.  People allergic to mint should also avoid this herb.
  • The flower color range from pink to blue.
  • It is a perennial reaching one to thee feet high with flowers that bloom July to .August.
There are many species of Scutellaria.  The following are the most popular in plant based medicine and can be confused with each other.

Scutellaria lateriflora (American Skullcap) is used as a mild relaxant, anxiety, stress, and convulsions and may protect against alzheimer's disease.  This is NOT a substitute for S. baicalensis.

Scutellaria Galericulata (Eurpean Skullcap) has similar effects as S. lateriflora, but is said to be less effective

Scutellaria Minor(Eurpean Skullcap) has similar effects as S. lateriflora, but is said to be less effective

Scutellaria baicalensis (Baical Skullcap, 黄芩) is Huang Qin.  This is NOT a substitute.

Scutellaria barbata (Barbat Skullcap, 半枝莲is Ban Zhi Lian.  It is used to clear heat, reduce inflammation, reduce toxins, and invigorate blood.  This is NOT a substitute.

Scutellaria lateriflora is in the USDA Plant Database.  Drill down via USDA Interactive Map:

USA: Scutellaria lateriflora is available in the wild

USDA Zones: 6-9

Native: USA

Habitats: Damp places, meadows, ditches, pond sides from Connecticut south to Florida and Texas.26 

Properties, Actions, Indications, etc.              Category: Calm Spirit Nourishing 
English: Blue Skullcap       Pharmaceutical: Folium Scutellariae Lateriflora  
Organs: Liver • Heart      Temperature: Cold 
Taste: Bitter • Pungent        Toxicity:
Patterns: Heart heat • Liver heat 
Actions:  Clear heat • Dispel wind • Calm spasms • Reduce liver yang
Indications: Anxiety • Headaches • Nervousness • Irritation • Insomnia • Emotional instability • Fear
Typical Dosage: 2g to 9g in decoction; 2ml to 4ml in tincture          Guidelines
Parts Used: Leaves • Flowers • Stem from 3-4 year old plants (whole plant can be used)          Substitutes:   
Combinations Purpose
S. Lateriflora (2-15 drops tincture) + Cypripedium Pubescens (10-20 drops tincture); mix with warm water; taken every 2 to 4 hours Irritable and nervousness 27 
S. Lateriflora (2-12 drops tincture) + Passiflora Incarnata (15-40 drops tincture); mix with water; taken every 3 hours Insomnia, anxiety, exhaustion 27 
S. Lateriflora (3-15 drops tincture) + Hydrastis Canadensis (7-10 drops tincture) + Capsicum (2-4 drops tincture); mix with warm water; taken as needed Heart weakness27 
S. Lateriflora (2-15 drops tincture) + Echinacea Angustifolia (15-20 drops tincture); mix with warm water; taken as needed Poisonous snake bites or hydrophobia
Mix 1 ounce infusion to 1 pint of boiling water; take 1/2 teacup as needed Hydrophobia, hysteria, convulsions28

Be cautious with all medicine.
  • This herb can induce liver injury. 
  • Skullcap is a part of the mint family.  People allergic to mint should also avoid this herb.
  • Tincture overdose may lead to dizziness, confusion, and seizures.
  • Do not use if pregnant.
Potential Drug Interactions

Herbal medicine may interact negatively with pharma drugs and other herbs.  Examples below:


Pharma Drugs:Sedative medication • Antidepressants • Nervines • Anxiolytic medication • Alcohol • Antihistamines • Barbituates • Opioids • Valium


Information in this post came from many sources, including class notes, practitioners, websites, webinars, books, magazines, and editor's personal experience.  While the original source often came from historical Chinese texts,  variations may result from the numerous English translations.   Always consult a doctor prior to using these drugs.  The information here is strictly for educational purposes. 

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