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AWhat Is Skullcap Used For

AWhat Is Skullcap Used For

AWhat Is Skullcap Used For

American skullcap is native to North America, but it is now widely cultivated in Europe and other areas of the world. It has been used for more than 200 years as a mild relaxant and as a therapy for anxiety, nervous tension, and convulsions. Studies show American skullcap has significant antioxidant effects, and may help protect against neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, anxiety, and depression. There's even some evidence to suggest that American skullcap may inhibit food allergic response. Today, other herbs (such as valerian) are more commonly used, although American skullcap may be combined with other calming herbs in some preparations.

Skullcap

Most of the studies done on skullcap have examined Chinese skullcap. Native to China and parts of Russia, Chinese skullcap has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat allergies, infections, inflammation, cancer, and headaches. It may also have antifungal and antiviral effects. Animal studies suggest that Chinese skullcap may help reduce symptoms of diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure), but scientists don't know if Chinese scullcap has the same effect in humans. In test tubes and animal studies, Chinese skullcap appears to have some cancer-fighting properties. More research is needed to determine any benefit.Skullcap is a flowering perennial plant native to North America (Scutellaria lateriflora) used for centuries by Native Americans to treat menstrual disorders, nervousness, digestive and kidney problems. The name skullcap refers to the flower’s resemblance to helmets worn by European soldiers. Skullcap was used formerly for nervous disorders, including hysteria, nervous tension, epilepsy and chorea. It is now used largely as a sedative and sleeping pill, often in combination with other herbs such as valerian.

Skullcap extracts are prepared from the aerial parts of the Scutellaria lateriflora plant and contain large amounts of flavonoids, including scutellarin and baicalin, which are believed to be the active components accounting for its sedative and antispasmodic activity. It is thought that the flavonoid compounds may act as gamma amino butyric acid (GABA) agonists similar to the benzodiazepines. There are more than 200 species of Scutellaria which have different components and activities as well as potential toxicities. Skullcap is available as a powder to prepare in tea, as a liquid solution and in capsules. Scutellaria is listed as a component in many commercially available, over-the-counter herbal mixtures. Skullcap has been implicated in rare instances of clinically apparent liver injury, although in most cases multiple herbal medications were being taken and the role of skullcap in the hepatic damage was unclear. Furthermore, in some instances phytochemical analysis has identified significant adulterants (germander) or mislabeling in cases of suspected skullcap hepatotoxicity. In reported cases, the onset of symptoms and jaundice occurred within 1 to 12 weeks of starting skullcap, and the serum enzyme pattern was typically hepatocellular. Immunoallergic and autoimmune features were usually absent, although low titers of autoantibodies were not infrequent. Recovery was rapid once the herbal was discontinued, but some cases have resulted in acute liver failure. Chinese skullcap is a different species, but may also have adverse effects on the liver. There have been several reports and small case series of acute liver injury with jaundice arising after 1 to 3 months of starting herbals or dietary supplements with Chinese skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis), the liver injury resembling that associated with North American skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora). (Source: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)

 

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