American Scullcap

(Scutellaria lateriflora)

Scullcap is a member of the mint family, it grows in eastern North America and is most commonly used in United States and European herbal products containing scullcap. The above-ground (aerial) part of the plant is used in herbal preparations. It should not be confused with Chinese Scullcap which has very different actions and uses.

Scullcap was used historically, and is today, as a sedative for people with nervous tension and insomnia. It was, and continues to be, commonly combined with valerian for insomnia. It was also used by herbalists as a remedy for epilepsy and nerve pain.

What it does

American scullcap contains a flavanoid glycoside called scutellarin, volatile oil, tannins and iridoids. Scutellarin is thought to be the compound that has sedative and anti-spasmodic actions. Scullcap is also anti-convulsant, a brain and central nervous system dilator and a nerve tonic.

Potential Uses

Anxiety Chronic fatigue syndrome Epilepsy
Insomnia Migraine Nerve pain
PMS Stress

Other information

Scullcap is sometimes used to support people withdrawing from use of tranquillisers as it can help reduce withdrawal symptoms.

A herbal tea infusion can be drunk up to 3 times a day.


Because scullcap has a sedative action, you should not take it if you take anti-psychotic, tranquilliser or anti-convulsant medication.

Do not use in pregnancy or when breastfeeding.

Generally, there are no side effects or contra-indications from using American scullcap.

Make sure that you buy a reputable brand of American scullcap, in the past some scullcap products have been contaminated with germander which is known to cause liver damage.


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