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Quest Vitamins LTD,
8 Venture Way,
Aston Science Park,
Birmingham,
B7 4AP.

Tel: 0121 359 0056
Fax: 0121 359 0313
Email: info@questvitamins.co.uk
Registered in England No. 2530437

Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)

DESCRIPTION

European skullcap is not to be confused with its Chinese relative, Scutellaria baicalensis, a common herb used in Chinese herbal formulas. The two herbs have very different effects on the body. One way to tell the difference is that the above-ground plant of European skullcap is used, while the root of the Chinese herb is used. European skullcap is popularly used as a sedative.


HERBAL USES

Traditionally, Native Americans and European herbalists used skullcap as a sedative. It has been used to induce sleep, and relieve Nervousness.


SUGGESTED INTAKES

1 to 2 g, three times a day.

When taken in combination with other herbs, follow label instructions.

Usually, skullcap is not taken long-term.


SUPPLEMENTAL USES

Sedative:
Today, skullcap is still commonly used as a sedative, although little scientific evidence exists to support its use. Skullcap may have mild sedative and antispasmodic properties (1). It appears to alleviate mild Anxiety and Insomnia. Skullcap has also been used to facilitate drug or alcohol withdrawal.


SAFETY AND PRECAUTIONS

The safety of skullcap is relatively unknown. One study has indicated that excessive amounts can cause confusion and stupor (2). Some products containing skullcap have caused liver damage. However, it is very likely that the germander commonly contaminating skullcap is the culprit. Germander is a known toxic substance to the liver.

Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, and patients with severe liver or kidney disease has not been determined. It is therefore not advised for these individuals.


INTERACTIONS AND CONTRA-INDICATIONS

Skullcap may interact with alkaloids, anorectic drugs (fenfluramine), dopamine receptor agonists, oral anticoagulants, analgesics (nalbuphine HCl and propoxyphene HCl), CNS drugs, furosemide, and colchicine.

It may increase the metabolism of digitoxin, oral contraceptives, phenytoin, corticosteroids, fluroxene, methadone, metyrapone, and tetracyclines.

Avoid use with methotrimeprazine, a CNS depressant analgesic, and procarbazine antineoplastic drugs.

REFERENCES

1. Foster S. herbs for Your Health. Loveland, CO: Interweave Press, 1996, 86-87.
2. Newall C, et al. Herbal medicines: A guide for health-care professionals. London: Pharmaceutical Press, 1996: 239.

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