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Have you heard of skullcap (also known as Skullcap)? This little plant has been used in Asia and America for centuries. But it can also be of great use today. For instance, you could use it for sleeping problems, mood problems and infections. And perhaps interestingly, it can also cause a mild high. In this blog, you can read all about this medicinal herb.

History of skullcap

Skullcap is a plant belonging to the lipflower family. Other well-known plants in this family are rosemary, oregano, mint, basil and sage. It is an ornamental perennial native to North America, but there are two hundred different species and some of them are also found in Europe and Asia. The name skullcap comes from the Latin "scutella". This means little helmet, referring to the plant's flowers, which resemble little helmets whose visor is raised.

It has long been known to many peoples that skullcap has health benefits. The plant has long been used in traditional medicine in China and India, especially the roots and leaves. Within traditional medicine, skullcap is best known as an herb that helps relax and for its positive effects on mood. Furthermore, it can also cause a mild high.

Skullcap grows to an average height of 60 to 80 cm. The plant develops beautiful blue or purple flowers. The active substances of skullcap are:

  • Tannins
  • Flavonoids (e.g. wogonin, scutellarin, baicalin)
  • Bitter iridoids (such as catalpol)
  • Essential oils

These active ingredients each have their own effect on the body and mind. We discuss them in more detail below.

The possible benefits of skullcap

As mentioned, skullcap has occupied an important place in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine for thousands of years. In China, it was made into a tonic called Huang Qin. To make it, the dried roots of the herb were boiled in water, or the active ingredients were extracted in alcohol. This tonic could help the body get rid of toxins. In America too, skullcap was used by the natives. It was used with them for mood problems and heavy menstruation. But even now you can benefit from skullcap.

For sleeping problems

Do you often lie awake because of worry or stress? Skullcap can help you relax. It may have a calming effect, helping you unwind physically and mentally. The flavonoids in the herb are probably responsible for this. They may have a positive effect on sleep-wake rhythms.

Antibacterial and antiviral effects

Research suggests that skullcap could also have antiviral and antibacterial effects. It was studied on a dangerous bacterium (acinetobacter baumannii) that can cause pneumonia in patients in hospitals. Skullcap was one of 30 different herbs tested, but only skullcap was found to be 100% effective against this bacterium.

Positive effect on mood

If you are gloomy, uncomfortable or suffering from anxiety, you could try skullcap as a supplement. In fact, this herb can help improve your mood. A 2013 study found that participants who took skullcap daily suffered less from mood disorders. The plant seems to improve overall mood without having a negative effect on energy or cognitive functioning.


Skullcap may also affect the immune system, due to the large amount of antioxidants it contains. There is currently a lot of research on the possibility of using skullcap for (chronic) inflammation. Think of osteoarthritis or pneumonia. In particular, wogonin seems to have the most powerful anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, skullcap may well contain even more substances that can be useful in inflammation. More than 50 different flavonoids have now been discovered.

Can you get side effects?

You may experience side effects when using skullcap. However, these are rare and generally mild. Skullcap seems to be safe under normal use. In any case, however, it is not recommended to use skullcap if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. And if you have further doubts whether this remedy is suitable for you, it is advisable to consult with your GP.

Some side effects of skullcap that have been reported are:

  • Stomach pain
  • Drowsiness
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea

Using skullcap as a supplement

You can get skullcap in different forms and therefore use it in different ways. You can make tea from the dried leaves (steep 1 teaspoon in hot water for 15 minutes). In our shop, you will find skullcap tea from Indian Elements. Or choose the Forest Dream mix from Indian Spirit, which contains skullcap as well as other calming herbs. However, you can also choose capsules or a liquid extract. In terms of effect, your choice does not matter. It's all about what you find an easy way to take skullcap.

Still wondering what dose you should take? Unfortunately, we cannot give a straightforward answer to that. It depends on the way you take skullcap and also on the concentration of the drug (how much skullcap the drug contains). It also depends on how sensitive you are to the active substances and for which complaints you take it. Follow the guidelines on the packaging. Start with a low dose and build up slowly until you are satisfied with the result.