Insomnia Home > Skullcap

Skullcap is an herbal supplement that is often used for treating anxiety, insomnia, and other conditions. Although the effectiveness of this product has not been evaluated, it is believed that it may have anti-anxiety and sedative effects. Skullcap is available in several different forms, including extracts and teas. Potential side effects of the supplements include drowsiness, giddiness, seizures, and liver damage.

What Is Skullcap?

Skullcap is a perennial herb used to treat a variety of conditions, including insomnia and anxiety. When used medicinally, the term "skullcap" usually refers to one specific plant species, Scutellaria lateriflora. There are several other related Scutellaria plants, but they should not be used interchangeably with skullcap.
(Click Benefits of Skullcap for more information on what it is used for, including additional uses.)

How Does It Work?

It is not exactly clear how this herb works. It seems that there are many different active compounds within it, and researchers are not sure which of these compounds are responsible for the herb's medicinal properties. Some of these active compounds may work in the brain by enhancing the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a brain chemical that is naturally calming. GABA can slow down or stop certain nerve signals in the brain. This may be why skullcap has anti-anxiety and sedative effects.

Is It Effective?

There is not enough scientific evidence to evaluate the effectiveness of this herb for any use.
(Click Does Skullcap Work? for more information.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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