Skullcap herb by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
Feb 5 2014

Skullcap herb - also spelled Scullcap - was traditionally used by North American Indians for sedative and anti anxiety properties. Skullcap contains many flavonoids. There are herbs and supplements that are more effective for anxiety. These include Hydroxytryptophan, the serotonin precursor, Kava Kava, an herb from the South Pacific, Hops herb is helpful to help induce sleep, and Passion-Flower, a gentle herb that helps you relax. Some people prefer an herb used in Ayurvedic medicine. Taking half a capsule of ashwagandha is one option. For those who have trouble relaxing at night and falling asleep, the occasional use of Good-Night-Rx is quite helpful.

American Skullcap -- Scutellaria lateriflora --

Chinese Skullcap -- Scutellaria baicalensis --

Antioxidant content
Nat Prod Commun. 2013. Anti-oxidative and DNA protecting effects of flavonoids-rich Scutellaria lateriflora.

Skullcap Herb Research
The sequences of the plastid gene rpl16 and the rpl16-rpl14 spacer region allow discrimination among six species of Scutellaria.
J Ethnopharmacol. 2005.
Dried aerial parts of Scutellaria galericulata ( Labiatae; marsh skullcap ) and Scutellaria lateriflora (Labiatae; mad dog skullcap ) are mainly used as skullcap, a medicinal herb, in Europe and the United States. The respective dried aerial parts of the two species are difficult to distinguish morphologically from each other. We attempted to discriminate among six species (Scutellaria altissima L. (Labiatae), Scutellaria baicalensis Georgi (Labiatae), Scutellaria galericulata, Scutellaria incana Spreng. (Labiatae), Scutellaria indica L. (Labiatae) and Scutellaria lateriflora) of Scutellaria, which include three medicinal species (Scutellaria galericulata, Scutellaria lateriflora and Scutellaria baicalensis), by comparing the respective nucleotide sequences of the plastid rpl16 gene and the rpl16-rpl14 spacer region. Comparisons of these sequences allowed us to identify each of the six species unequivocally.

Comparison of the chemical composition of extracts from Scutellaria lateriflora - skullcap - using accelerated solvent extraction and supercritical fluid extraction versus standard hot water or 70% ethanol extraction.
J Agric Food Chem. 2005.
The aqueous extract of American skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora L. (S. lateriflora), Lamiaceae)  - skullcap - has been traditionally used by North American Indians as a nerve tonic and for its sedative and diuretic properties. Recent reports stated that flavonoids and possibly amino acids are responsible for the skullcap anxiolytic activity. As a part of our search for environmentally friendly solvents to extract the active components from medicinal plants, we used skullcap in a comparison of accelerated solvent extraction (ASE) using water, and supercritical fluid extraction (SFE) using CO2 and 10% EtOH as modifier, at different temperatures. Flavonoids and amino acids were quantified by HPLC-UV and HPLC-MS, respectively. The skullcap flavonoid content was compared with conventional extraction methods (hot water extraction and 70% ethanol). The use of ASE at 85 degrees C with water as solvent gave the best results for flavonoid glycosides and amino acids, whereas SFE gave higher yields of flavonoid aglycones. However, the results obtained for total skullcap flavonoids were not significatively superior to hot water extraction or 70% aqueous EtOH extract.

Herbal treatment following post-seizure induction in rat by lithium pilocarpine: Scutellaria lateriflora ( Skullcap ), Gelsemium sempervirens (Gelsemium) and Datura stramonium (Jimson Weed) may prevent development of spontaneous seizures.
Phytother Res. 2004.
About 1 week after the induction of status epilepticus in male rats by a single systemic injection of lithium (3 mEq/kg) and pilocarpine (30 g/kg), rats were continuously administered one of three herbal treatments through the water supply for 30 days. A fourth group received colloidal minerals and diluted food grade hydrogen peroxide in tap water, while a fifth group of rats received only tap water (control). Herbal treatments were selected for their historical antiseizure activities and sedative actions on the nervous system. The numbers of spontaneous seizures per day during a 15 min observation interval were recorded for each rat during the treatment period and during an additional 30 days when only tap water was given. Rats that received a weak solution of the three herbal fluid extracts of Scutellaria lateri flora ( Skullcap ), Gelsemium sempervirens (Gelsemium) and Datura stramonium (Jimson Weed) displayed no seizures during treatment while all the other groups were not seizure-free. However, when this treatment was removed, the rats in this group displayed numbers of spontaneous seizures comparable to the controls. Although there is no proof that herbal remedies can control limbic or temporal lobe epilepsy, the results of this experiment strongly suggest that the appropriate combination of herbal compounds may be helpful as adjunctive interventions.

Phytochemical and biological analysis of skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora): a medicinal plant with anxiolytic properties.
Phytomedicine. 2003.
The phytochemistry and biological activity of Scutellaria lateriflora ( American skullcap ) which has been traditionally used as a sedative and to treat various nervous disorders such as anxiety was studied. In vivo animal behaviour trials were performed to test anxiolytic effects in rats orally administered S. laterifolia extracts. Significant increases in the number of entries into the center of an "open-field arena"; number of unprotected head dips, number of entries and the length of time spent on the open arms of the Elevated Plus-Maze were found. The identification and quantification of the flavonoid, baicalin in a 50% EtOH extract (40 mg/g) and its aglycone baicalein in a 95% EtOH extract (33 mg/g), as well as the amino acids GABA in H2O and EtOH extracts (approximately 1.6 mg/g) and glutamine in a H2O extract (31 mg/g), was performed using HPLC. These compounds may play a role in anxiolytic activity since baicalin and baicalein are known to bind to the benzodiazepine site of the GABAA receptor and since GABA is the main inhibitory neurotransmitter. Skullcap herb.

Discrimination among three species of medicinal Scutellaria plants  - skullcap - using RAPD markers.
Planta Med. 2000.
An analysis of random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) was performed using nine accessions of three species of medicinal plants in the genus Scutellaria (S. galericulata, S. lateriflora and S. baicalensis; known collectively as skullcap) in an effort to distinguish between members of these three species. Dried aerial parts of the two species S. galericulata and S. lateriflora are difficult to distinguish morphologically. Ten arbitrary primers produced 92 fragments, and eight of the primers yielded 23 species-specific fragments among the three species. Six fragments were specific for S. galericulata, seven for S. lateriflora and ten for S. baicalensis. When primers A02 and A06 were used in the polymerase chain reaction, RAPD fragments that were specific for each of the three species were generated simultaneously. Primer A02 produced five species-specific fragments: one was specific for S. galericulata; two for S. lateriflora; and two for S. baicalensis. Primer A06 produced three species-specific fragments: one for S. galericulata; one for S. lateriflora; and one for S. baicalensis. The RAPD markers that were generated with these two primers should rapidly identify members of the three species of Scutellaria. The consistency of the identifications made with these species-specific RAPD markers was demonstrated by the observation that each respective marker was generated from three accessions of each species, all with different origins. Furthermore, cluster analysis using the 92 RAPD fragments produced a dendrogram of genetic relatedness that was in good agreement with the taxonomic designations of the three species. Thus, the RAPD markers should be useful for the future identification of members of the three species of medicinal Scutellaria plants.

Scutellaria baicalensis - Baikal skullcap
Baicalein protects rat cardiomyocytes from hypoxia/reoxygenation damage via a prooxidant mechanism.
Cardiovasc Res. 2005.
Baicalin and its aglycone baicalein are the major flavonoid components of the root of Scutellaria baicalensis skullcap. Recent studies have shown that they can attenuate oxidative stress in various in vitro models as they possess potent antioxidant activities. This study investigated alternative protective mechanisms of baicalein in a cardiomyocyte model. Neonatal rat cardiomyocytes pretreated with the test compound were subjected to hypoxia/reoxygenation. The extent of cellular damage was accessed by the amount of released lactate dehydrogenase Pretreatment with baicalein reduced lactate dehydrogenase release significantly, while pretreatment with baicalin up to 100 microM was ineffective. The cardioprotective effect of baicalein is not due to its antioxidant effect, because an adverse effect rather than a protective effect was observed when baicalein was present during hypoxia. Cotreatment with N-acetylcysteine attenuated the protective effect of baicalein and concomitantly increased intracellular reactive oxygen species level and the cytotoxic effect of baicalein, but N-acetylcysteine alone did not have such effects. In addition, cotreatment with catalase, but not superoxide dismutase or mannitol, reversed the cardioprotective effect of baicalein, suggesting the involvement of hydrogen peroxide in the cardioprotective mechanism. The NAD(P)H:quinone oxidoreductase inhibitors dicoumarol and chrysin also abolished the cardioprotective effect of baicalein. While pretreatment with baicalein did not increase antioxidant enzyme activities, it alleviated calcium accumulation in cardiomyocytes undergoing simulated ischemia. These results highlight the important role of hydrogen peroxide produced during the auto-oxidation of baicalein in the cardioprotective effect of baicalein.

Experimental study on anti-pyretic effect of gegen qin lian decoction and its compounds.
To investigate composition principles of Gegen Qin Lian decoction through anti-pyretic experiment. Pharmacological effects of different compounds of Gegen Qin Lian decoction according to six hours temperature response index (TRI6) and average top temperature response height (deltaT) after the decoction was given to feverish animal model by inactived bacteria suspension. As for reducing six hour temperature response index, Scutellaria baicalensis root was the main effective drug. Pueraria lobata root could enforce the effect while Coptis chinensis rhizome and Glycyrrhiza uralensis root counteracted it. As for reducing average top temperature response height, the Effects of four herbal drugs were the same as for TRI6. Of the compounds of Gegen Qin Lian decoction, as to the pharmcological anti-pyretic effects, the best one is the compound of Scutellaria baicalensis - skullcap - and Pueraria lobata roots.

Structure-activity relationships of flavonoids, isolated from Scutellaria baicalensis - skullcap - binding to benzodiazepine site of GABA(A) receptor complex.
Planta Med. 2002.
Twenty-six flavonoids were isolated from Skullcap. Their affinities for the benzodiazepine (BDZ) binding site of GABA A receptor have been studied using [ 3H]flunitrazepam binding to rat cortical membranes in vitro. The structure-activity relationships suggested that 2'-OH flavones exhibited the most potent binding affinity, which could lead to the design and discovery of new BDZ receptor ligands.

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