Skullcap is a herb that is used for medicinal purposes since several centuries. There are actually two types of skullcap herbs which include the American skullcap and the Chinese skullcap. The American skullcap, which has the scientific name Scutellaria lateriflora, is found in Canada and in the eastern and northern parts of United Sates of America. On the other hand, the Chinese skullcap, which is also called Baikal skullcap, is found majorly in south-east Asia and has the scientific name Scutellaria baicalensis. Both these herbs have been found to be an effective remedy to treat several health problems in human beings.
Skullcap herbs can be consumed by adding the dried herbs into one's tea and even in the form of capsules. The health benefits of this herb will depend on the type of herb you are consuming. In other words, the benefits of American and Chinese skullcap are totally different. Following are the advantages of using both these herbs respectively:
American Skullcap Benefits
This herb is used as a tranquilizer for treating neurological problems like tremors, convulsions, nervous tension, and anxiety. It has been found to reduce physical stress, anxiety, fatigue, panic, depression, headache, insomnia, etc. For best results, the herb is usually taken by mixing it with other calming herbs, especially herbs such as valerian. It is also one of the most effective way of treating severe depression. Apart from this, the herb is also administered to women who are suffering from the problems caused by Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS), like menstrual cramps.
Chinese Skullcap Benefits
This herb is commonly used for treating problems like infections, allergies, inflammations, headaches as well as antifungal and antiviral infections. It is also said to be an effective remedy for severe diseases like cancer as it is said to have cancer-fighting properties. Research has also found that the intake of this herb is a good way of reducing symptoms related to hypertension, diabetes, etc. However, most of these studies are done on animals, and hence, the scientists are not very sure of the effect of these herbs on human beings.
Although the benefits of skullcap are huge, there have been cases where people have experienced numerous side effects after consuming it. However, the problem here is that not much research is done on the side effects caused by this herb and the factors that trigger them. Following are the side effects of skullcap:
- People who use this herb may experience muscle ache during the initial few days, which begins to subside slowly.
- People have reported to have experienced mental confusion, giddiness, drowsiness, seizures, irregular heartbeat, etc., after consuming the American skullcap. These are serious side effects, and hence, it is important to consult your physician if you experience these problems.
- It has also been noted that some people develop allergic reactions while taking the skullcap herbal supplements. Some of the allergies that one may experience include breathing trouble, throat or mouth swelling, skin rash, itching, hives, wheezing, etc.
- Though Chinese skullcap herb is recommended for diabetics, it is also said that this should not be done without consulting a doctor. This is because Chinese skullcap can lower a person's blood sugar level, giving rise to the problem of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
- One of the most serious side effect is liver damage. One of the reasons for this is that these herbs are contaminated by another herb called Teucrium. As liver damage can be fatal for a person, it is important to know its symptoms at the earlier stages. Some of the symptoms of liver damage include the occurrence of jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin), elevated levels of liver enzymes, upper-right abdomen pain, etc.
As not much research has been done on the side effects of skullcap herbs, it is very important to take extreme precaution while taking these supplements. Pregnant women should not consume these herbs as they may have a harmful effect on the fetus. Moreover, one should consume these herbs only under the prescription given by the health practitioner to prevent serious complications.
Disclaimer: This HolisticZine article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.