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Skullcap: The Anti-Anxiety Herb!

Skullcap (sometimes spelled scullcap) is the common name for Scutellaria, a genus of flowering plants in the mint family. Supplementing with skullcap may provide several benefits, though research in most of these areas is limited.

American skullcap has been shown to boost mood and reduce symptoms of anxiety. A study in 43 people found that those who received 1,050 mg of American skullcap daily for 2 weeks reported significant enhancements in mood compared to a placebo group. It’s thought that American skullcap positively impacts mood and reduces anxiety by stimulating gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that helps calm nerves. Notably, this plant was used in traditional medicine practices as a sedative and treatment for conditions like insomnia and anxiety. In fact, many anti-anxiety medications work similarly by enhancing GABA activity.

American skullcap contains an array of beneficial plant compounds, including antioxidants, which have anti-inflammatory effects and protect your cells from damage caused by molecules called free radicals. Oxidative stress, which results from an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants, is linked to a number of chronic conditions, such as certain cancers and heart disease. Notably, baicalin, a flavonoid antioxidant in both American and Chinese skullcap, has demonstrated powerful anticancer effects and may help combat oxidative stress.

Skullcap has been linked to several other benefits, including:

  • Anticonvulsant effects. Orally supplementing with American skullcap has been shown to have anticonvulsant effects in rodents.

  • Insomnia. Baicalin, a compound found in both American and Chinese skullcap, is used to treat insomnia in traditional medicine practices. However, research is lacking.

  • Neurodegenerative disease. So me test-tube studies suggest that American skullcap may have neuroprotective properties, potentially safeguarding against diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

  • Heart health. In one animal study, baicalin injections significantly reduced damage associated with an induced heart attack.

Although these effects are promising, more research is needed to determine whether skullcap is an effective treatment for these conditions. Always consult your physician before trying any new medication, herbal or otherwise.

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