The medicinal power of skullcap

Skullcap is originally present in Siberia, China and North America. Nowadays it is also grown in Europe and it grows 20 to 40 centimeters high. It blooms in summer; at the top the flower has a violet color and at the bottom it is blue. Skullcap is one of the 50 most used medicinal plants in Chinese medicine. It is called Huang qin in China. Skullcap has long been known to mankind as a medicinal herb. It is an anti-allergen, anti-inflammatory and has antibacterial properties. NB! This article is written from the personal view of the author and may contain information that is not scientifically substantiated and/or in line with the general view.

Scutellaria baicalensis / Source: Dalgial, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)


  • Traditional use
  • Naming
  • Active substances
  • Skullcap, good for the liver
  • Skullcap, an anti-allergen
  • Skullcap good for the brain
  • Dose and safety
  • Visit a doctor or herbal therapist

Traditional use

Skullcap has been a Chinese medicinal herb since at least the second century. It is used in China for cardiovascular diseases, chronic hepatitis or liver inflammation. It also increases appetite, strengthens liver function and reduces swelling. In addition, it helps the blood vessels and capillaries; It is used together with other medicinal plants to treat arteriosclerosis and high blood pressure, among other things. It is also traditionally prescribed for problems resulting from diabetes mellitus type 2, such as cataracts. Cough with a lot of mucus, high fevers and digestive problems such as diarrhea and dysentery are solved in folk medicine with skullcap. Nowadays it is more commonly prescribed in phytotherapy for asthma, hives, eczema and hay fever.


In Latin, skullcap is called Scutellaria baicalensis . Baical is the name of a lake in Siberia where this plant is found.

Active substances

The root of skullcap is used for phytotherapeutic purposes. The skullcap root contains the following important active substances: the flavonoids baicalein, wogonin, chrysin, oroxylin A and the skullcap flavones I and II.

Skullcap, good for the liver

Skullcap is an anti-inflammatory herb. It ensures that the production of lipoxygenase products is inhibited. Lipoxygenase plays a role in the metabolism of polyfatty acids. Cyclooxygenase products are also inhibited by skullcap. Cyclooxygenase is a process that causes inflammation and ultimately symptoms such as flu and fever. Lipid peroxidation in the liver is inhibited by skullcap. This means that the liver will function better again. In phytotherapy it is used for the following indications:

  • Jaundice,
  • Chronic hepatitis,
  • Swollen abdomen,
  • Lack of appetite.

Skullcap, an anti-allergen

  • Skullcap has an anti-allergic effect. It can be used for food allergies and food intolerances.
  • It can also be used for respiratory allergies and hay fever.
  • Skullcap has a calming effect and promotes sleep. This is mainly because the flavones wogonin and baicalein bind to the GABA receptors.

Skullcap good for the brain

Woginine and oroxylin A prevent inflammation in brain cells. This is why skullcap is attributed a neuroprotective or brain cell protective effect. It supports learning processes and reduces the risk of amnesia or forgetfulness. It can be used, among other things, as a medicinal plant that prevents neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis and dementia, according to recent scientific research.

Skullcap / Source: Dalgial, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)

Dose and safety

A daily dose of 5 to 8 grams of skullcap is prescribed. This medicinal plant is safe to use. There are very few side effects or contraindications. There may be interactions with substances that alter the clotting of the blood (platelet aggregation).

Visit a doctor or herbal therapist

Much of the information about the medicinal plant mentioned in this article comes from the book Groot Handboek Medicinal Plants by Geert Verhelst. That is a handbook in phytotherapy. However, it is not suitable for self-healing. Anyone who suffers from something should consult a doctor or herbal therapist for a good diagnosis and choice of the best remedies, tailored to your personal situation. The knowledge and science mentioned here is of a purely informative nature.