› What is it?
Skullcap is a perennial flowering herb in the mint family. Various parts of skullcaps, such as their roots and leaves, have been used in traditional Chinese and Native American medicine to treat a variety of ailments, ranging from diarrhea to chronic pain. The plant is widely available in supplement form and purported to provide an array of health benefits, from boosting heart health to relieving anxiety.
› Health benefits
Boosts mood and reduces anxiety
It’s thought that American skullcap positively impacts mood and reduces anxiety by stimulating gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that helps calm nerves. In fact, many anti-anxiety medications work similarly by enhancing GABA activity. More research is needed.
Both American and Chinese skullcap contain 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. Further research is needed.
› How much do I need?
The appropriate dose depends on several factors such as the user’s age, health and several other conditions. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using. People with conditions that impact liver function should avoid this plant altogether.
› Dietary supplements
Skullcap is sold in capsules, powders and liquid extracts. Dried parts of the skullcap herb, such as its leaves, are likewise used to brew tea.
Please consult your health care provider before making changes to your vitamin/supplement regimen.