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Skullcap

What is it?

Skullcap is an herbal medicine used to treat anxiety, stress, and irritable bowel symptoms. No human studies have been done about the use of Skullcap for these conditions.

Other names for Skullcap include: Scutellaria lateriflora L, Mad Dog Skullcap, Helmet Flower, Hoodwort, Quaker Bonnet, Cutellaria, Virginia Skullcap, and Scullcap.

Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist if you need more information about this medicine or if any information in this leaflet concerns you.

Before Using:

Tell your doctor if you

  • are taking medicine or are allergic to any medicine (prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) or dietary supplement)
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medicine
  • are breastfeeding
  • have liver problems
  • have any other health problems, such as high blood pressure or heart or blood vessel disease

Dosage:

Talk with your caregiver about how much Skullcap you should take. The amount depends on the strength of the medicine and the reason you are taking Skullcap. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the medicine bottle. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to.

To store this medicine:

Keep all medicine locked up and away from children. Store medicine away from heat and direct light. Do not store your medicine in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink, or in other damp places. Heat or moisture may cause the medicine to break down and not work the way it should work. Throw away medicine that is out of date or that you do not need. Never share your medicine with others.

Drug and Food Interactions:

Do not take Skullcap without talking to your doctor first if you are taking:

  • Medicine to help you sleep or relax (examples: alprazolam (Xanax(R)), diazepam (Valium(R)), lorazepam (Ativan(R)))
  • Blood thinning medicine (examples: aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix(R)), ticlopidine (Ticlid(R)), warfarin (Coumadin(R)), enoxaparin (Lovenox(R)))
  • Medicine used to lower cholesterol (examples: simvastatin (Zocor(R)); atorvastatin (Lipitor(R))
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol(R), also found in many cough and cold medicines)
  • Amiodarone (Cordarone(R))
  • Medicines used to treat some types of cancer (Carmustine (BiCNU(R)); Mercaptopurine (Purinethol(R))
  • Medicine used to replace male hormones (Methyltestosterone (Android(R)); Testosterone (Androderm(R), Testoderm(R))
  • Methotrexate (Folex(R), Rheumatrex(R))
  • Medicine used to treat infection (Itraconazole (Sporanox(R)); Ketoconazole (Nizoral(R)); Terbinafine (Lamisil(R)))
  • Valproic acid (Depacon(R), Depakene(R), Depakote(R)))

Warnings:

  • Before taking Skullcap, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Skullcap may harm the liver so people with liver damage should not take this herb (2)

Side Effects:

Stop taking your medicine right away and talk to your doctor if you have any of the following side effects. Your medicine may be causing these symptoms which may mean you are allergic to it.

  • Breathing problems or tightness in your throat or chest
  • Chest pain
  • Skin hives, rash, or itchy or swollen skin

Other Side Effects:

You may have the following side effects, but this medicine may also cause other side effects. Tell your doctor if you have side effects that you think are caused by this medicine.

  • Large amounts of Skullcap has caused severe drowsiness, giddiness, confusion, pulse (heart rate) changes, and seizures (uncontrolled shaking)
  • There have been reports of liver damage in products that have Skullcap and other herbs in them. It is not clear if the liver damage was due to Skullcap or another herb.

References:

1. Anon: British Herbal Pharmacopoeia. British Herbal Medicine Association, Keighley, UK; 1983.

2. Newall CA, Anderson LA & Phillipson JD: Herbal Medicines. A Guide for Health-care Professionals. Pharmaceutical Press, London, UK; 1996.

3. de Smet, PAGM et al (eds): Adverse Effects of Herbal Drugs 2. Springer-Verlag, New York, NY; 1993.

4. Perharic L et al: Toxicological problems resulting from exposure to traditional remedies and food supplements. Drug Safety 1994; 11:284-294.

5. Fetrow CW & Avila JR: Professional's Handbook of Complementary and Alternative Medicines. Springhouse Corporation, Springhouse, PA; 1999: 600-602.

6. Hui KM, Wang XH & Xue H: Interaction of flavones from the roots of Scutellaria baicalensis with the benzodiazepine site. Planta Med 2000; 66(1): 91-93.

7. Kubo M, Matsuda H, Tani T et al: Studies on Scutellariae radix. XII. Anti-thrombic actions of various flavonoids from Scutellariae radix. Chem Pharm Bull 1985; 33(6):2411-2415.

8. MacGregor FB, Abernethy VE, Dahabra S et al: Hepatotoxicity of herbal remedies. British Med J 1989; 299:1156-1157.


Last Updated: 11/4/2014

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