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Skullcap Root

Veterinarian Reviewed on June 5, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Uncategorized

Skullcap Root (Radix Scutellaria)

The Skullcap Root, or Radix scutellariae, is an East Asian plant that bears the Chinese name of Huang Qin. It thrives in sunny slopes, high elevations and dry, sandy to rocky soils. Aside from its ability to produce beautiful violet flowers, the plant is also known for its numerous medicinal and nutritional uses.


Skullcap Root is a plant native to countries in Eastern Asia. It has a long history of being a potent traditional medicine in Chinese culture. Almost all of the plant parts are utilized as medicine by Chinese traditions, and even up until today, it is being used for the same purposes.

Eastern Uses

The Skullcap Root is mainly used as a traditional medicine by the Chinese. Although all the parts of the plant are used as a medicine, the Chinese believe that it is the root that contains a higher concentration of potent ingredients and therefore, is given more focus in medicine making than the rest of the plant parts. Traditional Chinese medicine made use of plant extracts and even dried parts of the plant, consumed or added on to the food to cure various kinds of diseases and ailments.

Modern Western Uses

Today, Skullcap Root is now known to treat rabies, earning its name, “the mad dog weed”. Aside from that, modern tests have discovered that the plant actually contains a high concentration of antioxidants, which are substances that counter the harmful effects of free radicals in the body. It is also known to improve the body’s immune system. The plant is now a popular herbal medicine and is sold in many herbal stores in various parts of the world. A lot of people are claiming that there are many more things that the plant can do, but are still yet to be subjected to clinical tests and studies. Skullcap Root removes excess heat from the body, whilst simultaneously moisturizing dryness. It also encourages the production of bodily fluids, as well as detoxifying the body too.

What Form It Is Available In

The Skullcap Root is now being sold as a dry herb in many stores. Others place the dried herbs inside capsules for more precise dosage and concentration per intake. But a word of caution: you may not be sure of the contents when purchasing readymade capsules so it is highly recommended that if you do want to take the herb in more controlled dosages, then you can simply put dried herbs inside the capsules yourself (empty capsules shells are now easily available in stores today). Skullcap Root is also sold as an ingredient in many holistic herbal remedies.

Side Effects or Cautions

Use of the herb in large doses has been reported to cause drowsiness in some people. Other users also claim to have lung inflammation and fever. But still, these claims have never been subjected to scientific and medical studies and therefore, are not conclusive on whether such symptoms and conditions were caused entirely by the plant and not by some other factors. The lack of clinical tests makes it unsafe to use for immunocompromised patients, people with pre-existing medical conditions, pregnant or breastfeeding mothers, and even children. Long term use should be done with the guidance of a physician.

Up until today, studies are still being conducted on the benefits and the dangers that are associated with the use Skullcap Root. So what is the safest thing to do? The best answer would be to accompany the use of the herb with professional medical advice at all times.

Read also: Calendula Officinalis

Our Expert

Paulina Nelega, RH
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan

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