1. May Help Fight Cancer Cells
Research shows that Chinese skullcap extract is toxic to cancer cells, such as brain tumor cells, prostate cancer cells, and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma cell lines. Studies indicate that aqueous extracts suppressed growth of lymphoma and myeloma cells.
It’s believed that certain flavones, which are antioxidants within the plant, are responsible for these anticancer effects, ultimately inhibiting the growth. This may happen due to the free radical scavenging characteristics it contains, which prevents viral infections.
One of these flavones is known as baicalein. In a study published in the Beijing Science Bulletin, it appeared as though the baicalein did not cause any mutations, which is a serious problem of many conventional anticancer drugs available today. (1)
Another study published in the International Journal of Molecular Medicine notes that fibrosarcoma is an aggressive and highly metastatic cancer of the connective tissue. This study investigated the effects of the extract from skullcap on fibrosarcoma and showed possible anticancer characteristics. The rate at which cancer cells grew was significantly suppressed by treatment through apoptosis, and the volume and weight of tumors were greatly reduced as well. It appears as though the plant helped prevent further inhibition and migration of cancer cells, indicating its potential as a natural cancer treatment. (2)
2. Calms Anxiety as a Nerve Tonic
For more than two centuries, American skullcap has been used by both Americans and Europeans as a nerve tonic to help treat anxiety. Studies have shown that the plant contains “anxiolytic activity” in animals and humans.
Oxidative stress affects some brain-related diseases, such as anxiety, Alzheimer’s disease, depression and Parkinson’s disease, yet research indicates that bioactive compounds found in medicinal plants, such as skullcap, may neutralize and even eliminate toxic free radicals. When this occurs, oxidative stress is greatly reduced. Skullcap may provide significant antioxidant effects, which could make it a great option for reducing anxiety. (3)
3. Reduces Inflammation
Chinese scutellaria has some pretty effective anti-inflammatory properties. Many who suffer with arthritis and inflammatory bowel diseases are known for using skullcap as a home remedy. According to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, studies have shown benefits to those who have Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease due to its anti-inflammatory effects. (4)
4. Can Help You Get Some Shut-Eye
While skullcap may help with anxiety, it also can help those who experience insomnia and other sleeping problems, such as restlessness, muscle tension and clenching the jaws. A skullcap tea or tincture could be useful before bed to help you relax, ward off any anxiety and give you some well-deserved and much-needed sleep. (5)
5. Reduces Risk of Heart Disease
A recent study aimed to investigate the cardioprotective effects of baicalein, which comes from the roots of Scutellaria baicalensis and Scutellaria lateriflora. Subjects were injected with isoproterenol(ISO), which induced acute myocardial infarction. Pretreatment with baicalein greatly reversed alterations induced by the ISO with results showing higher levels of antioxidant defense enzymes. Overall, the study revealed cardioprotective effects of baicalein, giving evidence that pretreatment could prevent, and possibly terminate, some heart disease conditions, such as myocardial infarction. (6)
6. Lowers Fever Caused from the Flu
According to a 2014 study by the Korean Food Research Institute, skullcap may help reduce fever. Tests were conducted by administering the herb to subjects who had a food allergy. Temperature was monitored, and results indicated that the group given the skullcap demonstrated a drop in body temperature. (7)
Studies also indicate that some severe cases of illness involving fever may be treated with skullcap. Combined with other medicinal herbs, such as fried bitter apricot seeds and unprocessed rhubarb, it’s been shown to help reduce high fever, cough and shortness of breath while reducing heart palpitations, anxiety and irritation. (8)
7. May Treat Epilepsy and Reduce Muscle Spasms
Research shows that Ayurveda techniques and treatments using herbal medicine, such as skullcap, may be helpful in treating epilepsy. Specifically, skullcap Ramayana #16 is an Ayurvedic herbal preparation that’s been reported as being used for epilepsy treatment. In addition, 18 healing Ayurvedicingredients were combined using a base of honey and herbal ghee. This cocktail of herbal ingredients evidently help to reduce tremors, muscle spasms, nerve-related symptoms and headaches, ultimately aiding in the treatment of side effects caused from epileptic patients. (9)
An animal study out of Laurentian University in Canada showed that skullcap may reduce the risk and occurrence of seizures. Male rats were given skullcap for a period of time after being diagnosed with epilepsy and did not have seizures, while those not given the herb did. Interestingly, when the treatment was removed, seizures did occur. (10)