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Scutellaria lateriflora


Scutellaria lateriflora 


No documentation

Vernacular Name

Scutellaria, American Skull Cap, Blue pimpernel, Blue skull cap, Helmet flower, Hood-wort, Mad-dog weed, Quaker Side flower, Sideflower, Skull Cap Helmet Flower, Virginian Scullcap


There are over 300 species of Scutellaria, several of which have medicinal properties. Scutellaria lateriflora is an herb that is used medicinally in many parts of the world and is considered to be a drug in some countries. It has prominent status in China and Japan as used in traditional medicine to treat conditions ranging from viral infections to cancer.

S. lateriflora is densely covered in simple and glandular hairs and the thin stems are heavily branched and grow purple in heavy sun.  The light green leaves range between ovate and lanceolate, and have rounded teeth on the edges.  The flowers rarely grow from the main stem, instead growing of the side stems all the way up the height of the plant.  Blooming between the months of July and September, the small blue or pink flowers droop of the side of the stems from which they grow, hence the common name “Sideflower”.  The flowers grow to measure 2cm in length and are divided into two lips, the lower having a shape resembling as a helmet.

Origin / Habitat

S. lateriflora is a hardy perennial herb found native to almost all moist climates of North America, including some of the northernmost territories of the continent.  Flourishing best in moist areas such as fens, shorelines and moist ditches, S. lateriflora is a relatively small plant, growing to a height of a little over half a meter, though rarely some can grow up to measure 1m in height.

Chemical Constituents

Dihydropyranocoumarins, Flavonoids (baicalin, baicalein and wogonin), Lignin, Magnesium, N-Hentriacontane, N-Nonacosane, N-Pentatriacontane, N-Tritriacontane, Potassium, Scutellarin, dihydrochrysin, dihydrooroxylin A, lupenol, scutellaric acid, pomolic acid, ursolic acid, beta-sitosterol, daucosterol, and palmitic acid Tannins. [2],[3],[4],[5],[6]

Plant Part Used

Whole plant

Medicinal Uses


Anxiety and related symptoms


Stress related symptoms such as sleeplessness


Menstrual irregularity

Cancer therapy (TCM)

Most Frequently Reported Uses

Anxiety and related symptoms


Stress related symptoms such as sleeplessness



Dosage Range

Liquid Extract- 850-1250mL for 3 times a day. [1]


Most Common Dosage

No documentation


Standardized to

No documentation



S. lateriflora is thought to be a hepatotoxic agent.  This determination was originally due to several case reports of mixtures containing S. lateriflora that resulted in its being removed from the market in some countries.[7] Since the herb was used in a formulation, it remains unknown as to whether or not the resulting hepatotoxicity was due to S. lateriflora. The subsequent laboratory analysis has investigated these properties and identified the potential adulterant responsible for the noted activity.[8]


The numerous studies have examined S. lateriflora and its constituents for antioxidant properties.  In a laboratory study, 47 botanicals were evaluated for their in vitro toxic or antioxidant effects in an effort to determine if they had therapeutic value in instances of renal fibrosis involving oxidative stress.  Several of the herbs examined, including S. lateriflora, demonstrated strong antioxidant activity in epithelial cells.[9] These findings support earlier studies supporting the antioxidant properties of this herb.[10]

S. lateriflora is regularly marketed for its anxiolytic activity and there are numerous anecdotal reports of its use as a calming agent in anxiety.  In an animal model, extracts of S. lateriflora were evaluated for their anxiolytic properties and it was found that two constituents of S. lateriflora, baicalin and baicalein, bind to the benzodiazepine site of the GABAA receptor.[11] In a small human study, S. lateriflora was determined to have “noteworthy” anxiolytic activity.[12]

The additional research on properties of S. lateriflora includes investigations into its anti-seizure activity in animal models and preliminary investigations into its anti-tumor potential. [13],[14],[15]


No documentation

Interaction and Depletions

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation

Interaction with Drugs

Based on pharmacology, this herb should not be used in combination with any psychotropic medications.


In Japanese Kampo medicine, S. lateriflora is considered a drug and has been determined to have side effects and interactions with other Kampo medicines which result in interstitial pneumonia and hepatoxicity.[16]


S. lateriflora should not be used in combination with any prescription drug therapy as many of the pharmacological activities of this herb remain unknown.


Precautions and Contraindications

Side effects

No documentation


Based on anecdotal reports and traditional use, this herb should not to be used by pregnant or nursing women unless under full supervision of a professional.

Age limitation

Not to be used with children.

Adverse reaction

No documentation

Read More

  1)  Native American Herbs


  1. Duke JA.  The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook. New York, New York: St. Martin’s Paperbacks;1998.
  2. Bruneton J. Pharmacognosy: Phytochemistry, Medicinal Plants.2nd Ed. FR: Lavoisier Publishing;1992. 652.
  3. Pedersen, M. Nutritional Herbology. Bountiful, Utah: Pederson Publishing; 1987.377.
  4. List, P.H. and Horhammer, L., Hager's. Handbuch der Pharmazeutischen Praxis, Vols. 2-6, . Berlin: Springer-Verlag;1969-1979.
  5. Gao J, Sanchez-Medina A, Pendry BA, Hughes MJ, Webb GP, Corcoran O.Validation of a HPLC method for flavonoid biomarkers in Scutellaria (Scutellaria) and its use to illustrate wide variability in the quality of commercial tinctures. J Pharm Pharm Sci. 2008;11(1):77-87.
  6. Li J, Ding Y, Li XC, Ferreira D, Khan S, Smillie T, Khan IA. Scuteflorins A and B, dihydropyranocoumarins from Scutellaria lateriflora. J Nat Prod. Jun2009;72(6):983-987.
  7. Bruneton J. Pharmacognosy: Phytochemistry, Medicinal Plants.2nd Ed. FR: Lavoisier Publishing;1992. 652.
  8. Lin LZ, Harnly JM, Upton R. Comparison of the phenolic component profiles of Scutellaria (Scutellaria lateriflora) and germander (Teucrium canadense and T. chamaedrys), a potentially hepatotoxic adulterant. Phytochem Anal. Jul2009;20(4):298-306.
  9. Wojcikowski K, Wohlmuth H, Johnson DW, Rolfe M, Gobe G.An in vitro investigation of herbs traditionally used for kidney and urinary system disorders: potential therapeutic and toxic effects. Nephrology (Carlton). Feb2009;14(1):70-79.
  10. Wojcikowski K, Stevenson L, Leach D, Wohlmuth H, Gobe G.Antioxidant capacity of 55 medicinal herbs traditionally used to treat the urinary system: a comparison using a sequential three-solvent extraction process. J Altern Complement Med. Jan-Feb2007;13(1):103-109.
  11. Awad R, Arnason JT, Trudeau V, Bergeron C, Budzinski JW, Foster BC, Merali Z. Phytochemical and biological analysis of Scutellaria (Scutellaria lateriflora L.): a medicinal plant with anxiolytic properties. Phytomedicine. Nov2003;10(8):640-649.
  12. Wolfson P, Hoffmann DL.An investigation into the efficacy of Scutellaria lateriflora in healthy volunteers. Altern Ther Health Med. Mar-Apr2003;9(2):74-78.
  13. Zhang Z, Lian XY, Li S, Stringer JL.Characterization of chemical ingredients and anticonvulsant activity of American Scutellaria (Scutellaria lateriflora). Phytomedicine. May2009;16(5):485-493.
  14. Peredery O, Persinger MA.Herbal treatment following post-seizure induction in rat by lithium pilocarpine: Scutellaria lateriflora (Scutellaria), Gelsemium sempervirens (Gelsemium) and Datura stramonium (Jimson Weed) may prevent development of spontaneous seizures. Phytother Res. Sep 2004;18(9):700-705.
  15. Parajuli P, Joshee N,  Rimando AM, Mittal S,  Yadav AK.In vitro Antitumor Mechanisms of Various Scutellaria Extracts and Constituent Flavonoids . Pharmacology Planta Med. 2009; 75: 41-48.
  16. Makino T, Hishida A, Goda Y, Mizukami H.Comparison of the major flavonoid content of S. baicalensis, S. lateriflora, and their commercial products. Nat Med (Tokyo). Jul2008;62(3):294-299.

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