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Introduction

The leaves and stem of Baikal skullcap have been used to ease feelings of anxiety and sleeplessness and to lower swelling in the body. Skullcap has been taken with Acacia catechu, or katha, to ease swelling of the joints. Skullcap can be taken as a pill, powder, or extract. It can also be made into a tea.

Dosages

500 milligrams 2 to 3 times daily

What Research Shows

May Be Effective

  • Anxiety —may ease feelings of anxiety A1, A2
  • Knee osteoarthritis —may reduce symptoms when Baikal skullcap is taken with Acacia catechu B1, B2

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Safety Notes

It is likely safe to take skullcap in small doses for a short time, but damage to the liver is possible.C1, C2 People with liver problems should not take skullcap. Not enough studies have been done to say whether it is safe to take for a long period. It is also not known whether it is safe to take by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Interactions

Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse such as:

  • People taking medicine for anxiety should talk to their doctor before taking skullcap. It may overwhelm the body.
  • People taking blood thinners should talk to their doctor before taking skullcap. It may increase the risk of bleeding.
 

References

A. Anxiety

A1. Sarris J. Herbal medicines in the treatment of psychiatric disorders: a systematic review. Phytother Res. 2007 Aug;21(8):703-716.

A2. Savage K, Firth J, et al. GABA-modulating phytomedicines for anxiety: A systematic review of preclinical and clinical evidence. Phytother Res. 2018 Jan;32(1):3-18.

B. Osteoarthritis

B1. Levy RM, Saikovsky R, et al. Flavocoxid is as effective as naproxen for managing the signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee in humans: a short term randomized, double-blind pilot study. Nutr Res. 2009;29(5):298-304.

B2. Arjmandi BH, Ormsbee LT, et al. A combination of Scutellaria baicalensis and Acacia catechu extracts for short-term symptomatic relief of joint discomfort associated with osteoarthritis of the knee. J Med Food. 2014;17(6):707-713.

C. Safety

C1. Linnebur SA, Rapacchietta OC, et al. Hepatotoxicity associated with Chinese skullcap contained in Move Free Advanced dietary supplement: two case reports and review of the literature. Pharmacotherapy. 2010 Jul;30(7):750, 258e-262e.

C2. Bunchorntavakul C, Reddy KR. Review article: herbal and dietary supplement hepatotoxicity. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2013 Jan;37(1):3-17.

Last reviewed July 2019 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC  Last Updated: 3/27/2020