This is not an article about the benefits of Jewish headwear – though you might argue they’re quite stylish. Rather this is an article on the ‘skullcap’ herb which is used to make a kind of tea called ‘skullcap tea’. The technical name for skullcap is of course not skullcap but rather ‘lateriflora’ which comes in both Chinese and American forms. These contain very different components and are used very differently. Here we will look at both.
American skullcap has long been used in North America for anxiety and the promotion of relaxation. Skullcap is ideal to take before a nightcap so that you are wearing as many ‘caps’ as possible… One study found that blue skullcap and common skullcap when used in herbal tea could have an anxiety reducing effect across 19 volunteers.
These sedative effects are a natural way to aid sleep, but should not be taken alongside other sedatives or anti-anxiety drugs. For instance you should not use skullcap alongside antidepressants or anticonvulsants.
Chinese skullcap meanwhile has been used to help treat a large number of conditions and has been shown to be a useful anti-inflammatory. Thus it might be a soothing drink for those with conditions such as arthritis and bowel diseases which cause uncomfortable inflammation.
It has also been implicated in the treatment of cancer where it has been used in China historically. A recent study demonstrated that the tea may help to induce apoptosis in certain cancerous cells (cell death) which could potentially be beneficial in treating various cases. However it’s important to note that in different cancers the cells react differently and it is never advisable to attempt to self-medicate for cancer. Over 295 compounds have been isolated from scutellaria, which include flavonoids and antioxidants. However, with over 350 different species of skullcap it would be hard to know if you were using a genuine product. Speak to your doctor, and if you are interested ask them about the tea.
In general, and for now, the tea is best used as a relaxant and a herbal alternative to caffeine rich black tea – which might also have some added anti-cancer properties.