If you are familiar with the skullcap herb, but forget where in the world it is indigenous to, there might be a simple explanation. There are two major strains of the herb; one from North America and another from China and Eastern Asia. These respective strains are referred to as American skullcap and Chinese skullcap.
Both species are similar physically in that they have purple or blue flowers. However, when used for medical purposes, it is the leaves of American skullcap as opposed to the roots of Chinese skullcap that are prepared. The respective plants are also used for different health purposes.
Most research regarding the potential health benefits of the skullcap herb has been for Chinese skullcap. Though many products do contain American skullcap. Both strains of skullcap have the potential to support your health. Let’s take a look at some of those.
Nervous System Support from American Skullcap
While completely unavoidable, daily stress can lead to a wide range of health complications if gone unchecked. Thankfully, herbs like American skullcap have been touted as offering some reprieve from the wear and tear stress can cause to your nervous system. The herb is thought to have a soothing effect on the nervous system. The phenolic compounds found in a cup of skullcap tea have been found by some to release endorphins and help to regulate the balance of hormones in the body.
Some consider the skullcap herb to be a tonic for nervous system health. It’s thought to encourage proper electrical activity and functioning of the brain. While there aren’t as many comprehensive studies focused on American skullcap as there are on Chinese skullcap, there are studies which point to American skullcap’s potential to benefit the nervous system.
Your nervous system’s health is related to your cognitive health. Skullcap has been suggested as an herb that can potentially benefit cognitive health. A number of studies have shown that skullcap, alone or in combination with other herbs, may support cognitive health. While studies on this strain of skullcap haven’t been extensive, it is understood that 12 phenolic compounds, including ten flavonoids and two phenylethanoid glycosides, are responsible for most of the herb’s health benefits. Notably, some of the studies which connect skullcap with cognitive health indicate no reduction in energy.
Circulatory System Support from Chinese Skullcap
One of the areas where Chinese skullcap is thought to promote health is in circulatory function. The herb is thought to help keep cholesterol at a desirable level. Heart complications occur much more frequently when cholesterol levels are not optimal. Often these health challenges occur when there has been a buildup of plaque in the arteries.
One of the ways Chinese skullcap is said to support the circulatory system is by helping to maintain nitric oxide levels in the blood. Nitric oxide (NO) is an important element for the regulation of blood pressure levels. When NO levels are not optimal, the circulatory system can be compromised. Nitric oxide plays the important role in helping to form the lining inside of vessels and arteries that allow for vasodilation (expansion and contraction), which is important for helping to maintain blood pressure levels already within the normal range.
It is also thought that Baicalin supplements, such as Chinese skullcap, may support healthy fat levels in the blood. An animal study found that livers of test subjects taking Baicalin with a high fat diet didn’t retain as much fat in the liver. These animals were also found to have lower cholesterol, as well as free fatty acid and insulin levels in their blood.
Skullcap is an herb that continues to be studied today. With its potential to support cognitive and cardiovascular health, it’s no wonder why. It’s more than a pretty flower with an aggressive name. Skullcap could be a boon for the important tissue your skull protects. A cup of tea from this root could even support your healthy heart.