A picture of flowering skullcap in the wild.

Simon’s Skullcap (Scutellaria Lateriflora) Guide

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When talking about skullcap, it is important to address the issue of definition first. Skullcaps, in plural, refer to the genus Scutellaria in the mint family, Lamiaceae that contains around 300-400 species (there is no consensus).

However, when used in everyday language, skullcap or skullcap herb usually refers to the most popular and most extensively used species from the family Scutellaria lateriflora (American skullcap, blue skullcap, mad dog skullcap, or side-flowering skullcap). This is not to be confused with Scutellaria baicalensis (Chinese skullcap or Baikal skullcap), a herb used in traditional Chinese medicine, which is also sometimes referred to as skullcap. The latter has some potential health benefits (although not scientifically proven, only anecdotal evidence), but it does not produce any kind of “high”, and as this is a legal highs blog, I will not discuss it in this article.

Scutellaria lateriflora (referred to as “skullcap” or “skullcap herb” in this article), is a perennial herb growing 60 to 80 centimeters in maximum height. It has blue flowers, most of which do not appear at the top of the main stem, but are produced along the length of its branches. The skullcap herb is native to North America. The skullcap plant generally thrives in moist woodlands in the US and Canada, mainly.

Scutellaria lateriflora is used in herbal medicine as a mild sedative and sleeping aid. It, in fact has scientifically validated anti-anxiety effects, which were proven in two double blind, placebo-controlled studies of healthy subjects. Unofficial sources seem to confirm these findings. Many boast skullcap for its relaxing effects and claim, that a skullcap tea is the secret recipe for a good night’s sleep.

Skullcap also blends well with other herbs in a smoking potpourri as well as teas, and is reported to catalyse the effects of other plants in such mixes.



Interesting facts about skullcap:


The latin name of the genus, Scutellaria stems from the Latin word scutella meaning “a small dish, tray or platter”. It refers to the sepals which appear this way during the fruiting period.

The plant’s common name, skullcap describes the shape of the calyx at the base of the flowers, which resemble miniature medieval helmets.



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Skullcap guide




Skullcap – legal status


I didn’t find any traces online that suggested any existing restrictions on any species in the skullcaps genus anywhere in the world.

It is legal and available worldwide.

If you have any info suggesting that this might be not true, please share it in the comments section below!



Buy skullcap


You can order skullcap online freely from any country in the world. I recommend the following places.


Buy skullcap – US


A picture of the skullcap plant. You can order the dried herb from the US.
Buy Skullcap shipped from the US

I recommend buying skullcap herb at the following place (perfect for a skullcap tea, as well as for smoking):

Buy dried skullcap herb /shipped from the US, credit cards are accepted/



Buy skullcap – Europe, Netherlands


A picture of dried skullcap. You can order it from the Netherlands.
Buy dried skullcap from the Netherlands!

I recommend buying skullcap herb in Europe from here:

Buy skullcap here /shipped from the Netherlands/

Perfect for a skullcap tea or for smoking.



Main active ingredients in Scutellaria lateriflora


The Scutellaria lateriflora plant contains plenty of flavones, such as  baicalin, baicalein, wogonin, and oroxylin A. Some of these compounds have proven analgesic and anxiolytic effects.

The general molecular structure of the flavone backbone - the backbone of all flavone compounds, amongst them the ones associated with the anxiolytic effects of skullcap, namely baicalin, baicalein, wogonin, and oroxylin A.
Flavones – the main active ingredients in skullcap

It is also reported, that flavonoids easily extract from the plant in hot water.


The effects of the skullcap herb


The skullcap herb has scientifically proven anxiety reducing and mood enhancing effects.

In a small-scale double blind, placebo-controlled study skullcap has produced measurable anti anxiety effects on healthy subjects. 

Another study concluded, that on top of reducing anxiety, skullcap also significantly enhanced the global mood of subjects, without reducing their energy levels or impairing their cognitive abilities – in other words, not making them tired or drowsy, only relaxed and happy.

Skullcap tea reportedly induces the same effects. See the “trip reports” section for individual experiences with skullcap.


An investigation into the efficacy of Scutellaria lateriflora in healthy volunteers.

American Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora): A Randomised, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Crossover Study of its Effects on Mood in Healthy Volunteers


Skullcap – interactions


Skullcap reportedly blends well with other herbs when smoked, and in teas or concoctions. It is said to enhance the relaxing, sedative and anxiety reducing effects of other plants. Here are some herbs, that I came across in recipes while doing my research, that were reportedly enhanced by mixing them with skullcap:

  • Damiana
  • Nelumbo Nucifera (sacred lotus)
  • Nymphaea nouchali (blue lotus)
  • Leonotis Leonoru (wild dagga)
  • Catnip
  • Passion Flower
  • Lemon Balm
  • St. John’s Wort



Dangers of skullcap


Skullcap is generally considered safe. However, partly due to the lack of research, partly because that’s what common sense suggests, overly large doses and excessive use should be avoided (this is true to basically any herb under the sun). Skullcap overdose can cause symptoms such as giddiness, a feeling of confusion and extreme tiredness, stupor and also muscle twitches. On very rare occasions, seizures can occur for users who are susceptible to them.

As mentioned before, skullcap blends well with other mild sedative herbs. However, it can also amplify the effects of stronger sedative medications, producing undesirable effects. Using skullcap while on barbiturates and antidepressants such as Valium or Xanax is not advised.

You should also avoid skullcap if you’re pregnant (it is best to be safe). 

Note: this is a short summary of some of the dangers of Scutellaria lateriflora. The dangers of other species in the genus, like Scutellaria baicalensis are not mentioned here!


Possible Interactions with: Skullcap

American skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora L): a study of its
effects on mood in healthy volunteers



Skullcap health benefits


Skullcap also has many reported health benefits. Mainly, it is cultivated for its soothing effects on the nerves. It also alleviates the symptoms of occasional stress. Skullcap has recognised sedative and mild analgesic properties as well.

Some other species in the Scutellaria genus have further reported medical uses. In Ayurvedic medicine, for instance, a certain skullcap plant is used in concoctions that are used to treat hypertension.

Another study concluded, that a certain skullcap-containing decoction is effective in treating patients with type 2 diabetes.



Natural remedies for heart diseases

Clinical observation of using Ginger Skullcap Coptis Ginseng Decoction in treating 80 patients with type 2 diabetes



Skullcap tea – consumption, preparation


Skullcap is usually consumed as a tea or smoked. Smoking doesn’t need much explanation, therefore I will provide you with a recipe for preparing a skullcap tea.

The following is a simple and effective skullcap tea recipe.

The tea mixture used consists of valerian (1.5g), hops (1g) and, of course, skullcap (1g).

You put the ingredients in a bigger cup of hot (not boiling) water for 15-30 mins, then drink it when it cooled off somewhat.

The person who posted the recipe also mentioned using peppermint leaves, a small amount of chamomile, honey, rosehips, and lemon rind for the taste. These are optional.

Here are the described effects of the tea:

“After drinking the mixture, I began to feel very at peace, and very happy – an overall sense of well being. There were minor visuals, i.e. seeing lights out of the corner of the eye, auras around certain objects, etc. A few minutes later, I had the ability to lose awareness of everything around me, except what I was doing – no distractions whatsoever, be they mental or physical. Although my ability to concentrate and think clearly was impaired, I found that I could completely engulf myself in a book of pictures, or in a magazine, and not be distracted by anything at all.

I wouldn’t say that this was a ‘buzz’ or that I was ‘stoned’ at all, but it was a pleasing experience, and I may try it more often as a means to relax before bed after a hard day.”


A picture of a cup of skullcap tea.
Skullcap tea

Source: Erowid Experience Vault – Relaxing, Happy Buzz


Buy skullcap – US


You can buy skullcap from here:

Buy dried skullcap /shipped from the US, credit cards are accepted/

Perfect for smoking or as a tea!


Buy skullcap – Europe, Netherlands


You can buy dried skullcap from here:

Buy skullcap here /shipped from the Netherlands/

You can use the dried skullcap herb for smoking, or you can prepare a tea from it.




Skullcap tea “trip reports”


The following are experiences of ordinary people who tired skullcap and wrote about their experience with the plant.


1 skullcap joint smoked (mixed with plain tobacco):

“Anywise, I lit the skullcap joint, it was a very pleasent first drag, a sweet, woody smoke, a little harsh perhaps. The effects became apparent immediately. I felt very relaxed, lightheaded, a little giddy, but it was very different from a marajuana high. I got an instintive feel that this was a plant that is best smoked outside, in a quite spot, woodland or the like. It was like the plant was telling me that is where it was meant to be smoked.

This initial sensation of relaxation soon turned into sedation. I had difficulty lifting the joint to my mouth. I managed to smoke about two thirds of the joint. I was still able to talk, or mutter to my wife (or I think I was still able to talk) but I have no recollection of what I was saying. I went to bed and fell into a very deep sleep for about twelve hours during which I had many dreams. The dreams themselves were not unusual as dreams go, it was simply the profusion of them. Towards the end of the sleep I kept waking, feeling grumpy, then falling straight back asleep. I needed to go to for a piss but everytime I woke up to go I fell straight back asleep. When I finally got up, I felt deeply rested and relaxed and happy.”

Source: Erowid Experience Vault: Skullcap – Surprisingly Effective


Tea made from skullcap and damiana:

“After drawing for about an hour the effects of the tea began to fade. I quickly chugged the last two cups of tea. I continued to draw and within a half hour the second dose of tea kicked in STRONG! My eyes became heavy and I felt curiously dreamy. I began to zone out and stare. While I was staring at the white paper I was drawing on, my eyes began to play tricks on me. I have never tripped before but this was the closest I have ever come to it. Colors and shapes seemed to appear out of the texture of the paper. Curiously I saw a red circle everywhere I looked, similiar to what happens after glancing directly into the sun. In fact, at first I thought I had accidentally looked into the sun or a bright light but after examining my environment I could find no light source bright enough to cause this.

The effects peaked while I could see the translucent red circle and remained for about fifteen minutes. During the peak I became very drowsy and felt like I was about to fall asleep. I forced myself to stay awake and draw. Suddenly the tea wore off. The drowsiness and visual effects disappeared at the drop of a hat. However, the relaxed sensations remain with me as I type this and my thoughts turn to brewing some more tea!”

Source: Erowid Experience Vault: Skullcap – Mellow and Relaxing 



If you find this skullcap guide useful please give it a “+1”:

Thank you! It helps my website a lot.


Share your own trip report in the comment section below (to ensure anonymity don’t use your real name or real email address when submitting trip reports)!

Some of the information presented here might be outdated or incorrect (check “last updated” below). Make sure, that if you are planning to try out any of the substances to research them yourself as well.

I’m 100% committed to safe and responsible legal high consumption. If you have a few minutes to spare please read my blog post about responsible and safe legal drugs use.


Skullcap is only one of the legal highs included in Simon’s legal high guide, check out the others as well.

If you’re interested in more legal, natural sedatives, check out Simon’s Guide to Natural Sedatives!


Last updated: 2015. 12. 07.

Simon's Skullcap (Scutellaria Lateriflora) Guide
Article Name
Simon's Skullcap (Scutellaria Lateriflora) Guide
An overview of the mild psychoactive effects, health benefits and dangers of the skullcap herb (Scutellaria lateriflora). The article also contains a recipe for a skullcap tea-mix.

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