Scuttelaria lateriflora or baicalensis are both great herbs for anxiety.    The English name for the plant sums up its use – Skullcap. It “caps” thoughts.   It is a great herb for people who say “my mind just races” or “I wake up in the middle of the night going through lists in my head”.  If you can imagine a skullcap on your head this plant contains your thoughts.  Having taken it myself all my lists were still there, but they did not disrupt my sleep or distract me in the same way, nor did they dull the senses.   The plant does what it says – it calms.

But to answer the question “Do herbs actually work”, here is a little bit of science!

The brain produces a neurotransmitter called GABA – Gamma-aminobutyric acid.  GABA blocks impulses between nerve cells in the brain and helps control anxiety and fear.  Low levels may be linked to anxiety, epilepsy and chronic pain.  Similar to benzodiazepines, such as Valium or Xanax, Skullcap acts on receptors for GABA.  However, with Skullcap there is no sedative effect.

Benzodiazepenes enhance GABA by binding to an A Receptor – GABAA.  Skullcap contains two constituents – baicalin and baicalein.  These are known to bind to the benzodiazepine site of the GABAA receptor and therefore act similarly without some of the side effects[1].

But don’t just rush out to get Skullcap and hope it will work for you.  In general herbalists do not use a plant on its own.  A herbal remedy will typically contain a number of herbs, each supporting one another and enhancing their respective effects. And herbs are matched to the person.  Randomly taking herbs without these considerations may mean you don’t get the most out of them.  For further assistance with anxiety please contact us on info@freshperceptions.com.

[1] Awad et al, Phytochemical and biological analysis of skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora L.): a medicinal plant with anxiolytic properties, Phytomedicine. 2003 Nov;10(8):640-9

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