Skullcaps (Scutellaria spp.): Ethnobotany and Current Research

  • Lani Irvin
  • Carissa Jackson
  • Aisha L. Hill
  • Richa Bajaj
  • Chonour Mahmoudi
  • Brajesh N. Vaidya
  • Nirmal JosheeEmail author


As a genus, Scutellaria designates a group of medicinal species employed for centuries as a potential cure for various ailments in many traditional medicine practices. Preparations derived from Scutellaria imbue crude drugs, concoctions, decoctions, essential oils, infusions, tinctures, tonics, and teas. Therapies are denoted as “complementary” when practiced in addition to conventional medical treatments or as “alternative” when carried out instead of conventional medical treatment. Studies have shown the designs of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies to safely and effectively treat and prevent a varied range of health conditions including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and osteoarthritis. Scutellaria, commonly known as skullcap, is represented by over 360 species belonging to the mint family Lamiaceae. The resulting forms of Scutellaria-based medicinal preparations concentrate in extracting adequate quantities of bioactive chemicals, or phytochemicals produced by plants. These phytochemicals serve in protection from predators as well as a way to ensure ecological adaptation for extreme weather survival. Further, a number of studies conducted to ascertain the role of bioactive compounds extracted from Scutellaria using in vitro and in vivo approaches have shown a lot of promise as antitumor and anti-inflammatory properties. Scutellaria species have been observed to have high amount of polyphenols, particularly flavonoids like baicalein, baicalin, wogonin, and wogonoside. Others include apigenin, chrysin, scutellarin, and scutellarien that have been extensively studied for their bioactivity using cell and animal model systems. Scutellaria genus exhibits great diversity in the presence of glandular and nonglandular trichomes on aboveground plant parts. The glandular trichomes are the organs specifically involved in chemical biosynthesis and ecophysiological adaptation and are employed as a taxonomic tool to differentiate various species.


Skullcap Habitat Traditional medicinal systems Flavonoids 



This work would not have been possible without the financial support of the capacity-building USDA NIFA entitled Germplasm conservation, anti-adipocytic and anticancer activity and metabolic engineering in the genus Scutellaria. CSRESS Award 3 2011-38821-30918. P.I.: N Joshee. A special thanks is given to Dr. Cindy Hargrove Rivers for editing the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lani Irvin
    • 1
    • 2
  • Carissa Jackson
    • 1
  • Aisha L. Hill
    • 3
  • Richa Bajaj
    • 1
  • Chonour Mahmoudi
    • 4
  • Brajesh N. Vaidya
    • 1
  • Nirmal Joshee
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Agricultural Research Station, College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and TechnologyFort Valley State UniversityFort ValleyUSA
  2. 2.Department of Natural SciencesMiddle Georgia State UniversityMaconUSA
  3. 3.School of Medicine, Department of ImmunologyEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA
  4. 4.Department of Biology, Herbarium DivisionBu-Ali-Sina UniversityHamedanIran

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