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It has an upright habit, growing 60 to 80 centimeters in maximum height. It is a wetland-loving species and grows near marshes, meadows, and other wet habitat. The blue flowers are just under a centimeter long. Most of the flowers do not appear at the top of the main stem, but are produced along the length of side branches that grow from the leaf axils.
Scutellaria lateriflora is used in herbal medicine as a mild sedative and sleep promoter. Other skullcaps used for similar purposes include common skullcap (S. galericulata), western skullcap (S. canescens), and southern skullcap (S. cordifolia). In a small-scale double blind, placebo-controlled study, blue skullcap had anxiety-reducing effects in 19 volunteers. S. lateriflora, along with reducing anxiety, significantly enhanced global mood without a reduction in energy or cognition. 
β-Elemene in the herb had potential anti-cancer properties in vitro, but studies in humans have not confirmed its effectiveness. Diterpenes isolated from S. barbata had cytotoxic activity against three human cancer cell lines in vitro.
|This section needs more medical references for verification or relies too heavily on primary sources. (April 2014)|
Scutellarin is transformed by hydrolysis into scutellarein.
The principal phenolics in the leaves, stems, and roots of some Scutellaria species are baicalin, baicalein and wogonin. Baicalin has anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects in a rat model of thermal hyperalgesia. Another study identifies 5,6,7-trihydroxy-2'- methoxyflavone and its 7-O-glucuronide. A number of the flavones found in S. lateriflora have been reported to selectively bind with high affinity to central benzodiazepine receptor sites, leading to the view that the flavones exert anxiolytic and other benzodiazepine effects in rats.
The flavonoids are found throughout the plant but are more concentrated in the leaves, and the concentrations are found to decrease slightly as the plant matures. The dried leaf is reported to contain about 50 milligrams of flavonoid per gram. The flavonoids are readily extracted using hot water. A flavonoid-rich ethanolic extract of S. lateriflora protected hydrogen peroxide-UV induced cleavage of supercoiled plasmid DNA. Furthermore, these researchers found that the antioxidant effect of S. lateriflora based on the reduction of lipid peroxidation was comparable with that of the well-established and widely used antioxidant alpha-tocopherol.
- Scutellaria lateriflora. NatureServe. 2012.
- mad dog, n. -compounds Oxford English Dictionary - mad dog because it was a supposed cure for hydrophobia,
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- Wolfson, P. and D. L. Hoffmann. (2002). An investigation into the efficacy of Scutellaria lateriflora in healthy volunteers. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine 9(2), 74-78.
- Brock C, Whitehouse J, Tewfik I, Towell T (2014). "American Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora): a randomised, double-blind placebo-controlled crossover study of its effects on mood in healthy volunteers.". Phytother Res: 692–8. doi:10.1002/ptr.5044. PMID 23878109.
- Li, Q. Q., et al. (2010). Antineoplastic effect of β-elemene on prostate cancer cells and other types of solid tumour cells. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology 62(8), 1018-27.
- Peng, X., et al. (2006). Assessing the quality of RCTs on the effect of β-elemene, one ingredient of a Chinese herb, against malignant tumors. Contemporary Clinical Trials 27(1), 70-82.
- Qu, G. W., et al. (2010). Two new cytotoxic ent-clerodane diterpenoids from Scutellaria barbata. Journal of Asian Natural Products Research 12(10), 859-64.
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- "The Antiinflammatory and Analgesic Effects of Baicalin in Carrageenan-Evoked Thermal Hyperalgesia". Anesth Analg 97: 1724–1729. 2003. doi:10.1213/01.ane.0000087066.71572.3f.
- Comparison of the Chemical Composition of Extracts from Scutellaria lateriflora Using Accelerated Solvent Extraction and Supercritical Fluid Extraction versus Standard Hot Water or 70% Ethanol Extraction. J. Agric. Food Chem., 53 (8), 3076 -3080, 2005
- Analysis of Scutellaria lateriflora and its adulterant Teucrium canadense by HPLC-UV and HPLC-UV/MS, Tom's of Maine, PO Box 710, Kennebunk, ME 04043. USA.
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