is a genus of flowering plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae. They are known commonly as skullcaps. The generic name is derived from the Latin scutella, meaning “a small dish, tray or platter”, or “little dish”, referring to the shape of the calyx. The common name alludes to the resemblance of the same structure to “miniature medieval helmets”. The genus has a sub-cosmopolitan distribution, with species occurring nearly worldwide, mainly in temperate regions.
Skullcaps are common herbal remedies in systems of traditional medicine. In traditional Chinese medicine, they are utilized to “clear away the heat-evil and expel superficial evils”. Scutellaria Baicalensis, in particular, is a common component of many preparations. Its root, known as Radix Scutellariae, is the source of the Chinese medicine Huang Qin. It has been in use for over 2000 years as a remedy for, bowel irregularity, and valued as an analgesic. It is still in demand today and marketed in volumes that have led to the overexploitation of the wild plant.
In North America, Scutellaria lateriflora was used in Native American medicine to treat gynaecological conditions. Today it is still a popular medicinal herb. It is widely available as a commercial product used in western herbalism to help relieve anxiety and muscle tension.