Introduction to Scutellaria Baicalensis
Chinese skullcap, Scutellaria Baicalensis, also known as (Baikal) Baical Skullcap, is a herb that belongs to the Lamiaceae mint family. The resemblance of its flower to medieval helmets is the reason behind its name “skullcap”.
The roots of this herb have been used since ancient times, as old as 2000 years in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). It is many times termed as “golden herb”.
Practitioners consider Chinese skullcap root to be helpful in treating insomnia, diarrhoea, high blood pressure, and gut & lung infections. It is always used as part of many multi herb medications. It is even classified as a drug in a country like China.
Research on animals and cells showed its antioxidant and antimicrobial characteristics. These also point to its anti-cancer properties. Although, not much research and clinical studies have been carried out.
Blue Skullcap vs Chinese Skullcap
American skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), also known as the blue skullcap, belongs to the same species Chinese skullcap. In general, people might call “skullcap” either of these species.
Although both these herbs have similar active compounds, the American skullcap has a different chemical profile & potential effects. We will discuss only Scutellaria Baicalensis, the Chinese skullcap, in this article.
The roots of Scutellaria Baicalensis, as compared to leaves and stem are rich in flavonoids (derivatives baicalein and wogonin) known as baicalin and wogonoside.
How Scutellaria Baicalensis Works
Baicalin and baicalein in Scutellaria Baicalensis help to fight cancer, reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and soothe anxiety. Both compounds increase the production of antioxidants. Other components like wogonin help in cancer-fighting, anti-inflammatory benefits.
Baicalin may also help with anxiety. It activates receptors GABA-A and glycine in the brain. There is another flavonoid called K36 which too activates GABA-A receptors as strongly as the anti-anxiety drugs.
Evidence is insufficient for:
Although promising, most of the research on the anticancer properties of Scutellaria Baicalensis has been done in animals and cells. To corroborate these preliminary findings, more clinical trials are required.
In two investigations on persons with lung cancer who were receiving chemotherapy, Chinese skullcap extract enhanced the synthesis of T cells, red blood cells, and white blood cells in the bone marrow, implying an improvement in their immune condition.
Blood and bone marrow malignancy that grows quickly is referred to as acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). Chinese skullcap eliminated malignant immune cells in children with ALL in test tubes while leaving healthy ones unharmed.
Scutellaria Baicalensis inhibited the growth of skin, colon, and bladder tumours in rats (by causing programmed cell death). It reduced the growth of skin cancers by 66% in mice and bladder tumours by 30% in mice. Baicalein inhibited the growth of prostate cancer in mice by 55%.
Active chemicals from the plant (baicalin, baicalein, and wogonin) inhibited the growth and spread of a variety of malignancies in cell assays, including :
Cancer of – Ovary, Mammary glands, Liver, Pancreas, Leukemia, Bladder, Colonial
2) Plaque and Gum Inflammation
Chinese skullcap has the potential to destroy harmful oral microorganisms. In a trial of 40 persons, a toothpaste containing skullcap extract significantly reduced gum irritation and plaque after 21 days. Skullcap inhibited the growth of 8 of 11 microorganisms that cause gum irritation in one cell study.
3) Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis that affects the joints.
A medicinal meal comprising Chinese skullcap and Acacia catechu extracts (Flavocoxid) reduced joint pain, stiffness, and mobility as effectively as the anti-inflammatory medicine naproxen in two clinical studies on 182 persons with knee osteoarthritis.
Wogonin, the active ingredient in Chinese skullcap, lowered the allergic response to mites in human skin cells. Skullcap was injected into the skin of rats before they were exposed to an allergen, and it lowered the allergic response by lowering histamine and other inflammatory substances.
Research on animals and cells (Lack of Evidence)
There is no clinical proof that a Chinese skullcap can be used to treat any of the ailments described in this section. A synopsis of extant animal and cell-based research is provided here, which should help guide future research efforts. The research, however, should not be construed as proof of any health advantage.
Bacteria, Viruses, and Fungi Fight
Chinese skullcap has traditionally been used to treat illnesses, particularly respiratory diseases. Skullcap was found to be more effective than a medicine used to treat and prevent the flu (oseltamivir phosphate) in inhibiting the replication of the swine flu virus in a cell investigation.
For Lyme illness, some practitioners use Chinese skullcap.
Chinese skullcap has also been utilised to eliminate toxins and assist the liver in the past. It appears to act as an antiviral agent and affect viruses that cause hepatitis, as per the few initial researches.
Skullcap and its active component baicalin were active against HIV and inhibited the virus’s ability to spread when exposed to it.
This herb may also destroy yeast that is hazardous to your health. Skullcap was the most effective in suppressing Candida albicans development in a cell investigation of 56 commonly used Chinese medicinal herbs. It was found to be equally effective as the antifungal medicine nystatin (Mycostatin).
However, none of the findings has been duplicated in humans or, in the majority of cases, animals. More research is needed to see if Chinese baical skullcap benefits against these bacteria’ illnesses.
Chinese skullcap for hair loss treatment:
Finasteride, the same medicine that addresses prostate enlargement as discussed above, may also help reverse baldness. Why is that?
Male-pattern baldness is brought on by a number of causes, including excessive levels of DHT and 5-alpha-reductase. Skullcap may naturally prevent or minimize hair loss by targeting both. Skullcap inhibited the effects of DHT on hair-growth cells in test tubes. The active ingredient in the herb, baicalin, promoted the creation of new hair follicles in mice when applied to the skin.
Despite the fact that it is frequently used for this purpose, it has only been studied in animals. However, future human trials will be required to establish these scutellaria benefits.
Skullcap lowers oxidative stress, high blood sugar, and insulin levels in diabetic rats, restoring normal insulin function. This shows it could be particularly beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes.
A powerful antioxidant
Skullcap prevented rabbits fed a high-cholesterol diet from losing potent antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase. In diabetic rats, it also raised levels of these antioxidants.
Health of the Liver
Skullcap is frequently used in herbal recipes to treat liver disorders. Skullcap reduced DNA damage in the liver and boosted the activity of detoxifying enzymes in rats exposed to mould toxins. The plant protected mice’s livers against alcohol-induced damage. Skullcap prompted harmful liver cells to commit suicide in a cell investigation, presumably avoiding fibrosis (liver scarring).
Protection of the brain
Inflammation in the brain has a critical part in neurodegenerative illnesses like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and multiple sclerosis. Skullcap protected mice with Alzheimer’s disease from memory loss. It also reduced immunological overactivation and inflammation induced by bacterial toxins (LPS) in brain cells.
Skullcap lowered depression in rats and avoided hippocampal damage caused by persistent stress. Both memory and emotional control rely heavily on the hippocampus.
Scutellaria Baicalensis Precautions
When eaten by mouth, Scutellaria Baicalensis is possibly safe for the majority of people. It has the potential to make you sleepy. Fever and lung inflammation have been reported in patients who have taken Scutellaria Baicalensis. However, there isn’t enough evidence to say whether Scutellaria Baicalensis is to blame for these negative effects.
Few also suggests that some Scutellaria Baicalensis-containing products may cause liver problems in some persons. Flavocoxid (Limbrel, Primus Pharmaceuticals), a specific combination medication, was found to be safe in research investigations lasting up to 12 weeks. However, some persons may experience liver problems as a result of this combination product or others. This adverse effect does not appear to be widespread, and it may only be experienced by those who have an allergic reaction to it.
When used topically or When administered intravenously, there is insufficient credible evidence to determine whether Scutellaria Baicalensis is safe or what the potential adverse effects it may cause.
Scutellaria Baicalensis Warnings:
There isn’t enough credible information to know whether Scutellaria Baicalensis is safe to use during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Therefore experts advise avoiding its use in such situations.
Bleeding problems. Blood coagulation may be slowed by Scutellaria Baicalensis. In principle, Scutellaria Baicalensis could make persons with bleeding disorders more prone to bruising and bleeding.
Diabetes: Scutellaria Baicalensis has been shown to influence blood sugar levels in diabetics. If you have diabetes and use Scutellaria Baicalensis, keep an eye out for indicators of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and keep a close eye on your blood sugar levels.
Scutellaria Baicalensis may have the same effects as the female hormone oestrogen in hormone-sensitive conditions such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids. If you have a condition that could be aggravated by oestrogen, don’t take Baikal.
Scutellaria Baicalensis has been shown to reduce blood pressure. In persons who are prone to low blood pressure, Scutellaria Baicalensis may drop blood pressure too substantially.
Scutellaria Baicalensis may help to prevent blood clots during surgery. It’s possible that it’ll cause more bleeding during and after surgery. Scutellaria Baicalensis should be stopped at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Scutellaria Baicalensis Interactions
Scutellaria Baicalensis reacts to alcohol.
Alcohol might make you sleepy or drowsy. Scutellaria Baicalensis can also make you sleepy or drowsy. Large doses of Scutellaria Baicalensis combined with alcohol may result in excessive sleepiness.
Scutellaria Baicalensis interacts with diabetic medications (antidiabetes medicines).
Scutellaria Baicalensis may help to lower blood sugar levels. Blood sugar is also controlled using diabetes medicines. If you use Scutellaria Baicalensis with diabetic medicine, your blood sugar may drop too low. Keep a tight eye on your blood sugar levels. It’s possible that the dose of your diabetes medication needs to be adjusted.
Glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others are some of the drugs used to treat diabetes.
Scutellaria Baicalensis interacts with sedative drugs (benzodiazepines).
Sleepiness and drowsiness may be caused by Scutellaria Baicalensis. Sedatives are medications that cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Combining Scutellaria Baicalensis with sedative medicines may result in excessive tiredness. Clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), and other sedative drugs are among them.
Scutellaria Baicalensis interacts with sedative drugs (CNS depressants).
Sleepiness and drowsiness may be caused by Scutellaria Baicalensis. Sedatives are medications that make you sleepy. Combining Scutellaria Baicalensis with sedative medicines may result in excessive tiredness. Clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), phenobarbital (Donnatal), zolpidem (Ambien), and other sedatives are examples.
Scutellaria Baicalensis reacts with lithium.
Scutellaria Baicalensis could have a diuretic or water pill effect. Scutellaria Baicalensis may impair the body’s ability to eliminate lithium. This could cause major side effects by increasing the amount of lithium in the body. If you’re on lithium, check with your doctor before using this product. It’s possible that your lithium dosage needs to be adjusted.
Keep an eye on this combination.
Statins, which are used to decrease cholesterol, interact with Scutellaria Baicalensis.
Statin levels in your blood may be affected by Scutellaria Baicalensis. However, there isn’t enough information to determine whether or not this is a significant interaction. If you’re on cholesterol-lowering drugs, talk to your doctor before using Scutellaria Baicalensis. Atorvastatin (Lipitor), cerivastatin (Baycol), fluvastatin (Lescol), lovastatin (Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol), and simvastatin are examples of these drugs (Zocor).
Scutellaria Baicalensis Dosage
Chinese skullcap dosage is determined by a number of factors, including the user’s age, health, and other medical conditions. There is currently insufficient scientific data to define a suitable dosing range for Scutellaria Baicalensis. Keep in mind that natural products aren’t always safe and that dosages are crucial. Before using, be sure to read the product label and consult your pharmacist, physician, or other healthcare experts.