Powerful Benefits of Skullcap, Baikal

Scutellaria baicalensis, more commonly known as Baikal skullcap, is a perennial herb indigenous to Southern China and Korea and is one of more than 300 Scutellaria species. Its dried roots are used in traditional Chinese medicine.

The plant grows to about 1-4 ft. tall, with lanceolate leaves and blue-purple, hermaprodite flowers. The roots are collected in spring or autumn once the plant is between 3-4 years old.

Chemical constituents of Baikal skullcap include major flavonoids and its constituents like baicalein, baicalin, norwogonin, wogonin, oroxylin, and β-sitosterol. A report also cites the presence of melatonin in some plant samples. Sterol and benzoic acid were also isolated.

Alternative Names

Huang qin, golden root

Baikal Scullcap Benefits

  • Antioxidant

  • Anticancer

  • Antibacterial

  • Anti-inflammatory

  • Antiviral

  • Neuroprotective

  • Astringent

  • Fibrefuge

  • Antipyretic

  • Anticholesterolemic

  • Haemostatic

  • Sedative

  • Tonic

The antioxidant properties of flavonoids found in Baikal skullcap have been studied and confirmed. It has a neutralizing effect against free radicals that cause cancer, wrinkles and other degenerative diseases. The herb’s extracts also exhibited protective action against UV light oxidation, and have potential uses when it comes to treating skin diseases. Because of its high antioxidant content, Baikal skullcap works as a good tonic for the immune system.

There has been a study showing that the anti-inflammatory effect of the methanolic extract of the 3 flavonoids present in Baikal skullcap, namely wogonin, baicalein, and baicalin, has similar effects with that of prednisolone.

While there are still insufficient clinical trials to prove the effectiveness of the herb when it comes to treating cancer, early studies were already affirmative. It has been used as one of the 8 herbal ingredients in prostate cancer medication, PC-SPES. This preparation has stimulating effects on the immune system as well as antitumor actions. PC-SPES therapy has been evaluated as a treatment course in cases where the prostate cancer is resistant to hormone therapy.

The herb is also effective in reducing Prostate Specific Antigens (PSA) count by as much as 50%. It also reduced the level of the enzyme prostate acid phosphatise. However, the PC-SPES had been recalled from the market because the use of the prescription drug, warfarin, was not declared.

Baical skullcap helps treat circulatory disorders like high blood pressure, varicose veins, and bruising, and had demonstrated potential benefits in thrombosis and arteriosclerosis. When combined with other herbs, it has comparable effect with 50 mg/day aspirin in terms of inhibiting platelet aggregation.

Used alone or in combination with other herbs, Baikal skullcap is a highly potent herb that one should take in manageable dosage.

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