Chinese Scullcap

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Uses

Botanical names:
Scutellaria baicalensis

Parts Used & Where Grown

Scutellaria baicalensis, a mint family member, is grown in China and Russia. The root of this plant is used in traditional Chinese herbal medicines and has been the focus of most scientific studies on scullcap. American scullcap and Chinese scullcap are not interchangeable.

What Are Star Ratings?

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.

2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.

1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:

Used for Why
2 Stars
Epilepsy (Asian Ginseng, Bupleurum, Cassia Bark, Ginger, Jujube, Licorice, Peony, Pinellia)
2.5 grams a day of sho-saiko-to or saiko-keishi-to in tea or capsules
The Chinese herb bupleurum is included in two herbal formulas, sho-saiko-to and saiko-keishi-to. Both have been shown to be helpful for epilepsy.

The Chinese herb bupleurum is included in two similar Chinese herbal formulae known as sho-saiko-to and saiko-keishi-to; these combinations contain the same herbs but in different proportions. The other ingredients are peony root, pinellia root, cassia bark, ginger root, jujube fruit, Asian ginseng root, Asian scullcap root, and licorice root. Both formulas have been shown in preliminary trials to be helpful for people with epilepsy. No negative interactions with a variety of anticonvulsant drugs were noted in these trials. The usual amount taken of these formulas is 2.5 grams three times per day as capsules or tea. People with epilepsy should not use either formula without first consulting with a healthcare professional.

2 Stars
Hepatitis (Asian Ginseng, Bupleurum, Cassia Bark, Ginger, Jujube, Licorice, Peony, Pinellia)
Take 2.5 grams of sho-saiko-to three times per day
Trials have shown that the bupleurum-containing formula sho-saiko-to can help reduce symptoms and blood liver enzyme levels in people with chronic active viral hepatitis.

Preliminary trials have shown that the bupleurum-containing formula sho-saiko-to can help reduce symptoms and blood liver enzyme levels in children and adults with chronic active viral hepatitis. Most of theses trials were in people with hepatitis B infection, though one preliminary trial has also shown a benefit in people with hepatitis C. Sho-saiko-to was also found, in a large preliminary trial to decrease the risk of people with chronic viral hepatitis developing liver cancer. However, people who had a sign of recent hepatitis B infection were not as strongly protected in this trial. The usual amount of sho-saiko-to used is 2.5 grams three times daily. Sho-saiko-to should not be used together with interferon drug therapy as it may increase risk of pneumonitis - a potentially dangerous inflammation in the lungs.

2 Stars
Liver Cirrhosis (Asian Ginseng, Bupleurum, Cassia Bark, Ginger, Jujube, Licorice, Peony, Pinellia)
2.5 grams of the Chinese herbal formula sho-saiko-to three times daily
The Chinese herb bupleurum is a component of the formula sho-saiko-to, which was shown in one preliminary trial to liver cancer risk in people with liver cirrhosis.

The Chinese herb bupleurum is an important component of the formula known as sho-saiko-to. Sho-saiko-to was shown in one preliminary trial to reduce the risk of liver cancer in people with liver cirrhosis. The amount of this formula used was 2.5 grams three times daily.

1 Star
Bronchitis
Refer to label instructions
Chinese scullcap might be useful for bronchitis as an anti-inflammatory.

Anti-inflammatory herbs may help people with bronchitis. Often these herbs contain complex polysaccharides and have a soothing effect; they are also known as demulcents. Chinese scullcap might be useful for bronchitis as an anti-inflammatory. However, the research on this herb is generally of low quality.

1 Star
Hepatitis
Refer to label instructions
Chinese skullcap may be useful for liver infections.

Another Chinese herb, Chinese scullcap, might be useful for liver infections. However, the research on this is generally of low quality.

1 Star
HIV and AIDS Support (Asian Ginseng, Bupleurum, Cassia Bark, Ginger, Jujube, Licorice, Peony, Pinellia)
Refer to label instructions
The herbal formula sho-saiko-to has been shown to have beneficial immune effects on white blood cells in people infected with HIV.

The Chinese herb bupleurum, as part of the herbal formula sho-saiko-to, has been shown to have beneficial immune effects on white blood cells taken from people infected with HIV. Sho-saiko-to has also been shown to improve the efficacy of the anti-HIV drug lamivudine in the test tube. One preliminary study found that 7 of 13 people with HIV given sho-saiko-to had improvements in immune function. Double-blind trials are needed to determine whether bupleurum or sho-saiko-to might benefit people with HIV infection or AIDS. Other herbs in sho-saiko-to have also been shown to have anti-HIV activity in the test tube, most notably Asian scullcap. Therefore studies on sho-saiko-to cannot be taken to mean that bupleurum is the only active herb involved. The other ingredients are peony root, pinellia root, cassia bark, ginger root, jujube fruit, Asian ginseng root, Asian scullcap root, and licorice root.

Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)

Chinese scullcap is typically used in herbal combinations in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat inflammatory skin conditions, allergies, high cholesterol and triglycerides.1

How It Works

Botanical names:
Scutellaria baicalensis

How It Works

The root of Chinese scullcap contains the flavonoid baicalin that has been shown in test tube studies to have protective actions on the liver. Anti-allergy actions and the inhibition of bacteria and viruses in test tube studies have also been documented with Chinese scullcap.2 Some preliminary Chinese human trials, generally of low quality, suggest that Chinese scullcap may help people with acute lung, intestinal, and liver infections, as well as hay fever.3 More extensive clinical research is needed to clearly demonstrate Chinese scullcap’s effectiveness for these conditions.

How to Use It

In traditional Chinese herbal medicine, Chinese scullcap is typically recommended as a tea made from 3–9 grams of the dried root.4 Fluid extract, 1–4 ml three times per day, is also used.5

Interactions

Botanical names:
Scutellaria baicalensis

Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds

At the time of writing, there were no well-known supplement or food interactions with this supplement.

Interactions with Medicines

Certain medicines interact with this supplement.

Types of interactions: Beneficial Adverse Check

Replenish Depleted Nutrients

  • none

Reduce Side Effects

  • none

Support Medicine

  • Lamivudine

    Test tube studies show that the herbal combination sho-saiko-to enhances the antiviral activity of lamivudine. Sho-saiko-to contains extracts of seven herbs, including Bupleuri radix, Pinelliae tuber, Scutellariae radix, Zizyphi fructus, ginseng (Ginseng radix), licorice (Glycyrrhizae radix), and ginger (Zingibers rhizoma). Controlled studies are needed to determine whether taking sho-saiko-to might enhance the beneficial effects of lamivudine.

Reduces Effectiveness

  • Cyclosporine

    In a study in rats, oral administration of Chinese scullcap at the same time as cyclosporine significantly reduced the absorption of cyclosporine. Chinese scullcap did not interfere with the availability of cyclosporine when cyclosporine was given intravenously. Because of the potential adverse interaction, people taking cyclosporine should not take Chinese scullcap.

Potential Negative Interaction

  • none

Explanation Required

  • none

The Drug-Nutrient Interactions table may not include every possible interaction. Taking medicines with meals, on an empty stomach, or with alcohol may influence their effects. For details, refer to the manufacturers’ package information as these are not covered in this table. If you take medications, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.

Side Effects

Botanical names:
Scutellaria baicalensis

Side Effects

Use of Chinese scullcap in recommended amounts appears to be safe. There is one case report of liver damage occurring in a person taking a product that contained Chinese skullcap. However, this adverse effect might have been due to another herb present in the product.6 The safety of Chinese scullcap during pregnancy and breast-feeding is unknown and should be avoided during these times.

References

1. Bone K, Morgan M. Clinical Applications of Ayurvedic and Chinese Herbs: Monographs for the Western Herbal Practitioner. Warwick, Australia: 1996, 75-9.

2. Newall CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. London: Pharmaceutical Press, 1996, 239-40.

3. Bone K, Morgan M. Clinical Applications of Ayurvedic and Chinese Herbs: Monographs for the Western Herbal Practitioner. Warwick, Australia: 1996, 75-9.

4. Foster S. Herbs for Your Health. Loveland, CO: Interweave Press, 1996, 86-7.

5. Bone K, Morgan M. Clinical Applications of Ayurvedic and Chinese Herbs: Monographs for the Western Herbal Practitioner. Warwick, Australia: 1996, 75-9.

6. Yang L, Aronsohn A, Hart J, Jensen D. Herbal hepatoxicity from Chinese skullcap: A case report. World J Hepatol 2012;4:231-3.