Chinese Skullcap: A Viable Adjunct to Cancer Treatment

March 14, 2016 -

One of the most respected and utilized herbs in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is Chinese skullcap (scutellaria baicalensis). Although less popular among Western health practitioners, the bioactive agents (e.g., baicalein flavonoid) in this herb have been the subject of intensive study with regard to their anticancer effects and other health benefits.

In Asia, Chinese skullcap is incorporated into a number of combination herbal products that have been used in adjunctive cancer treatment. I recently had the opportunity to review the literature published worldwide on this potentially important herbal agent, and have summarized it below in a clinically relevant format. I believe you will find the data quite intriguing and of great clinical importance.

Chinese skullcap is a member of the mint family and grows in China and Russia. Its root is a rich source of over 35 flavonoids, giving it a yellow color – hence its traditional name of golden root or huang qin, the Chinese term for yellow gold (known as ogon in Japanese). One of the major flavonoids contained in the root of the plant is baicalin, a flavone glycoside (12percent-17percent of all skullcap root flavonoids), which yields the aglycone flavone baicalein, once hydrolyzed by gut bacteria. Baicalein is readily absorbed into the bloodstream, where it has been shown to exert a broad spectrum of important biological activities.5 Baicalein has been incorporated into a number of herbal combinations in TCM that treat a wide array of health conditions, including the widely used Asian herbal remedy, Sho-saiko-to. Currently, baicalein is being studied for its anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial and anti-allergy effects. As explained below, its ability to halt the replication of various human cancer cell lines, via the inhibition of the 12 lipoxygenase enzyme system, is attracting a great deal of attention from the scientific community as a premiere agent in cancer research.

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