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                                                                 Baical Skullcap

BAICAL SKULLCAP

Botanical Name:Scutellaria baicalensis

Scutellaria lateriflora (Skullcap/Scullcap, Virginia Skullcap, Blue Pimpernel, Helmet Flower, Hoodwort, Mad-dog Weed, Madweed, Madderweed, Mad-Dog Skullcap, Quaker Bonnet/Hat) Scutellaria baicalensis syn. S. macrantha (Baical Skullcap, Huang quin/qin)


Baikal Skullcap is a low growing, perennial shrub reaching only 30cm in height, but spreading up to 50-60cm wide. The tubular flowers are held in dense one sided racemes, with long stalks giving the plant more height. The blue-purple flowers have a helmet shape on the top and a wider, skirt like lobe at the base. The blooms appear in late spring to summer and into autumn, but the timing may be somewhat climate dependent. The dark green leaves are spear shaped, quite long and thin, extending out from the stems. The stems spread along the ground and then extend up at the tips. The roots have medicinal value and are dark brown and woody, on the outside, and bright yellow inside.

Scutellaria baicalensis is part of the Laminaceae or mint family. The genus name references the shape of the calyx with the Latin word for a small dish ‘scutella’. The common name ‘skullcap’ refers to the medieval term for small medieval helmets. The species name ‘baicalensis’ is taken from Lake Baikal, the native habitat of the plant. There are many similar species growing in different countries, all of which may be given the localized name of ‘skullcap’ or ‘scullcap’. To prevent confusion it is important to check the species name of the plant. For example, there is often confusion between Scutellaria baicalensis, Scutellaria lateriflora and Scutellaria barbata, with the latter two plants being given the name Baikal Skullcap by many gardeners in North America.

Baikal Skullcap is also found in Mongolia, Korea and parts of China. It may be called Chinese Skullcap or Huang Qin in Chinese Traditional Medicine


Constituents

Flavonoids present in S. baicalensis include baicalin, baicalein, wogonin, and wogonoside. RP-HPLC determination of flavonoids from S. baicalensis root has been reported. Flavones Ι and ΙΙ, chrysin, wogonin, apigenin, salvigenin, scutellarein, isoscutellarein, and others were flavonoid constituents also found in S. baicalensis leaf parts. Flavones baicalein, oroxylin, and skullcapflavone ΙΙ also were identified. Other reports confirm similar flavonoid content. One report describes melatonin in certain plant samples. Other compounds include sterols and benzoic acid. The western species, S. laterifolia differs in its chemical constituents.


Uses

Antiviral

Antiviral effects of the plant also have been reported. A flavonoid compound from S. baicalensis inhibited T-cell leukemia virus type Ι (HTLV-Ι). Constituent baicalin inhibited reverse transcriptase activity in HTLV-Ι-infected cells, as well as the activity of purified reverse transcriptase from Moloney murine leukemia virus and Rous-associated virus type 2.  Other flavones, such as isoscutellarein from S. baicalensis leaves, also show anti-influenza virus activity in vitro. Isoscutellarein-8-methylether from S. baicalensis roots had effects against influenza A and B viruses. Inhibition of replication occurs by inhibiting the fusion of viral envelopes with the endosome/lysosome membrane in the early stage of the virus infection cycle.

Circulation

Baical skullcap is used to help treat circulatory problems such as high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, varicose veins, and bruising. Flavone baicalein has inhibited thrombin and thrombin-induced calcium and plasminogen activator, suggesting potential benefits in arteriosclerosis and thrombosis. Another report discusses S. baicalensis in combination (sanhuang mixture) to inhibit platelet aggregation compared with 50 mg/day aspirin. 


Other uses

Baicalin exhibited hepatoprotective actions in rats as well. 

Baical skullcap may have CNS actions, specifically sedative effects. Flavonoids baicalin and baicalein affect glial cells, which play a role in maintaining neural cell function.  Flavones baicalein, oroxylin, and skullcapflavone II were found to bind with the benzodiazepine site of GABA-A receptors.

Other uses of Baical skullcap preparations include treatment of neonatal jaundice, marked antiulcerogenic actions,  sores, swelling, boils, and diabetic problems

Anti-inflammatory

The anti-inflammatory effects of bacial skullcap have been well documented. One study reports the methanolic extract of 3 flavonoids, wogonin, baicalein, and baicalin, to have an effect similar to prednisolone.

Antioxidant

Flavonoids from S. baicalensis have been studied for antioxidant effects. Four major flavonoids (baicalein, baicalin, wogonin, and wogonoside) have been studied in various systems, confirming several antioxidant activities



Cautions

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking Baikal skullcap if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Children: Baikal skullcap is POSSIBLY SAFE in children when given intravenously (by IV) by a healthcare provider, short-term. An intravenous preparation that includes Baikal skullcap, forsythia, and honeysuckle has been used under medical supervision with apparent safety in children for up to 7 days. Not enough is known about the safety of Baikal skullcap in children when used long-term.

Bleeding disorders. Baikal skullcap might slow blood clotting. In theory, Baikal skullcap might increase the risk of bruising and bleeding in people with bleeding disorders.

Diabetes: Baikal skullcap can affect blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Watch for signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and monitor your blood sugar carefully if you have diabetes and use Baikal skullcap.

Hormone-sensitive condition such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids: Baikal skullcap might have the same effects as the female hormone estrogen. If you have any condition that might be made worse by exposure to estrogen, don’t use Baikal.

Low blood pressure: Baikal skullcap might lower blood pressure. In theory, Baikal skullcap might lower blood pressure too much in people prone to low blood pressure.

Surgery: Baikal skullcap might slow blood clotting. There is concern that it might cause extra bleeding during and after surgery. Stop using Baikal skullcap at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.


Drug interactions

Alcohol interacts with BAIKAL SKULLCAP

Alcohol can cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Baikal skullcap might also cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Taking large amounts of Baikal skullcap along with alcohol might cause too much sleepiness.

Lithium interacts with BAIKAL SKULLCAP

Baikal skullcap might have an effect like a water pill or "diuretic." Taking Baikal skullcap might decrease how well the body gets rid of lithium. This could increase how much lithium is in the body and result in serious side effects. Talk with your healthcare provider before using this product if you are taking lithium. Your lithium dose might need to be changed.

Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs) interacts with BAIKAL SKULLCAP

Baikal skullcap might decrease blood sugar. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking Baikal skullcap along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.

Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.

Sedative medications (Benzodiazepines) interacts with BAIKAL SKULLCAP

Baikal skullcap might cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Medications that cause sleepiness and drowsiness are called sedatives. Taking Baikal skullcap along with sedative medications might cause too much sleepiness.

Some of these sedative medications include clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), and others.

Sedative medications (CNS depressants) interacts with BAIKAL SKULLCAP

Baikal skullcap might cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Medications that cause sleepiness are called sedatives. Taking Baikal skullcap along with sedative medications might cause too much sleepiness.

Some sedative medications include clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), phenobarbital (Donnatal), zolpidem (Ambien), and others.