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Scutellaria (huang qin)

What is scutellaria? What is it used for?

Also known as the Baikal skullcap, scutellaria is one of the oldest herbs in traditional Chinese medicine; writings dating from the second century AD have listed scutellaria as a component of several herbal formulas used at the time.

Scutellaria is a conical, twisting type of herb that can reach up to a foot in length, with long brown roots. The roots are harvested in autumn or spring, after a plant reaches between three and four years of age, and are used in herbal preparations.

According to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, scutellaria is associated with the Large Intestine, Liver, Lung, and Stomach meridians, and has spicy, bitter and cold properties. Its main functions are to remove heat and invigorate the blood. Among the conditions scutellaria is used for are general trauma, sores and abscesses on the skin, diarrhea, insect bites and snake bites. Scutellaria also has anti-inflammatory properties, and is often used to reduce swelling caused by injury. It also lowers blood pressure, and is used by some practitioners as a form of sedative.

How much scutellaria should I take?

The amount of scutellaria to be taken depends on the condition being treated. Generally, practitioners will recommend a dose of between 15 and 60 grams per day. It can be taken either internally or externally.

What forms of scutellaria are available?

Scutellaria is available in a wide range of forms, including decoctions, tinctures and pills. Some practitioners can make an ointment using scutellaria and other herbs, which is applied to the skin. Dried scutellaria root can be found at some herbal markets and specialty stores.

What can happen if I take too much scutellaria? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?

Scutellaria is considered safe; the American Herbal Products Association has given scutellaria a class 1 rating, which means that it can be safely consumed when used appropriately. However, it should not be taken by patients diagnosed with blood deficiency.

As of this writing, there are no known drug interactions associated with scutellaria. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking scutellaria or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.

References

  • Huang Y, Tsang SY, Yao X, et al. Biological properties of baicalein in cardiovascular system. Curr Drug Targets Cardiovasc Haematol Disord April 2005;5(2):177-184.
  • Li HB, Jiang Y, Chen F. Separation methods used for scutellaria baicalensis active components. J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci December 5, 2004;812(1-2):277-90.
  • McGuffin M, Hobbs, Upton R, et al. (eds.) American Herbal Products Association's Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1997, p. 105.
  • Wang WS, Zhou YW, Ye YH, et al. Studies on the flavonoids in herb from scutellaria barbata. Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi October 2004;29(10):957-9.
  • Ye F, Wang H, Jiang S, et al. Quality evaluation of commercial extracts of scutellaria baicalensis. Nutr Cancer 2004;49(2):217-22.

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