Scullcap herb health benefit and side effects, scutellaria, by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
February 10 2016

Scullcap is also spelled with a k, Skullcap. Scutellaria baicalensis is a plant widely used in Chinese and Japanese herbal medicine. Dry roots of of the herb are used, especially as alcohol extracts. Flavonoids isolated from Radix Scutellariae have beneficial effects in hepatitis. Flavonoids derived from scullcap herb produce antioxidative, antineoplastic, heart cell protective activity. They inhibit aggregation of platelets, permeability of capillary vessels, and have antibacterial and anti-angiogenic effects.
   Scullcap is found in Zyflamend.

Cancer prevention and benefit
New therapeutic aspects of flavones: the anticancer properties of Scutellaria and its main active constituents Wogonin, Baicalein and Baicalin.
Cancer Treat Rev. 2009; Li-Weber M. Tumor Immunology Program, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Im Neuenheimer Feld, Heidelberg, Germany.
Scutellaria baicalensis is one of the most popular and multi-purpose herb used in China traditionally for treatment of inflammation, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, and bacterial and viral infections. Accumulating evidence demonstrate that Scutellaria also possesses potent anticancer activities. The bioactive components of Scutellaria have been confirmed to be flavones. The major constituents of Scutellaria baicalensis are Wogonin, Baicalein and Baicalin. These phytochemicals are not only cytostatic but also cytotoxic to various human tumor cell lines in vitro and inhibit tumor growth in vivo. Most importantly, they show almost no or minor toxicity to normal epithelial and normal peripheral blood and myeloid cells. The antitumor functions of these flavones are largely due to their abilities to scavenge oxidative radicals, to attenuate NF-kappaB activity, to inhibit several genes important for regulation of the cell cycle, to suppress COX-2 gene expression and to prevent viral infections. The tumor-selectivity of Wogonin has recently been demonstrated to be due to its ability to differentially modulate the oxidation-reduction status of malignant vs. normal lymphocytic cells and to preferentially induce phospholipase C gamma 1, a key enzyme involved in Ca(2+) signaling, through H(2)O(2) signaling in malignant lymphocytes.

Inflammation reduction
Clin Dev Immunol. 2013. Baicalin inhibits IL-17-mediated joint inflammation in murine adjuvant-induced arthritis. T-helper-17 (Th17) cells are implicated in a number of inflammatory disorders including rheumatoid arthritis. Antagonism of Th17 cells is a treatment option for arthritis. Here, we report that Baicalin, a compound isolated from the Chinese herb Huangqin (Scutellaria baicalensis Georgi), relieved ankle swelling and protected the joint against inflammatory destruction in a murine adjuvant-induced arthritis model. Baicalin inhibited splenic Th17 cell population expansion in vivo. Baicalin prevented interleukin- (IL-) 17-mediated lymphocyte adhesion to cultured synoviocytes. Baicalin also blocked IL-17-induced intercellular adhesion molecule 1, vascular cell adhesion molecule 1, IL-6, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha mRNA expression in cultured synoviocytes. Collectively, these findings suggest that Baicalin downregulates the joint inflammation caused by IL-17, which is likely produced by an expanded population of splenic Th17 cells in experimental arthritis. Baicalin might be a promising novel therapeutic agent for treating rheumatoid arthritis in humans.

Scullcap Research studies
The Baikal scullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis Georgi)--a potential source of new drugs
Ceska Slov Farm. 2002.
The scullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis Georgi) is a medicinal plant of traditional Chinese herb medicine and the drug Scutellariae radix is, because of its antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, antiinflammatory, antiallergic, and sedative properties, the subject of intensive development. This paper reports the results of pharmacological-toxicological studies of this drug and its flavonids approximately from the year 1990 till the year 2001. The results confirm the validity of traditional use and at the same time indicate that some flavonoids have more utilizable therapeutic effects. Mainly baicalein seems to be a prospective medicine for the treatment of some kinds of cancer.

Side effects and cautions
Pneumonitis induced by ou-gon (scullcap).
Intern Med. 2001.
Department of Medicine, Keio University School of Medicine, Tokyo.
A 53-year-old Japanese man with recurrent interstitial pneumonia was referred to us. The patient had taken a traditional herb medicine, otsu-ji-to, before the onset of pneumonia. A provocation test for each herbal ingredient contained in otsu-ji-to revealed that the pneumonitis had been induced by ou-gon (scullcap). Lymphocytosis with the CD8+ T-cell subset predominance was found in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid and lymphocytic alveolitis was noted in the transbronchial lung biopsy specimen after the provocation test. Ou-gon, or scullcap, should be included in the list of drugs with definite causal association with pneumonitis.

Benefit of other species
J Basic Clin Physiol Pharmacol. 2015. Protective effect of Scutellaria species on AAPH-induced oxidative damage in human erythrocyte. Scutellaria baicalensis is a well-known plant in traditional Chinese medicine. Recently, several Scutellaria species with therapeutic potential have been recognized worldwide. Scutellaria colebrookiana and Scutellaria violacea, native to the Western Ghats of India, are reported to possess free radical scavenging efficacy.

I have a quick question regarding the use of skullcap. My research found that many many people use this as an antispasm herb for such things as treating partial seizures related to epilepsy, and curiously enough seems to be used to ease pms cramps for women. I was wondering if there was any validity to these claims. I have been a fan of your site for some time now and fully respect your recommendations.