Scutellaria: 17 properties, uses and benefits
The scutellaria belonging to the Labiatae family, is a plant used in phytotherapy for its sedative, protective heart, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic properties.
There are different varieties. The most used are: the scutellaria americana (scutellaria galericulata), called scutellaria of Virginia although it grows throughout the United States and southern Canada, and the scutellaria baikalensis georgi with properties similar to the American and native to the Asian continent.
In a botanical study 3 species of Scutellaria were compared (the scutellaria genus has more than 350 species): the baicalensis, the lateriflora and the racemosa. The phytochemical analyzes revealed and quantified the baicalin, baicalein and scutellarin present in the three species and showed that there are no significant differences. It is also established that racemose is a potential source of phytopharmaceuticals ( 1 ).
The Chinese medicine uses the root of skullcap baikalensis for centuries.
It has been used, and still is, as a remedy for diarrhea , inflammation and hepatitis. It is considered a remedy for excess heat ( cough and fever), for hot and humid conditions such as dysentery and diarrhea. Chinese doctors also use it for liver diseases, but this property is not recognized by confirmation studies.
The Native Americans used the Scutellaria lateriflora to treat gastrointestinal inflammation, and those of the respiratory system. To this day it is used in folk medicine.
The 17 benefits of scutellaria
The scutellaria root is rich in flavonoids such as baicalin and baicalein, phytosterols such as beta-sitosterol, iridoids such as scutellarioside, coumarins, polyphenols and tannins. Other active constituents are wogonin, apigenin and oroxylin. The baicaleina is also contained in the plantain.
The properties attributed to it are sedative, tranquilizers, heart protectors, anti-inflammatory and antiallergic .
- Allergies and infections of the respiratory tract: itrelaxes the bronchial musculature and its flavonoids perform an anti-inflammatory action that make it beneficial in inflammatory disorders on an allergic basis, with a discreet antihistamine activity.
- Prevention of heart attacks: two studies conducted on animals in Japan have shown that the active ingredients contained in scutellaria are able to increase the so-called good cholesterol (HDL) by decreasing the incidence of cholesterol factor on heart problems.
- It is neuroprotective: in vitro, the ability of the baicalin to improve learning and impairment of memory following global cerebral ischemia has been demonstrated ( 2 ).
- Its anti-inflammatory property is confirmed by several studies:an in vitro research has studied its effects on acnecaused by a bacterium (Propionibacterium acnes) linked to some skin diseases, but also to blepharitis and endophthalmitis. The results showed the reduction of the inflammatory response attributable to the flavones present in the root of Scutellaria baicalensis ( 3 ). This study, carried out by the University of Wenzhou (China), both in vitro and on animal models, studied the effects of baicalin on osteoarthritis. L ‘ osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease with an inflammatory component that determines the consumption of the extracellular cartilage matrix. The results the researchers came up with are promising and suggest that baicalin may be a potential in the treatment of osteoarthritis ( 4 ).
- Advantageous for the intestine: even though scutellaria is an herb that has given rise to endless disputes about its properties, dividing scholars, it seems to favor the restoration of damaged intestinal epithelia.
- Sedative and relaxing properties are attributed to scutellaria :this makes it useful in anxious states and insomnia. Some species of Scutellaria, including baicalensis and lateriflora, have shown anxiolytic activity both in animals and in humans, thanks to components such as baicalin, wogonin, apigenin and scutellarin. The search for new anxiolytics is always in action, the effects of another flavone present in scutellaria, wogonin, which has shown, on animal models, the anxiolytic effect of the flavone, without the side effects typical of benzodiazepine, known psychotropic drug with tranquilizing properties, but with considerable side effects ( 5 ).
- The baicalin present in scutellaria baicalensis would act with antagonist action on androgen receptors(hormones that influence some functions of the skin and prostate). The results show that baicalin promotes the proliferation of dermal papilla cells and therefore can be considered useful in treating androgen-dependent disorders such as androgenetic alopecia . It has also inhibited the overgrowth of prostate cancer cells ( 6 ).
- Scutellaria, due to its baicalin content, flavonoids and its anti-inflammatory action, has proved useful in animal model studies as gastroprotectiveand anti-ulcerogenic (anti-secretory effect) in gastric ulcers ( 7 ).
- The vascular inflammatory processplays a key role in the progression of atherosclerosis (a serious complication of diabetes mellitus). In this study, on animal models, the action of the three polyphenols, baicalin, baicalein and wogonin present in scutellaria was evaluated, concluding that the three flavones can bring significant benefits in therapy for diabetic complications and atherosclerosis ( 8 ).
- Scutellaria is rich in flavonoids so it fights free radicals, known agents that promote aging and more. Precisely the component consisting of flavonoids makes it a valid aid for circulation and microcirculation, in fact we find it in different herbal preparations for improving vascular function.
- A 2015 study, in vitro, of the University of Indianapolis, concluded that aucubine and baicalein reduce the growth and biofilm formation of Candida Albicans, resulting in promising antimycotics ( 9 ).
- Many studies have been conducted on the anticancerproperties of the baicalina. It is important to point out that in most cases they are not double-blind randomized clinical trials, but they open the doors to further studies.
- An in vitro study has come up with results that suggest that Scutellaria baicalensis could be a powerful chemotherapeutic agent against hepatocellular carcinomabecause it reduces metastases by inhibiting their proliferation ( 10 ).
This study, conducted by the Institute of Immunology in Wroclaw, Poland, on cells taken from patients suffering from lymphoblastic leukemia , shows that Scutellaria has immunomodulatory effects and an antitumor potential ( 11 ).
- Another component of the scutellaria has also been the subject of research: wogonin. Studies have shown that wogonin inhibited the production of several inflammatory cytokines, including tumor necrosis factor.
- Other studies and research, conducted on the anticancer activity (ovarian cancer, stomach, breast, etc.) of the baicalin and other components of scutellaria have attributed positive results ( 12).
- Scutellaria is also used in cosmetics, in fact some face creams and detergents contain it. Its flavonoids make it an anti-age with sebum-regulating effects.
- In herbal medicine is the dried herbal tea. 200 ml of water is poured on 5 g of plant and left to rest covered for 10 minutes. It is filtered. The mother tincture is obtained by maceration of the whole shredded plant for three weeks in a mixture of food alcohol and water and is already prepared in herbal medicine.
Scutellar based supplements
For those who want to use scutellaria in the form of supplement there are several alternatives available that exploit the various properties of scutellaria in different ways with specific orientations. We reviewed three highly valid products:
- Over lady : a phytotherapic supplement aimed at dilating the effects of menopause, particularly indicated for women who suffer from hot flashes, mood swings and excessive sweating.
- Relaxina Panic: probably one of the most effective formulas on the market in the anxiety sector. It guarantees rapid action in the event of emotional excess, panic attacks and nervous crises.
- Alergix Plus : here is another solid answer for those who want to exploit the antiallergic potential of scutellaria without forgetting ribes nigrum and astralago, as both these plants are present and reinforce immune responses, thus providing relief for those suffering from character respiratory problems allergic as allergic rhinitis and hayfever.
Curiosity and history of the plant:
The American scutellaria is a slender plant that does not reach 60 cm in height. It has serrated leaves and blue flowers, with a bowl-shaped goblet, from which, presumably, the name derives.
The leaves have dark specks on the underside. It grows everywhere in the sunny places of Europe, Asia and America. It is harvested in mid-summer and the whole plant is used, but the relevant part in phytotherapy is the roots.
It is preserved dried in paper or canvas bags. The taste is bitter.
Also scutellaria baicalensis is a herbaceous plant of about 60 cm with lance-shaped leaves and violet-blue flowers.
As already reported, Traditional Chinese Medicine has used scutellaria for centuries as a sedative and tranquilizer.
In the United States it became famous in 1772, when it was used to treat hydrophobia, but herbalists recommended it for nervousness, insomnia and malaria.
In 1863 it was included in the American pharmacopoeia, as a tranquilizer, until 1947, when it was eliminated because it was considered devoid of medicinal properties.
Currently, opinions tend to favor the plant, given also the research and studies carried out, in fact the scutellaria is part of formulations, together with other components, of preparations to counter insomnia.
Contraindications and warnings before use
Do not take during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Do not give to children, do not take with sedative drugs. In all cases, seek medical advice, phytotherapy is chemical, like drugs.