Scutellaria baicalensis, also known as Baikal skullcap or huang qin, is frequently used in homeopathic medicine. Because it has properties that work as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-allergen, it is often used to treat fevers, coughs, diarrhea, urinary conditions, allergic rhinitis, and wheezing. In addition, some people believe the herb is helpful to treat secondary ailments caused by diabetes and cancer.
Native to China, Russia, Mongolia, Korea, and Japan, scutellaria baicalensis has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. In fact, in the 1970s, 92 wooden tablets were found in northwestern China that dated back to the Second century, indicating that the ancient Chinese people used the herb for a wide variety of ailments. It grows well in open areas and on sunny slopes. It often grows anywhere from 1 foot (.3 m) to 4 feet (1.2 m) in height and has spear-shaped leaves with bluish-purple flowers.
The root is the only part of scutellaria baicalensis that is used, and it is typically harvested when the plant is three or four years of age. It is often made into a decoction to treat feverish chest colds. In those cases, the decoction or boiled root is typically consumed, like a tea, three times each day. In other cases, a tincture is made by soaking the root in alcohol. Then, 40 drops or so of the tincture is added to water and consumed three times a day to treat allergic reactions, such as hay fever.
Research has shown that the flavonoids in scutellaria baicalensis are helpful in treating allergies and respiratory conditions, such as asthma, nettle rash, eczema, and hay fever. The flavonoids work by preventing inflammation in body from allergic reactions. In addition, some basic findings have shown that it may treat bronchitis, allergic rhinitis, high blood pressure, dysentery, and even hepatitis. Some laboratory studies suggest that it may have anticancer properties as well. More research needs to be conducted before it can be recommended to treat those conditions, however.
As with any drug or herb, a doctor should be consulted before using scutellaria baicalensis. In addition, it should only be purchased from a reputable homeopathic pharmacy. Some remedies have been contaminated with a plant that looks very similar to Baikal skullcap, but the side effects can be quite severe and may even cause liver damage or hepatitis. Side effects that were reported from Baikal skullcap include seizures, confusion, and stupor. Also, it should not be used in conjunction with anticoagulant drugs.