Baical Skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis)
Baical skullcap is native to China, Japan, Korea, Russia and Mongolia. This perennial herb likes grassy slopes and sports purplish-blue blossoms. The roots are harvested in the autumn or spring from plants that are three or four years old. It has been used in Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years. Growing to just over a foot tall (35cm), it is a plant that packs a lot of medicinal value into its small root system.
Key Medicinal Uses
Internally Baical skullcap has been recommended to treat allergies like hay fever, asthma, diarrhea, coughs, fevers, and urinary problems. It is used to stimulate the appetite. It can calm distress, cases of nerves and irritations. It works to improve circulation, reduce blood pressure and to prevent blood clots. It has been used to treat infections, autoimmune disease, retroviruses like herpes and HIV and chronic inflammations. It is good for liver conditions like cholecystitis and hepatitis. It can help diabetes complications and cataracts. During pregnancy, baical skullcap is indicated if you develop toxemia or experience abnormal fetal movements.
Externally Baical skullcap is used to treat eczema and nettle rash. It has been used for scarlet fever and periodontal disease.
Herbs to Combine/Supplement
Combine the herb with either passionflower or wild lettuce to counteract insomnia. When combined with ju hua (a type of chrysanthemum) it can lower high blood pressure. If added to goldenseal or other bitter herbs, it works to rid the body of extra heat.
Root The root is the portion of this plant used medicinally.
There are no known contraindications to using this herb, but pregnant women should exercise caution. Very few cases of side effects have been reported. A few instances of cardiovascular and negative estrogen-like effects have been recorded. Other possible side effects may include diarrhea, upset stomach and sleepiness. Excessive doses may result in confusion, twitching and giddiness. There are no known drug interactions with it.
Preparation and Dosage
Baical skullcap can be taken as an infusion, a tincture, a decoction or tablets and capsules. It can be applied externally as a poultice. Tea can be made by adding 1 to 3 teaspoons of powdered root to 1 cup of boiling water. Steep this solution for 10 to 20 minutes. Drink 3 or 4 cups per day. For capsules, 3 capsules of the standard dosage can be taken per day for chronic inflammatory conditions and liver ailments. For more information on exact dosages, consult a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner for proper diagnosis and prescription, as in Chinese medicine, the herb combinations are designed for the individual's symptoms.