Chinese skullcap: uses and benefits

Chinese skullcap is known for its sedative, anti-inflammatory, and antispasmodic effects. Is there evidence of its properties? Find out!

Chinese skullcap: uses and benefits

Last update: December 17, 2022

chinese skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis) It is a herb that belongs to the family lamiaceaethe same of which mint is a part. Also known as “Chinese skullcap”, “huang qin” or “baical skullcap” and has a long history as a traditional Chinese medicine remedy.

In particular, it stands out for its abundant concentration of antioxidants, among which flavones stand out. It has two active substances, called baicalin Y baicalein, which have been associated with several positive health effects. Are you interested in knowing more about its uses and benefits? Keep reading!

Composition and properties of the Chinese skullcap

In traditional Chinese medicine, skullcap roots are used in a traditional remedy called huang-qin. A post on Science Bulletin details that the Chinese have used this part of the plant for more than 2000 years for the preparation of various remedies.

In general, it is used in decoctions or tinctures, since it is said that this way it preserves a large part of its properties. To be more precise, it concentrates a wide variety of phytochemicals, including flavones (baicalin and wogonoside) and aglycones (baicalein and wogonin).

Said composition is associated with antibacterial, antiviral, antitumor, hepatoprotective, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.. For this reason, the plant and its derivatives are used to treat diarrhea, bleeding, inflammatory disorders and respiratory infections.

Uses and benefits of Chinese skullcap

In the traditional Chinese medicine system, skullcap uses are largely supported by anecdotal evidence. For now, few clinical trials have evaluated the pharmacological potential of the plant.

Preliminary studies suggest that this herb may be an adjuvant in some diseases. However, given the lack of research in humans, its use should be merely complementary.

Respiratory infections

Chinese skullcap has been used as a natural remedy to promote relief from respiratory infections. Its antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties They help control symptoms such as congestion, cough and shortness of breath.

In a randomized trial, reported through Archives of Disease in Childhooda mixture of herbs known as shuang huang lian -containing skullcap baicalensis among its components—exhibited positive effects in the treatment of acute bronchitis in children.

The main effects were the following:

  • Fever relief.
  • Decrease in cough.
  • Reduction of hospital stay.
  • Control of wheezing and chest signs.
The plant is considered an adjuvant in bronchitis, but it is in no way a substitute for medical treatment.

neuroprotective potential

In China, skullcap is used as a remedy to stimulate memory and learning. The consumption of the plant and its derived supplements is related to better cognitive performance. However, for now there are only animal studies.

An investigation in mice, shared by Neuroscience Letters, determined that one of the antioxidants in Chinese skullcap, baicalein, has neuroprotective activity and reduces the risk of cognitive impairment and Parkinson’s disease. The researchers suggest additional studies.

prostate health

Popular literature indicates that Chinese skullcap may reduce the risk of developing benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). In fact, the Chinese population consumes the herbal supplement and the infusion of the plant as a preventive measure to care for the prostate.

Regarding this, a study in mice revealed by Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that Chinese skullcap root extract suppresses abnormal androgen events in prostate tissue, which prevents the appearance of benign prostatic hyperplasia.

For his part, through American Association of Cancer Research, it was reported that the plant also has antitumor potential against prostate cancer. However, it is an area that has received little research.

Although used in traditional medicine, Chinese skullcap should not be a first-choice treatment for prostate diseases.


Skullcap is classified as a “nerve restorative” and sedative plant, since it helps reduce states of nervousness, anxiety, stress and depression. Baicalin, one of its main active compounds, is related to these effects.

Other possible uses of the Chinese skullcap

Despite the lack of scientific studies, the Chinese skullcap has many other applications in traditional medicine. There is insufficient evidence for the following jobs:

  • Arthritis.
  • Epilepsy.
  • Hepatitis.
  • Atherosclerosis.
  • Hepatic cirrhosis.

Risks and contraindications

For most healthy adults, Chinese skullcap is safe and well tolerated. It may cause drowsiness, Although it usually happens with high doses.

Its excessive consumption can also lead to hepatotoxicity and pneumonitis. It is essential to respect the dose suggested by the manufacturer of the supplement.

However, given the lack of studies that speak of the safety of the plant, its intake must be avoided in the following special cases:

  • liver injuries.
  • Pregnancy and lactation.
  • Previous illnesses, such as diabetes and hypoglycemia.
  • Treatments with benzodiazepines, anticonvulsants and medications for insomnia.
The plant has a long tradition in Chinese medicine, although scientific evidence of its effects is limited.

Presentations and suggested doses

Chinese skullcap is available as capsules, tea, extracts, and tinctures. There is no certain information on what the appropriate dose is.

Therefore, it is essential to carefully read the product label. Often the following is recommended:

  • Infusion: 2 or 3 cups a day. It is prepared with 5 grams of the plant for every 250 milliliters of water.
  • Tincture: 20 to 40 drops in 120 milliliters of water, 3 times a day.
  • Tablets or capsules: 2 a day (may vary by manufacturer).

What is there to remember about the Chinese skullcap?

Chinese skullcap is highly valued in traditional medicine for its anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial and antioxidant potential. Consuming the plant alone or in herbal supplements is used as a supplement to improve mood, reduce respiratory infections, and protect the prostate.

Even so, the lack of scientific studies limits its therapeutic use. For now, it should not be a first choice treatment if there is suspicion of a disease. In fact, it is recommended to use it under the supervision of a traditional Chinese medicine professional to avoid inconvenience.

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