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The History of Baicalin and Why It’s Still Commonly Used Today

Krista H January 18, 2019

Used as a medicinal plant in China for centuries, baicalin has been used in the treatment of hypertension, insomnia, inflammation, dysentery, respiratory infections, and the list goes on.

Today, baicalin is isolated from the root of the flowering plant known as Scutellaria baicalensis or Chinese skullcap and continues to be a key area of interest among those in the health community.

Image result for chinese skullcap

The History of Baicalin

In Chinese culture, the preparation of baicalin is known as Huang-Qin, which has been actively practiced for more than 2000 years. Not to be confused with American skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), Chinese skullcap is used to treat different conditions — as they are not interchangeable.

In order to obtain baicalin is must be extracted from the roots of the Chinese skullcap plant. Native to several East Asian countries, as well as Russia, cultivation is also common in many European countries.

With its vast history in Chinese medicine, Huang-Qin is now officially listed in the Chinese Pharmacopoeia. Most often, the root is dried and then boiled, or is utilized for healing tinctures. However, throughout many Eastern countries, this healing root is prescribed as part of a more comprehensive, multi-herb formulation. In fact, S. baicalensis is listed as just one of the fifty fundamental herbs used in traditional Chinese herbal medicine.

Since its early history, S. baicalensis has been closely examined and more than 50 flavonoids have been identified. Of these, its major components include baicalin and aglycone baicalein. Accumulating evidence has shown that both of these agents offer extensive pharmacological effects.

Over the past decade or so, numerous studies have shown that baicalin displays a wide range of health-boosting properties, including anticancer effects.

Scutellaria_baicalensis

The Benefits Associated with Baicalin

While baicalin has an impressive track record and vast history, it is the latest research that continues to turn heads. Offering such a wide array of beneficial properties, it’s easy to see why this compound has been utilized for centuries.

Cancer research

As mentioned above, baicalin has been closely studied by cancer researchers. This flavonoid has been shown to effectively target a wide range of cancers, including colorectal. In this 2018 study, published in Scientific Reports, baicalin was found to induce and enhance apoptosis in HT-29 cells in a dose-dependent manner.

This means that baicalin has the ability to kill cancer cells, suppressing tumor growth. Since this form of cancer is one of the most common worldwide, this type of research provides hope for the 132,700 individuals who are newly diagnosed each year in the United States.

Several other studies have been documented, showcasing the effect that baicalin has on cancer cells in humans, including brain tumor cells and prostate cancer cells. What’s even more impressive, is that baicalin supports healing without causing mutations — which is a major issue associated with conventional anticancer drugs.

Liver health

One of the main components in the herbal remedy known as SST, S. baicalensis is used to help treat liver problems, including carcinoma, hepatitis, and hepatic fibrosis. Once again, baicalin is a major active component.

When studied in rats, baicalin was also shown to decrease the production of various disease-inducing proteins in the liver, which are associated with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. This study also found that baicalin was able to decrease cholesterol, TNF, alanine transaminase, and low-density lipoprotein levels — all of which are associated with liver damage.

When studied in regards to alcohol-induced liver injury in mice, baicalin was shown to have a protective effect. It was also found to reduce liver cell apoptosis. These findings were published in Molecular Medicine Reports.

Brain health

Since baicalin offers antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, it has also been studied in regards to optimal neurological health. As stated in this review, baicalin offers various neuronal protective properties, resulting in protection of the mitochondria and adult neurogenesis — which is the process by which new neurons are formed.

In addition, baicalin is believed to offer stress-relieving benefits, promoting relaxation. Acting on specific GABA receptors in your brain, baicalin is believed to offer stress-relief without causing side effects such as lethargy or sedation. Based on these findings, it is also no surprise that baicalin may also promote anti-anxiety effects.

Circulatory health

Baicalin has long been used to promote positive heart health due to its potent antioxidant effects. In this study, published in the International Journal of Clinical & Experimental Pathology, it was found that baicalin offers protection against a heart attack and in turn, heart failure.

It has also been shown to offer neuroprotective effects in relation to a stroke — which is caused by poor blood flow to the brain.

While studying the impact that baicalin has on your risk of coronary artery disease (CAD), researchers studied patients living with both CAD and rheumatoid arthritis. After 12 weeks of baicalin treatment, patients in the experimental group experienced reduced blood lipid levels and inflammation in comparison to the placebo group.

Lung function

From asthma to inflammation, baicalin has been shown to support optimal lung function. In this study, published in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, it was found to support airway smooth muscle cells. The researchers concluded that it may offer therapeutic support for those with asthma.

In regards to lung inflammation, this key study focused on silicosis — an inflammatory lung disease caused by the inhalation of silica. As explained by the researchers, Th17 cells play a role in causing this condition. However, baicalin has been shown to suppress these cells, reducing inflammation.

There have also been numerous studies which have found a link between baicalin and anti-viral activity. Once again, this study stated that the roots of Chinese skullcap have been used to treat inflammation and infective diseases for thousands of years. That is also why baicalin has been closely studied in regards to influenza viruses and the dengue virus. The researchers in this study found that baicalin does, in fact, block virus attachment while inhibiting virus replication.

Skin health

Your skin is your largest organ. It is also often showcases warning signs regarding your internal health. That is why many people take supplements not only to improve their physical health but to also promote enhanced natural beauty.Baicalin

Since baicalin is so well-rounded, it has often been highlighted as a skin-tightening remedy. This is based on the way in which baicalin impacts the telomeres in your skin — which is related to your chromosomes.

Believed to delay and even help reverse signs of aging, baicalin restores your telomeres, helping your skin look younger. In one key study by the World Health Organization, skin was exposed to UVA radiation. What they found, was that the skin cells without baicalin experienced the shortening of telomeres by nearly 70 percent. In comparison, the cells with baicalin were able to restore the length of their telomeres up to 64 percent of their original length — despite the fact that they endured ultraviolent damage.

Relating back to the anti-cancer effects of baicalin, the researchers also found that this flavone was able to stop p53 levels from increasing when exposed to radiation. Since p53 is related to a tumor-suppressing gene, when levels stay low, cancer is inhibited.

How to Use Baicalin

If you are currently building a health stack, baicalin is worth considering. From skin protection to stress reduction, healthy sleep patterns to antioxidant effects, the benefits of baicalin are vast.

Like any new supplement, always do your homework and follow the directions as outlined on the product itself. The key is to invest in products that are of the highest quality. The ingredients used matter!

Take control of your life, investing in your health today!

Even if baicalin isn’t right for you, there are plenty of ways that you can actively improve your wellbeing on a daily basis. To support your journey, please refer to the following guides and resources:

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Krista H
Krista majored in psychology and neuroscience, focusing on degenerative conditions, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. As she continued her research, she began to study the complex relationship between lifestyle variables and neurological health, including the impact these variables have on mood disorders and general wellness. She currently specializes in all aspects of neurological and physiological health, especially in relation to nutrition.
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