Alternative names: Huang Qin, Baikal, Baical Skullcap Root, Scute, Scutellaria.
Chinese skullcap is related to American skullcap, and looks similar, but it is an entirely different plant. It is a member of the mint family and its flowers range in color from blue to pink.
Chinese skullcap has long been a part of traditional Chinese medicine as a treatment for allergies, infection, spasms, inflammation, gout, hepatitis, fever, and headaches. It has been used as a sedative, to stimulate blood flow in the pelvic region, and to stimulate menstrual flow. It also appears to have antiepileptic, anti-insomnia, anti-histamine, antioxidant, antianxiety, antifungal, antiviral, and anticancer properties, but more research is needed.
The root of Chinese skullcap is used medicinally, and is available in capsules as a powder, and as a liquid extract, unprocessed root extract, tincture, tonic, and oil. It is often combined with other herbs.
With its potent anti-inflammatory properties, Chinese skullcap has been shown to be an effective home remedy for arthritis and irritable bowel syndrome patients. These same anti-inflammatory properties also appear to benefit patients with Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.
Chinese skullcap is not recommended for children and should be avoided by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. It should also be avoided by those with stomach or spleen problems. It can lower blood sugar levels, so diabetics should only take it under a doctor's supervision: the effects of diabetes medication are increased and, therefore, so is the risk of hypoglycemia.
Chinese skullcap increases the effects of sedatives and should not be taken in combination with them except under medical supervision. Examples include anticonvulsants, barbiturates, Xanax, Valium, treatments for insomnia, certain antidepressants, alcohol, valerian root, kava root, and catnip.
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