Asthma and Chinese Skullcap
The root of this plant has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for a variety of conditions including asthma. Chinese skullcap contains flavone derivatives including baicalin, wogonin and baicalein which inhibit histamine release from mast cells in vitro. Baicalin showed antiasthmatic activity (antihistaminic and anticholinergic activity) in isolated tracheal muscle from asthmatic guinea pigs. Reducing hypesensitivity and inflammation in airways is vital to managing asthma. Its traditional use supports the relief of night time asthma symptoms.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners
Baicalin, wobogin, and baicalein appear to have a low order of toxicity, though comprehensive safety studies have not been performed. There have been case reports of liver injury associated with use of skullcap products, but these may have been due to adulteration by the herb germander.
One animal study found worrisome evidence that baicalin might markedly reduce the absorption of drug cyclosporine , used to prevent organ transplant rejection. 1 Another study found that baicalin might reduce blood levels of drugs in the statin family , used to improve cholesterol profile. 2 Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or people with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established.
Interactions You Should Know About
If you are taking:
- Cyclosporine : Do not use Chinese skullcap or its constituents.
- Cholesterol-lowering drugs in the statin family : Use of Chinese skullcap might reduce its effectiveness.
National Institutes for Health and National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2005. Traditional Chinese Herbs May Benefit People With Asthma. (Online) http://nccam.nih.gov/research/results/spotlight/061609.htm accessed 02-01-2010
Staff. 2006. Natural Herbs for Asthma. (Online) http://www.hebalsupplementesourcement-resource.com/herbs-for-asthma.html accessed 02.01.10
- Lai MY, Hsiu SL, Hou YC, et al. Significant decrease of cyclosporine bioavailability in rats caused by a decoction of the roots of Scutellaria baicalensis. Planta Med. 2004;70:132-137.
- Fan L, Zhang W, Guo D, Tan ZR, Xu P, Li Q, Liu YZ, Zhang L, He TY, Hu DL, Wang D, Zhou HH. The effect of herbal medicine baicalin on pharmacokinetics of rosuvastatin, substrate of organic anion-transporting polypeptide 1B1. Clin Pharmacol Ther. 83(3):471-6.