By now you may be familiar with skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), and perhaps you’ve even used it for stress or as a sleep aid. A notable relative exists in Traditional Chinese medicine by the name of Huang Qin: Baikal skullcap or Scutellaria baicalensis. Baikal skullcap shares some nervine (calming) qualities with its cousin, yet it is better known as an ally against allergies and pathogenic microbes. Like S. Lateriflora, it has quite an affinity for the brain. It has also been shown to produce melatonin, which can help us regulate our sleep rhythms.
Evidence for Baikal Skullcap’s use in Chinese medicine dates all the way back to the Second century. In traditional formulations, it was included for allergies, high fevers, thick yellow phlegm, painful urinary disorders, and as an anti-inflammatory.
In his book “Herbal Antivirals”, Stephen Buhner discusses its status as a broad-spectrum antiviral. He outlines Baikal Skullcap’s multiple mechanisms for preventing viral replication, stopping viruses from hijacking healthy cells, and killing viruses on sight. Typically, the herb prefers to work indirectly against pathogens by affecting the body’s immune response. He notes that it should be used in combination with other antivirals, specifically licorice. The herb can also handle both resistant and nonresistant bacterial infections, staphylococcus among them. Being a valuable antimicrobial, Chinese Skullcap can be used in the battle against bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
With its ability to affect immune response, Baikal Skullcap is equally useful against seasonal allergies, food allergies, and immune dysregulation in general. It does so by inhibiting the release of prostaglandins and histamine. Baikal skullcap can be used to treat asthma, allergic skin diseases such as eczema, and has a role to play in the treatment of autoimmune disease.
Buhner, S. H. (2013). Herbal antivirals: natural remedies for emerging and resistant viral infections. Storey Publishing Llc.
Originally written in 2018 for Euphoria Natural Health