Baikal skullcap roots

Chinese: 黄芩

Pinyin: Huáng Qín

Parts used: Dried root

TCM category: Herbs that clear Heat and dry Dampness

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): Bitter

Organ affinity: Gallbladder Spleen Heart Large intestine Lung Small intestine

Scientific name: Scutellaria baicalensis

Other names: Scute, Chinese skullcap

Use of baikal skullcap roots (Huang Qin) in TCM

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitioner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Remove impurities, steam for half an hour, cut in thin slices, dry.

Dosage: 3 - 9 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Expels Heat and Dampness. Clears Upper Burner Heat, especially of the Lung. Clears Heat and stops reckless movement of Blood. Clears pathogenic Heat which is upsetting the fetus. Cools the Liver, reducing Liver Yang rising syndrome.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which baikal skullcap roots may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Chest pain Vomiting Dysentery Jaundice Coughing Bloody sputum Nosebleed Carbuncles Sores Miscarriage

Contraindications*: This herb should not be used by those with Deficiency Heat in the Lungs, with Coldness in the Middle Burner with diarrhea, nor by those mothers with restless fetus due to Cold conditions.

Common TCM formulas in which baikal skullcap roots (Huang Qin) are used*

Hao Qin Qing Dan Tang

Source date: Qing Dynasty

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears Heat and relieves acute conditions of the Gallbladder. Relieves acute Damp-Heat syndromes. Resolves Phlegm. Harmonizes the Stomach.

Conditions targeted*: CholecystitisIcteric hepatitis and others

Huang Qin is a king ingredient in Hao Qin Qing Dan Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Hao Qin Qing Dan Tang, Huang Qin , together with Sweet wormwood herb, the other key herb in the formula, drain Damp Heat from the Liver and Gallbladder

Read more about Hao Qin Qing Dan Tang

Niu Huang Qing Xin Wan

Source date: 1568 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears Heat and resolves Toxicity. Calms the Mind. Opens up the Orifices.

Conditions targeted*: Viral encephalitisMeningitis and others

Huang Qin is a deputy ingredient in Niu Huang Qing Xin Wan. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

Read more about Niu Huang Qing Xin Wan

Ding Chuan Tang

Source date: 1550 AD

Number of ingredients: 9 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears Lung Heat. Expectorant for asthma.

Conditions targeted*: Chronic bronchitisAsthma and others

Huang Qin is a deputy ingredient in Ding Chuan Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Ding Chuan Tang, Huang Qin clears Heat and transforms Phlegm. Together with Mulberry Bark (Sang Bai Pi), they act to eliminate Phlegm Heat from the Lungs, arrest the wheezing and stop the coughing.

Read more about Ding Chuan Tang

Qing Qi Hua Tan Wan

Source date: 1584 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears Heat. Transforms Phlegm. Directs Rebellious Qi downwards. Stops coughing.

Conditions targeted*: PneumoniaChronic bronchitis and others

Huang Qin is a deputy ingredient in Qing Qi Hua Tan Wan. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Qing Qi Hua Tan Wan, Huang Qin works together with Snake gourd seeds (Gua Lou Ren), the other assistant of this formula, to drain Lung Fire while transforming and clearing Phlegm-Heat. They markedly reinforce the actions of the key ingredient (Arisaema with bile).

Read more about Qing Qi Hua Tan Wan

Xiao Chai Hu Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula key actions: Treats the Lesser Yang Channels (Gallbladder and Triple Warmer). Regulates the Liver and Spleen functions. Addresses combined Yin-Yang symptoms of External and Internal, Excess and Deficiency, and Hot and Cold.

Conditions targeted*: HepatitisChronic cholecystitis and others

Huang Qin is a deputy ingredient in Xiao Chai Hu Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

Read more about Xiao Chai Hu Tang

Ban Xia Xie Xin Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula key actions: Reverses the flow of Rebellious Stomach Qi. Relieves both Heat and Cold Stagnation in the gastrointestinal tract.

Conditions targeted*: Peptic ulcersGastroesophageal reflux disease and others

Huang Qin is a deputy ingredient in Ban Xia Xie Xin Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Ban Xia Xie Xin Tang, Huang Qin drains clumping from the epigastrium by drying and directing downward.

Read more about Ban Xia Xie Xin Tang

Long Dan Xie Gan Tang

Source date: 1682 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears Heat and Fire from the Liver and Gallbladder. Clears and drains Damp-Heat from the Lower Burner.

Conditions targeted*: FurunclesPurulent otitis and others

Huang Qin is a deputy ingredient in Long Dan Xie Gan Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Long Dan Xie Gan Tang, Huang Qin works together with Cape Jasmine fruits (Zhi Zi), another deputy in this formula, to assist the key herb (Chinese Gentian) in draining the Fire and eliminating the Dampness.

Read more about Long Dan Xie Gan Tang

Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin

Source date: 1958 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Formula key actions: Calms the Liver. Extinguishes wind. Invigorates the blood. Clears heat. Tonifies the Liver and Kidneys.

Conditions targeted*: InsomniaHeadache and others

Huang Qin is an assistant ingredient in Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin. This means that it either serves to reinforces the effect of other ingredients or it moderates their toxicity.

In Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin, Huang Qin clears Heat and drains Fire. It prevent the Yang from rising in the Liver Channel

Read more about Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin

Huai Jiao Wan

Source date: 1107 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Formula key actions: Clears heat from the Intestines. Stops bleeding. Disperses wind. Regulates Qi.

Conditions targeted*: HemorrhoidsBleeding hemorrhoids and others

In Huai Jiao Wan, Huang Qin clears Heat and drains Fire. It prevent the Yang from rising in the Liver Channel

Read more about Huai Jiao Wan

Key TCM concepts behind baikal skullcap roots (Huang Qin)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), baikal skullcap roots are plants that belong to the 'Herbs that clear Heat and dry Dampness' category. Herbs in this category are used to clear inflammatory and infectious conditions, referred to as 'Internal Heat' in TCM. This is why most of the herbs in this category will have both antibacterial and antiviral properties. In TCM one has too much 'Internal Heat' in their body as a result of a deficiency of 'Yin' (which is Cold in nature, see our explanation on Yin and Yang) or, more commonly, an Excess of Yang (Hot in nature). Herbs that clear Heat and dry Dampness treat the latter while, at the same time, relieving the body of excess Dampness. As such they tend to be Cold or Neutral in nature.

As suggested by its category baikal skullcap roots are plants that are Cold in nature. This means that baikal skullcap roots typically help people who have too much 'Heat' in their body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much Heat in their body are said to either have a Yang Excess (because Yang is Hot in nature) or a Yin deficiency (Yin is Cold in Nature). Depending on your condition baikal skullcap roots can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Baikal skullcap roots also taste Bitter. The so-called 'Five Phases' theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Bitter ingredients like baikal skullcap roots tend to have a cleansing action on the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such baikal skullcap roots are thought to target the Gallbladder, the Spleen, the Heart, the Large intestine, the Lung and the Small intestine. Similar to modern medicine, in TCM the Gallbladder stores and releases bile produced by the Liver. It also controls the emotion of decisiveness. The Spleen on the other hand assists with digestion, Blood coagulation and Fluids metabolism in the body. In addition to regulating Blood flow, the Heart is believed to be the store of the 'Mind' which basically refers to someone's vitality. The Large Intestine receives the "impure" parts of the digested food from the Small Intestine, absorbs the remaining fluids and excrete the remainder as feces. In addition to performing respiration, the Lungs are thought in TCM to be a key part of the production chain for Qi and the Body Fluids that nourish the body. Like the Stomach, the Small Intestine has a digestive role, extracting the "pure" part of what we injest to the Spleen and the "impure" down to the Large Intestine.

Research on baikal skullcap roots (Huang Qin)

Flavones isolated from Scutellaria baicalensis root exhibit strong neuroprotective effects on the brain and are not toxic in the broad range of tested doses.1

Baicalein, one of the important Scutellaria flavonoids, was shown to have cardiovascular effects in in vitro.2

Scutellaria has demonstrated anxiolytic activity in humans.3

Sources:

1. Gasiorowski K, Lamer-Zarawska E, Leszek J, Parvathaneni K, Yendluri BB, Błach-Olszewska Z, Aliev G. (2011). Flavones from root of Scutellaria baicalensis Georgi: drugs of the future in neurodegeneration? CNS Neurol Disord Drug Targets. , 10(2):184-91.

2. Huang, Yu; Tsang, Suk-Ying; Yao, Xiaoqiang; Chen, Zhen-Yu (2005). "Biological Properties of Baicalein in Cardiovascular System". Current Drug Targets. 5 (2): 177–84. doi:10.2174/1568006043586206.

3. Wolfson P, Hoffmann DL (2003). "An investigation into the efficacy of Scutellaria lateriflora in healthy volunteers". Altern Ther Health Med. 9 (2): 74–8. PMID 12652886.