Baikal skullcap (Scutellaria baikalensis) is one of the oldest medicinal plants in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). This Asian healing doctrine is several thousand years old. It is based on various pillars, including acupuncture, massage techniques and forms of movement such as Tai Chi. The most important method, however, is medicinal therapy with medicinal plants. The recipes are put together individually in each case.
Baikal skullcap, in Chinese Huang Qin, has always been a frequently used medicinal plant because it can be used to treat many different health disorders.
As a labiate, Baikal skullcap has the square stem typical of this family. The herbaceous plant grows up to 40 centimetres high. It flowers between July and September with a decorative blue-violet inflorescence. Medically significant is the root.
The plant resembles the related medicinal plant Scutellaria laterifolia, the Virginia skullcap, which comes from North America. It is used in naturopathy as a nerve-strengthening remedy. With this herb, the upper parts of the plant are used.
There are also native skullcap species. The most common is Scutellaria galericulata, a marsh plant that also flowers blue-violet. The name "skullcap" refers to a helmet-shaped point on the sepals that catches drops. This in turn is what the Latin word scutellaria refers to, which comes from the Latin scutella, "little bowl".
Scutellaria baicalensis is common in China, Japan, Siberia and Mongolia. Its habitat is steppe-like, sunny, dry and stony regions.
In our country, Baikal skullcap tea, i.e. the dried root, is available under the name Scutellariae Radix in pharmacies or on the internet. However, the plant can also be grown in the garden, for example as a rock garden plant, or on the balcony.
Baikal skullcap is compared to our valerian because of its calming effect, which helps with inner tension and anxiety. It relieves headaches and nosebleeds. It can also reduce fever, is anti-inflammatory, strengthens the immune system and is used for colds, coughs and bronchitis. It stabilises the circulation and has anti-allergic effects. TCM also uses it for diarrhoea, arteriosclerosis, skin inflammations and high blood lipid levels. Pregnant women get it prescribed when the unborn baby is very restless.
Various flavonoids such as baicalin and wogonin are responsible for the effect.
The roots of Baikal skullcap are dug out in spring or autumn and freed from the fine secondary roots. They are then dried and the bark is removed.
Tip: The crushed root can be used to make a tea; the dosage is one to two grams per cup. Bring it to a boil and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Drink one cup three times a day. The plant is also used as a tincture or extract.