Natural Health

Important Herb in Chinese Medicine Can Help Your Whole Body

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Important Herb in Chinese Medicine Can Help Your Whole Body about ComfortPro
When medical researchers investigate plants that have been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years, they get important lessons in the unique ways that herbs can improve health.

That’s certainly the case with the herb known as skullcap. It’s a central herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine and has been used to help the body defend against cancer, high blood pressure, internal bleeding, insomnia, breathing issues, diarrhea, and dysentery.1 And while studies show that skullcap is indeed useful against these conditions, scientists didn’t know why skullcap can be so effective until recently. Now these scientists are saying the plant shows real promise for supporting better health in ways that modern drugs can’t match.

Researchers examining the phytochemicals in skullcap have often focused on a flavonoid called baicalin that’s proving its capacity to provide potent medicinal benefits.

Of course, plants manufacture the natural chemicals called flavonoids like baicalin for their own benefit. What I mean is that flavonoids help provide colors that attract pollinating insects, filter out harmful ultraviolet light and serve as chemical messengers which plant cells use for communication.

Tests of baicalin show that our bodies often put it to use to help cells signal each other in ways that help our organs and immune system function better. This appears particularly useful in helping the heart and the rest of the cardiovascular system stay healthier.

Lowers Blood Pressure

When researchers in Asia analyzed how baicalin helps lower blood pressure and improve the function of blood vessels, they found that it slows down the cellular release of calcium in ways that relax the smooth muscle tissue that can constrict arteries.2 (Certain cardiovascular drugs, such as calcium channel blockers, work similarly.) Baicalin’s influence on cell signaling also improves the function of potassium in this layer of muscle.

These were effects the scientists hadn’t initially expected. They also noted that baicalin is an antioxidant that can cancel out some of the harmful oxidative stress that restricts and narrows blood vessels leading to hypertension.

Goes After Cancer

A growing body of research also shows that baicalin can slow the growth of malignant tumors. When researchers in Asia performed lab tests to analyze the effects of baicalin in and around tumors, they found that this chemical was “re-educating” immune cells called macrophages and persuading them to attack and destroy cancer cells.

According to the scientists, who performed their tests on breast cancer and melanoma, many tumors recruit macrophages to help them elude destruction by other immune cells called T-cells. And when tumors are growing rapidly and threatening to invade other parts of the body, many of these recruited macrophages act to camouflage the tumors, so the T-cells don’t recognize them as a danger to the body. These misbehaving macrophages can also help cancer cells evade destruction by chemotherapy.

But because of the epigenetic (gene changing) effects of baicalin, more macrophages arrive at tumors prepared to attack rather than protect the malignancy. Plus, under the molecular influence of baicalin, these enhanced macrophages release inflammatory substances that kill off cancer cells and allow the macrophages to swallow up the cancerous growths and tear them apart.3 That’s impressive!

Promising Relief For Pancreatitis

There are plenty of other studies that are revealing the remarkable attributes of skullcap in helping the body fight other illnesses. For example, research shows that baicalin can reduce the fibrosis that occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed, a painful condition called pancreatitis.

In this study, the scientists found that baicalin could help the pancreas by keeping macrophages away (they add to the pancreas’s inflammation). Baicalin’s effect on cell signaling within the pancreas also ratchets down other inflammatory immune cells that can cause problems.4

Helps Allergies

Wogonin, another active natural compound in skullcap, can reduce allergic reactions. Tests show that wogonin can calm immune responses to allergens by changing the cell signals from immune cells that stimulate the release of inflammatory chemicals. The researchers believe this means it could be useful against food allergies, skin rashes (atopic dermatitis) and asthma.5 As the studies into the benefits of baicalin and other natural substances in skullcap continues, I’m sure we’ll see more of these types of results. For example, researchers are also busy looking into this herb’s brain benefits.

In a review, researchers in Asia point to evidence that baicalin can support neuronal health by reducing oxidative stress, fighting inflammation, stimulating the growth of new neurons, and promoting the body’s own manufacture of chemical factors that protect nervous tissue.6 Each of these actions is important in protecting memory and cognitive function.

All of this convinces me that we’re probably just at the beginning of realizing the full health potential of skullcap. Stay tuned.
  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5031759/ 
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0753332218378132?via%3Dihub 
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8423900/ 
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33536916/ 
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6271178/ 
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6025220/ 
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