What is Baicalin?
To understand what Baicalin is we must first mention Baicalein. Baicalein is a flavone, a type of polyphenolic flavonoid, extracted from the roots of Scutellaria baicalensis and Scutellaria lateriflora.
Baicalin is the glucuronide of baicalein, which is created by the binding of glucuronic acid to baicalein. It is used in Asian countries in traditional herbal medicine, is very similar to Baicalein in form and function and the two are found together in nature.
Researchers have analyzed the chemical composition of the various flavonoids found in nature and divided them into the following classifications:
Baicalin and Baicalein both belong to the flavone group in this classification scheme.
Sources of Baicalin
Scutellaria baicalensis, also known as Baical skullcap root or Huang Qin in Chinese, is one of the fifty fundamental herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine. It is a perennial herb and a member of the mint family Lamiaceae and historically the root has been predominantly used in herbal medicine. The flowering period is from July to August and the fruiting period is from August to September. Main habitats are grasslands and high dry gravel slopes and it is commonly found in Hebei, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia, Henan and Shaanxi.
The main chemical constituents of Scutellaria baicalensis are baicalein, baicalin, wogonin, wogonoside, neobaicalein, acetophenone, palmitic acid, oleic acid, proline, benzoic acid, radix scutellariae enzyme and β-sitosterol.
The other source of Baicalin is found in the Scutellaria lateriflora another member of the Lamiaceae plant family and a native of North America. Commonly known as the blue skullcap, mad dog skullcap, American skullcap or side-flowering skullcap it favours meadows, marshes and wetland.
Scutellaria lateriflora leaves have been used for more than two hundred years as a relaxant as a therapy for anxiety and nervous tension. However, more research is needed to support that. Studies have shown that Scutellaria lateriflora has significant antioxidant properties, and may help protect against neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, anxiety, and depression. There is even some evidence to suggest that Scutellaria lateriflora may help to reduce allergic reactions from food allergies.
Standardized Baicalin Extract
There is little doubt that a standardized extract is far superior to powdered supplements that contain the pulverized leaves or roots of the plant. The best way to take advantage of baicalin is to use a standardized extract with a purity greater than 90%. Quality standardized baicalin extracts are manufactured in accordance with rigorous quality controls and laboratory analysis.
All reputable dietary supplement manufacturers always clearly describe the method that was employed to isolate and purify their baicalin extract. A baicalin extract can be offered in a pure form that contains no additives, or in the form of a compound that includes other active ingredients.
Uses of Baicalin
Historically the plants baicalin is extracted from have been used in traditional healing due to their medicinal properties.
Baicalin and baicalein have traditionally been used to treat anxiety. A study showed that baicalin inhibits the the neurons that raise anxiety levels so may be effective in this capacity (1). In a mouse study baicalin was able to reduce anxiety without causing drowsiness or muscle relaxation (2).
Baicalin may also find have potential for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, a study showed it was able to improve cognitive decline via anti-inflammatory action (3). In a rat study it demonstrated its ability to improve memory and learning impairment from brain injury (4). A further rat study also suggested that baicalin was able to encourage neuron growth in damaged brain sections after stroke (5).
There is some evidence to suggest baicalin and baicalein may help prevent eye diseases such as cataracts and age related macular degeneration. Certainly this appears to be the case in at least one animal study (6). There is also some suggestion that regular supplementation can reduce eye stress potentially reducing the chances of developing problems with the eyes as this review discusses (7).
Baicalin appears to have some potential for treating cancer too. A study showed that a 100 mg/kg dose over 28 days decreased tumor growth and cancer cell proliferation in mice with colon cancer (8). Another study showed that when taken orally over just 7 days it was able to increase T cell activity (in particular helper and regulatory T cell types) against colon cancer (9).
Studies also suggests that it has application in protecting the skin via an antioxidant effect and can reduce UV induced apoptosis (10-11). This suggests it may have possible application in reducing the effects of photoaging.
A combination of baicalin and baicalein was able enhance breast cancer cell apoptosis by downregulating the level of bcl-2 (this resists apoptosis in cancer and senescent cells) and increasing P53 via the ERK/p38 MAPK pathway (12).
The antioxidant properties of baicalin are also well studied (13-14).
How To Take Baicalin?
Baicalin supplements are best taken in doses of 200-800 mg in multiple doses, once in the morning and once again at night. As with any dietary supplement always consult your physician prior to taking extract of baicalin.
It is not recommended that children take baicalin. It should also not be used during pregnancy or during breastfeeding.
If you experience symptoms of weakness, abdominal pain, dizziness, skin irritation or other side effects while taking extract of baicalin, stop taking it immediately and consult your physician.
Purchasing a standardized baicalin extract with a purity rating of higher than 90% is the best way to maximize the benefits of rosmarinic acid while eliminating any undesirable side effects. Quality dietary supplements are subjected to rigorous laboratory analysis and strict quality control standards. There is no substitute for quality when it comes to purchasing nutritional supplements so always ensure you buy the best quality products. Always purchase your nutritional supplements from a trusted vendor that thoroughly researches every product that they recommend to their customers.
Hui, K. M., Wang, X. H., & Xue, H. (2000). Interaction of flavones from the roots of Scutellaria baicalensis with the benzodiazepine site. Planta medica, 66(01), 91-93.
Wang, F., Xu, Z., Ren, L., Tsang, S. Y., & Xue, H. (2008). GABA A receptor subtype selectivity underlying selective anxiolytic effect of baicalin. Neuropharmacology, 55(7), 1231-1237.
Chen, C., Li, X., Gao, P., Tu, Y., Zhao, M., Li, J., … & Liang, H. (2015). Baicalin attenuates Alzheimer-like pathological changes and memory deficits induced by amyloid β1–42 protein. Metabolic brain disease, 30(2), 537-544.
Ding, H., Wang, H., Zhao, Y., Sun, D., & Zhai, X. (2015). Protective Effects of Baicalin on Aβ1–42. Cellular and molecular neurobiology, 35(5), 623-632.
Zhuang, P. W., Cui, G. Z., Zhang, Y. J., Zhang, M. X., Guo, H., Zhang, J. B., … & Lin, Y. X. (2013). Baicalin regulates neuronal fate decision in neural stem/progenitor cells and stimulates hippocampal neurogenesis in adult rats. CNS neuroscience & therapeutics, 19(3), 154-162.
Xiao, J. R., Do, C. W., & To, C. H. (2014). Potential therapeutic effects of baicalein, baicalin, and wogonin in ocular disorders. Journal of Ocular Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 30(8), 605-614.
Hayasaka, S., Kodama, T., & Ohira, A. (2012). Traditional Japanese herbal (kampo) medicines and treatment of ocular diseases: a review. The American journal of Chinese medicine, 40(05), 887-904.
Yang, B. L., Chen, H. J., Chen, Y. G., Gu, Y. F., Zhang, S. P., Lin, Q., & Zhu, P. (2012). Effects of baicalin on an orthotopic transplantation mouse model of mismatch repair gene deficient colorectal cancer. Zhonghua wai ke za zhi [Chinese journal of surgery], 50(9), 843-847.
Zou, Y., Dai, S. X., Chi, H. G., Li, T., He, Z. W., Wang, J., … & Wan, Z. (2015). Baicalin attenuates TNBS-induced colitis in rats by modulating the Th17/Treg paradigm. Archives of pharmacal research, 38(10), 1873-1887.
Wang, S. C., Chen, S. F., Lee, Y. M., Chuang, C. L., Bau, D. T., & Lin, S. S. (2013). Baicalin scavenges reactive oxygen species and protects human keratinocytes against UVC-induced cytotoxicity. In Vivo, 27(6), 707-714.
Bosch, R., Philips, N., Suárez-Pérez, J. A., Juarranz, A., Devmurari, A., Chalensouk-Khaosaat, J., & González, S. (2015). Mechanisms of photoaging and cutaneous photocarcinogenesis, and photoprotective strategies with phytochemicals. Antioxidants, 4(2), 248-268.
Zhou, Q. M., Wang, S., Zhang, H., Lu, Y. Y., Wang, X. F., Motoo, Y., & Su, S. B. (2009). The combination of baicalin and baicalein enhances apoptosis via the ERK/p38 MAPK pathway in human breast cancer cells. Acta Pharmacologica Sinica, 30(12), 1648-1658.
Shieh, D. E., Liu, L. T., & Lin, C. C. (1999). Antioxidant and free radical scavenging effects of baicalein, baicalin and wogonin. Anticancer Research, 20(5A), 2861-2865.
Gao, Z., Huang, K., Yang, X., & Xu, H. (1999). Free radical scavenging and antioxidant activities of flavonoids extracted from the radix of Scutellaria baicalensis Georgi. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)-General Subjects, 1472(3), 643-650.