Skull Cap Herb (Ban Zhi Lian)
Besides of Bai Hua She She Cao (Heydyotis) and Ban Bian Lian (Lobelia), Skull Cap Herb (Ban Zhi Lian) is also one of the most popular Chinese herbs for cancer. Reported by lots of clinical data in China, these three are often combined together in treatments for a variety of tumors like breast cancer. And thanks to the affordability and easy access, they are also highly regarded as the poor’s cancer herbs, let alone it can do a lot more than that.
What is skullcap herb?
Scullcap herb is one of perennials, 15 to 50cm high, sparsely pubescent on rachis to glabrous. Roots are rather slender. Stems are usually cespitose, thinner, square-column-shaped, and with dark purple or brownish green surface. Leaves are usually opposite, with short petiole, most shrinking but triangular ovate or lanceolate after flatten, 1.5 to 3cm long, 0.5 to 1cm wide; blunt at front end, broadly cuneate at base, integrifolious or margin few unsharp obtusely dentate; upper surface dark green, and lower surface grayish green. Flowers are solitary in axils of upper branches and stem, calyxlobes blunt or rounder; corolla bilabiate, brownish yellow or light bluish violet, about 1.2cm long, and pubescent. Fruits are oblate and light brown. And it is nearly odorless and slightly bitter.
What is it used for?
Medicinally there are two major species of skullcap plant – scutellaria lateriflora (American Skullcap) and herba scutellariae barbatae (Chinese skullcap). Since these two medicinal herbs are native to different continents respectively, they are used for different medicinal purposes by local residents.
Main benefits of this healing herb are to eliminate anxiety and thus help stabilize physical condition. In the past, North American Indians used it in herbal remedies for insect-bite and snakebites, overexcitation, painful menstruation, and rabies, etc. Later skull cap herb was introduced to European countries as a hydrophobic drug, which hence earned it other nicknames like maddog weed, maddog skullcap, and mad weed.
Now it has been made into herbal supplements, tea, extract, and tinctures because of containing many flavonoids and active mineral elements, which help stimulate and strengthen the nervous system so that it is frequently used as central nervous system agent. As the supplement, it effectively eases abnormal emotions caused by busy life such as jitter, nervousness, hysteria, neurasthenia, depression, and crisis awareness, etc.
However, it might cause unexpected side effects in overdose, such as blurred vision, arrhythmia, coma, bewilderment, and ballism, etc. In addition, this natural herb shouldn’t be used during pregnancy period.
From the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it is acrid, bitter, and cold in nature and covers meridians of lung, liver, and kidney. Main functions are to clear heat-toxicity, eliminate blood stasis, and promote diuresis. Main uses and indications are furunculosis, pyogenic infections, venomous snake bite, traumatic injury, edema, and jaundice. Usual dosage is 15 to 30 grams, or 30 to 60 gram of freshly harvested, in decoction. And more can be used externally.
Related Chinese herbal formulas
Barbat skullcap contains alkaloid, flavonoids, sterides, phenols, and tannin. Confirmed by animal experiments, it has a certain inhibition to sarcoma 180, ehrlich ascites carcinoma, and cerebroma, etc. Japanese scholars ever conducted an experiment in vitro for screening of antitumor activity among 800 species. And the result revealed that scullcap had 100% inhibition ratio in vitro to JTc-26 oncocyte while 50% to normal cells. And institutes of traditional Chinese medicine have brought forward lots of proof through experiments and treatments clinically.
(1). Gastric cancer. It was reported that 182 intermediate and advancing cases had been treated with the combination pill mainly made of skullcap and heydyotis. The patients took them from 1 month to 10 years. The results showed that 46 cases cured basically (symptoms disappeared, canceration disappeared observed under gastroscope, and more than 3 years survived), 52 obviously effective, 45 effective, and 39 ineffective. Clinical effects confirmed that the longer time of taking medicine the better efficacy it had;
(2). Esophagus cancer. There were reports that People’s Hospital of Nanzhang County in Hubei provice treated 25 cases mainly by a compound prescription, which consists of Barbat skullcap, Pu Gong Ying (Dandelion), Huang Yao Zi (Dioscorea Bulbifera Tuber), Huang Lian (Coptis), Ban Xia (Pinellia), and Gua Lou (Trichosanthes Fruit). Among them, 9 cases were obviously effective (symptoms disappeared consciously, cancer cells disappeared by cytological examination, basal layer cell severe hyperplasia, cancer cell shrunk or destroyed, and local lesion disappeared observed by X-machine), 9 effective, 7 ineffective, and 3 dead, at a total effective rate of 60%;
(3). Liver cancer. Reported by the Second Hospital of Jilin, 50 intermediate and advancing cases were treated mainly by Lian Hua Pian, comprised of skullcap, QI YE YI ZHI HUA (Paris Rhizome), Niu Huang (Cattle Gallstone), Shan Ci Gu (Cremastra), Tian Qi (Pseudoginseng Root), Wu Gong (Centipede), and E Zhu (Zedoaria Rhizome). The results showed that 9 cases cured basically, 8 obviously effective, and 14 effective, at a total effective rate of 62%.
Potential side effects and contraindications
TCM wise, skull cap herb is generally considered safe and with little side effects if guided correctly by an experienced herbalist. If any doubt, or need more professional opinions, it is highly recommended consulting your TCM Physicians. Besides, it shouldn’t be used for those of blood deficiency and pregnant woman.