FLAVONOIDS FRIDAY: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BAICALIN FLAVOR, FRAGRANCE, AND HEALTH BENEFITS

Flavonoids Friday: Everything You Need to Know about Baicalin Flavor, Fragrance, and Health Benefits

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How cool would it be to have the nickname Skullcap?

Ask Scutellaria baicalensis Georgi. Common in East Asian countries such as China, Korea, Taiwan, and Japan, this medicinal herb has been used for thousands of years in the treatment of inflammatory diseases, tumors, diarrhea, and even to enhance longevity.

In Chinese medicine, the root of the herb is boiled or used in tinctures in a preparation called Huang-Qin. Used in combination with other herbs, Huang-Qin can treat colds, improve liver function in folks with hepatitis B, and even prolong the survival of those with squamous cell carcinoma.

Amazing, right? But of course, you’re asking: how is that related to cannabis?

Turns out, Skullcap contains three flavonoids: baicalin, baicalein, and wogonin. Baicalin also exists in cannabis in small amounts. Flavonoids help the cannabis plant fend off predators and provide color, as well as deliver health benefits for humans, like boosted antioxidants and immunity.

In this article, we’ll check out what baicalin has to offer.

WHAT DO FLAVONOIDS LIKE BAICALIN DO FOR PLANTS AND HUMANS?

If someone sent you on a scavenger hunt to find flavonoids, you wouldn’t have to try too hard: they’re found in almost all fruits and vegetables. Flavonoids are responsible for their color and, like terpenes, protect against UV radiation.

In cannabis, flavonoids contribute to something called the entourage effect. This is a term to describe how cannabinoids like THC and CBD, terpenes, and flavonoids all work together to produce the benefits of cannabis.

Think about it: two strains can be closely related and have the same amount of THC or CBD, but still produce different psychological and physiological effects. In addition, different strains can have minor but important differences in the color, taste, and smell of the strains. Why is that? Those differences are attributed to the combination of all compounds— cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids— working together to produce something special.

The study of baicalin’s role in cannabis is still in its infancy. However, we know a lot about its benefits, which we’ll explore next.

BENEFITS OF BAICALIN

Although Huang-Qin is a well-known medicine, there has not been much research into the benefits of baicalin alone in humans.

So far, there has been only one major study. Folks over at the Wuxi No.2 People’s Hospital in China found that 500 mg of baicalin a day reduced blood lipids and inflammation in people with rheumatoid arthritis and coronary artery disease.

The rest of the information presented here is from studies on animals or cells in the lab. While indicative of a lot of possibilities, it’s important to note that we can’t yet claim any of these benefits in humans.

  • On the psychological side of things, baicalin has been shown to reduce anxiety in mice without the negative effects, like cognitive impairment or drowsiness, usually seen in standard anxiety medications.
  • In one study, the Skullcap herb was shown to have powerful anticancer effects, inhibiting the growth of lymphocytic leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma cell lines. Of all three flavonoids present in the herb*,* baicalin was the “primary mediator” of this anticancer activity.
  • Baicalin also helps out the brain. It’s been shown to improve memory impairment and reduce neuronal damage, which one study’s authors theorized could aid with dementia. In addition, baicalin is being proposed as a treatment for stroke and neurodegenerative diseases because of its ability to reduce ischemia, a condition where the blood supply to major organs is restricted.
  • Like its terpene and cannabinoid friends, baicalin is an anti-inflammatory agent. One study found that the flavonoid reduced the inflammation of human umbilical cells that were treated with high amounts of glucose. This study makes a promising case for baicalin’s effects in people with diabetes, for whom fluctuating glucose levels are a problem.
  • Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a major global health problem. One study showed that baicalin paired with a first-line antiviral drug called entecavir created an increased inhibitory effect on the DNA replication of HBV.
  • Lastly, preeclampsia is an unpredictable but common complication of pregnancy where the liver and kidneys become damaged. Turns out, baicalin can help. In one study, the flavonoid was shown to protect the livers and kidneys of rats with preeclampsia, which is promising data for human mothers and their newborns.

Pretty amazing, right? One compound is an anti-anxiety, anticancer, anti-neurodegenerative, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, AND anti-kidney-and-liver-failing agent. Baicalin is a true renaissance compound.

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BAICALIN AND CANNABIS

As we mentioned, there’s not much research out right now about baicalin’s particular effects on cannabis. However, ACS Laboratory does test for baicalin content, so if you submit your product for a full scope analysis, we’ll be able to quantify this multimodal flavonoid for research and marketing purposes. 

HOW TO CONSUME BAICALIN

If you want to consume baicalin, your best bet is purchasing Huang-Qin in the form of tinctures, oils, or the herb itself. That, or you can try growing Scutellaria baicalensis in your garden or hydroponics set up.

However, if you want to consume just baicalin alone, then there are also powders and oils you can find as well, mostly from China and other East Asian countries where the Skullcap herb is commonly grown.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Baicalin is a flavonoid that has an incredible diversity of benefits. Although it may not be as well-studied in cannabis as quercetin or apigenin, its promising results in animal and human cell studies can make you easily excited for what future research will unveil.

At ACS Laboratory we test for 16 flavonoids including baicalin. As a CLIA-licensed laboratory, we can perform human studies on bioavailability, or how much of a flavonoid enters the body and has an effect. This gives us the ability to do real research, so you can be assured that information is backed by the power of science.

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