Scullcap Herb Compound Treats Leaky Gut Syndrome
A compilation of solid research evidence now points to the reality that the Baicalin compound extracted from the Scullcap herb can treat leaky gut syndrome – medically referred to as increased intestinal permeability.
The term ‘leaky gut’ is a misnomer: It’s not like a hose with a bunch of holes in it. It is more complicated than that. I explain the science in my book on the topic.
Rather, leaky gut syndrome is an inflammatory condition of the intestines.
The reality is that healthy intestines are designed to “leak” nutrients from the foods we eat into our bloodstream and liver. But healthy intestinal walls are also designed to block compounds that don’t belong in our bloodstream.
This all occurs as a result of a combination of immune factors, intestinal cell compounds such as zonula occludens-1 (ZO-1), the health of our liver, and our probiotic bacteria. All these and the cells’ structural strength (e.g., tight junctions) work together for intestinal health and healthy permeability. These together create a barrier capable of blocking unbroken food proteins and toxins that are not supposed to be in our bloodstream – while letting needed nutrients in.
When this system breaks down, the wrong compounds get into the bloodstream. That is why I prefer the more accurate medical term, increased intestinal permeability.
Regardless of what we call it, my book on the topic outline the real causes and natural solutions to this condition.
The role of Scullcap Baicalin for leaky gut
One natural solution has risen up gradually through the research ranks over the past decade. The specific compound the research shows has a healing effect upon damaged intestinal cells is called Baicalin.
Baicalin is a plant compound available in a few plants, but it’s leading source is from the roots of Chinese skullcap or Baikal Skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis).
American Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) also contains Baicalin as we’ll discuss below.
Baikal Skullcap and American Skullcap have been used for healing purposes for thousands of years for a myriad of conditions. Many of these conditions relate to inflammation of some sort. So Baikal Skullcap in particular has been the subject of laboratory research trying to determine its active anti-inflammatory compounds.
This has led to the finding of Baicalin as a significant anti-inflammatory compound.
Baicalin has been the subject of numerous studies that treated various inflammatory conditions. Some of these were in combination with other compounds.
These studies have indicated that Baicalin affects the intestinal tract in multiple ways. First, the studies have indicated that Baicalin helps ameliorate intestinal cell damage.
And second, the research indicates that Baicalin affects the intestine’s permeability in a favorable manner.
This has led to an understanding that Baicalin should not be taken with pharmaceuticals because it may affect the ability of those drugs to get through the intestines. For example, one study of 18 patients found that the compound blocked the absorption of the drug rosuvastatin.
But the research has also found that the Baicalin compound reduces intestinal inflammation and strengthens the intestinal wall. This is a good thing.
Clinical research indicates Baicalin intestinal effects
A 2016 study from Italy’s Federico II University tested 16 people with hyperuricemia. They found that giving a combination of nutraceuticals including Baicalin significantly reduced uric acid concentrations from the blood.
Much of our body’s uric acid comes through the intestinal wall. A healthy intestinal wall will reduce levels of uric acid from the intestines.
A 2015 study of 93 people included 63 cases of ulcerative colitis. Of these, 30 people had irritable bowel syndrome. The patients were given different doses of Baicalin, and their levels of intestinal inflammation were closely monitored.
The researchers found that the Baicalin significantly decreased levels of inflammatory cytokines such as IFN-gamma and IL-4. It also increased levels of IL-10 and balanced antibody levels.
These combined affects increased the intestinal health of the patients. They saw their episodes of intestinal inflammation reduce and their immunity was increased.
Lab research supports Baicalin intestinal effects
This clinical research is supported by a number of years worth of laboratory research. These studies have tested how intestinal cells react specifically to Baicalin.
The studies have indicated that Baicalin significantly helps reverse damage to intestinal cells, and reduces their inflammation factors.
For example, cells damaged with lipopolysaccharides (LPS) have been treated with Baicalin. This had the effect of reducing the damage, and increased production of zonula occludens-1. These tests also indicated that Baicalin increased the structural components of the intestinal cells. This helped render healthy gut permeability.
Sources of Baicalin
Clinical research has indicated that isolated Baicalin is safe to take. One placebo-controlled study tested 72 people, giving them between a 100 and 2,800 milligrams of Baicalin in chewable tablets.
The study found that Baicalin was safe. Less than one percent ended up in the bloodstream. There were no signs of liver or kidney toxicity, and no adverse effects.
But Baicalin can be obtained naturally from Baikal Skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis) and American Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora). However, these will also induce other effects of these plants, which tend to be relaxing and pain-relieving in addition to anti-inflammatory.
However, Baikal Skullcap roots will have greater content of Baicalin. One study found no Baicalin in Baikal skullcap leaves.
But American Skullcap leaves and the roots do also contain Baicalin. Therefore, a tea made of American Skullcap leaves will contain Baicalin, as will a powdered extract made from Baikal skullcap roots.
But Baikal skullcap leaves will not yield Baicalin according to the research.
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Case Adams is a California Naturopath and a Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and diplomas in Homeopathy, Aromatherapy, Bach Flower Remedies, Blood Chemistry, Clinical Nutritional Counseling and Colon Hydrotherapy. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies.