Scutellaria barbata

Health Care Professional Information

Scientific Name
Scutellaria barbata
Common Name

Barbat skullcap, Ban Zhi Lian, Banjiryun

Clinical Summary

Scutellaria barbata is a perennial herb prevalent in Korea and southern China. It is used along with other herbs in traditional Chinese medicine to treat bacterial infections, hepatitis, tumors, and as a diuretic. It should not be confused with Scutellaria baicalensis.

Data from in vitro studies suggest that S. barbata has antibacterial (1), antimutagenic (2), and anticancer (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (10) (11) (12) properties. The flavonoid components are thought responsible for the anticancer activity. Small studies of S. barbata show that it is safe and may benefit patients with advanced breast cancer (13) (14). Further research is needed.

Purported Uses
  • Bacterial Infections
  • Cancer treatment
  • Hepatitis
  • Hepatocellular Carcinoma
  • Flavonoids: Apigenin, Luteolin, Scutellarin, carthamidin, isocarthamidin, wogonin
  • Essential Oil: Hexahydrofarnesylaetone, 3,7,11,15-tetramethyl-2-hexadecen-1-ol, Menthol,
  • E-1-(4'-hydroxyphenyl)-but-1-en-3-one
  • Pheophorbide
  • Neoandrographolide
Mechanism of Action

In vitro studies have shown that Scutellaria barbata exerts anticancer effects via caspase-dependent apoptosis (6) (7) (8), and by downregulating Bcl-2 protein that is expressed by tumor cells (11). S.barbata also increased macrophage function in a murine carcinoma cell line that resulted in inhibition of tumor growth (3). It was shown to affect the metabolism of mutagenic compounds such as benzopyrene, thereby reducing their ability to bind DNA (2).

  • Sensitivity to Scutellaria barbata
  • Pregnancy
Adverse Reactions

None reported

Literature Summary and Critique

In vitro studies show that S. barbata has anticancer effects and phase I evaluation indicated safety of this herb. Further study is needed to determine efficacy.

Dosage (Inside MSKCC Only)
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  1. Sato Y, et al. Phytochemical flavones isolated from Scutellaria barbata and antibacterial activity against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. J Ethnopharmacol 2000; 72(3):483-488.
  2. Wong BY, Lau BH, Teel RW. Chinese medicinal herbs modulate mutagenesis, DNA binding and metabolism of benzo[a]pyrene 7,8-dihydrodiol and benzo[a]pyrene 7,8-dihydrodiol-9,10-epoxide. Cancer Lett 1992; 62(2):123-131.
  3. Wong BY, et al. Oldenlandia diffusa and Scutellaria barbata augment macrophage oxidative burst and inhibit tumor growth. Cancer Biother Radiopharm 1996; 11(1):51-56.
  4. Chan JY, et al. Pheophorbide a, a major antitumor component purified from Scutellaria barbata, induces apoptosis in human hepatocellular carcinoma cells. Planta Med 2006; 72(1):28-33.
  5. Goh D, Lee YH, Ong ES. Inhibitory effects of a chemically standardized extract from Scutellaria barbata in human colon cancer cell lines, LoVo. J Agric Food Chem 2005; 53(21):8197-8204.
  6. Kim DI, et al. Regulation of IGF-I production and proliferation of human leiomyomal smooth muscle cells by Scutellaria barbata D. Don in vitro: isolation of flavonoids of apigenin and luteolin as acting compounds. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 2005; 205(3):213-224.
  7. Yin X, et al. Anticancer activity and mechanism of Scutellaria barbata extract on human lung cancer cell line A549. Life Sci 2004; 75(18):2233-2244.
  8. Powell CB, et al. Aqueous extract of herba Scutellaria barbatae, a chinese herb used for ovarian cancer, induces apoptosis of ovarian cancer cell lines. Gynecol Oncol 2003; 91(2):332-340.
  9. Chen JK, Chen TT. Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology, 2nd ed. California: Art of Medicine Press; 2004.
  10. Yu J, Liu H, Lei J, et al. Antitumor activity of chloroform fraction of Scutellaria barbata and its active constituents. Phytother Res. 2007 Sep;21(9):817-22.
  11. Kim KW, Jin UH, Kim DI, et al. Antiproliferative effect of Scutellaria barbata D. Don. on cultured human uterine leiomyoma cells by down-regulation of the expression of Bcl-2 protein. Phytother Res. 2008 May;22(5):583-90.
  12. Ozmen A, Madlener S, Bauer S, et al. In vitro anti-leukemic activity of the ethno-pharmacological plant Scutellaria orientalis ssp. carica endemic to western Turkey. Phytomedicine. 2009 Jul 1. [Epub ahead of print].
  13. Rugo H, Shtivelman E, Perez A, et al. Phase I trial and antitumor effects of BZL101 for patients with advanced breast cancer. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2007 Sep;105(1):17-28. Epub 2006 Nov 17.
  14. Perez AT, Arun B, Tripathy D, et al. A phase 1B dose escalation trial of Scutellaria barbata (BZL101) for patients with metastatic breast cancer. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2010 Feb;120(1):111-8.

Consumer Information

How It Works

Bottom Line: Scutellaria barbata has been studied for its anticancer effects. More research is needed.
Scutellaria barbata is an herb found in Korea and southern China. It is used with other herbs in traditional Chinese medicine to treat bacterial infections, hepatitis, and tumors. Laboratory studies have shown S. barbata can limit the growth of cancer cells. It is also effective against some bacteria. Small studies show that S. barbata may benefit patients with advanced breast cancer. Further studies are needed.

Purported Uses
  • Hepatitis
    There is no scientific evidence to support this use.
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
    Cell-based studies showed that S. barbata is effective, but data from human studies are lacking.
  • Bacterial Infections
    There is evidence from laboratory studies that supports this use.
  • Cancer treatment
    Several laboratory studies have shown that S. barbata has anticancer properties. Small studies report that it may have benefits in patients with advanced breast cancer.
Do Not Take If
  • You are allergic to S. barbata
  • You are pregnant
Side Effects

None reported

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