Scutellaria barbata

Purported Benefits, Side Effects & More

Scutellaria barbata

Purported Benefits, Side Effects & More
Scutellaria barbata

Common Names

  • Barbat skullcap
  • Ban Zhi Lian
  • Banjiryun

For Patients & Caregivers

Tell your healthcare providers about any dietary supplements you’re taking, such as herbs, vitamins, minerals, and natural or home remedies. This will help them manage your care and keep you safe.

What is it?

Scutellaria barbata has been studied for its anticancer properties, but more research is needed.

S. 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 in humans suggest that S. barbata may benefit patients with advanced breast cancer. Further studies are needed.

What are the potential uses and benefits?
  • To treat hepatitis

    Scientific evidence is lacking.
  • To treat bacterial infections

    Lab studies suggest benefit but additional studies are needed.
  • To treat cancer

    Lab studies suggest that S. barbata has anticancer properties. A few small studies in humans report that it may benefit patients with advanced breast cancer, but larger studies are needed.
What are the side effects?

None reported

What else do I need to know?

Do Not Take if:

  • You are allergic to S. barbata.
  • You are pregnant.

Special Point:

Scutellaria barbata should not be confused with Scutellaria baicalensis.

For Healthcare Professionals

Scientific Name
Scutellaria barbata
Clinical Summary

Scutellaria barbata is a perennial herb that is used along with other botanicals in traditional Chinese medicine to treat bacterial infections, hepatitis, and tumors. It is also used as a diuretic, and should not be confused with Scutellaria baicalensis.

In vitro studies suggest that S. barbata has antibacterial (1), antioxidant (15), antimutagenic (2), and anticancer (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (10) (11) (12) properties. A number of constituents including flavonoids are thought to be responsible for these activities. Animal models also suggest antitumor activity with S. barbata across a range of cancers (16) (17) (18) (19) (20). However, different extraction methodologies and/or plant origins have yielded varying degrees of antitumor effects (21).

A large long-term population study identified S. barbata among the single herbs used in TCM that may reduce risk of hepatocellular carcinoma in hepatitis B patients (9). Another study found association with improved overall survival (34). Small studies also suggest it is safe and may benefit patients with advanced breast cancer (13) (14). Further research is needed to confirm these effects.

Purported Uses and Benefits
  • Infections
  • Cancer
  • Hepatitis
Mechanism of Action

S. barbata possesses a range of antitumor activities via multiple intracellular targets (20), with major anticancer constituents identified as scutellarin, apigenin5-O-β-glucopyranoside, apigenin, p-coumaric acid, luteolin and 4’-hydroxywogonin (22). Polysaccharides in S. barbata demonstrate antioxidant and free radical-scavenging activity (15). Flavonoids and scutebarbatines can regulate immune function, with decreases in IL-17, IL-10, FOXP3, TGF-beta1, RORgammat, and IL-6 levels, and increases in IL-2 and IFN-gamma levels (23). Neo-clerodane diterpenoids also have demonstrated anticancer (24) and antiviral (25) activities.

Preclinical studies of S. barbata have focused mostly on colon, lung, and liver cancer models. In human colon cancer cells, S. barbata induces apoptosis and inhibits cell proliferation and angiogenesis via Akt and p53 modulation, Bax/Bcl-2 upregulation, decreased cyclin D1/CDK4 expression, G1/S cell cycle arrest, VEGF-A inhibition, and increased p21 expression (19) (20) (26) (27). In lung tumor models, S. barbata inhibits hypoxia-inducible factor-1 alpha and VEGF expression (18). Polysaccharides inhibit proliferation and downregulate phospho-c-Met expression and downstream phospho-Erk/Akt signaling (18). Apoptotic effects with the alkaloid scutebarbatine A occurs via cytochrome c and caspase-3/9 upregulation, and Bcl-2 downregulation (28).

In liver tumors, S. barbata flavonoids suppressed angiogenesis via VEGF regulation, MMP2/9 inhibition, and increased TIMP1/2 expression (17) (29). Total flavonoids induced increases in DNA fragmentation and mitochondrial pathway apoptosis (30). S. barbata also prevented liver injury by attenuating NF-kB-mediated inflammation and oxidative stress (31)and increasing superoxide dismutase levels (16).

S. barbata flavonoids have produced synergistic effects in combination with cisplatin in ovarian cancer cells (32). A proprietary aqueous S. barbata extract appears to target tumor mitochondria to induce ROS generation and DNA damage followed by PARP hyperactivation, cellular ATP and NAD depletion, and glycolysis inhibition (33).

  • Sensitivity to S. barbata
  • Pregnancy
Adverse Reactions

None reported

Dosage (OneMSK Only)
  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. Tsai TY, Livneh H, Hung TH, et al. Associations between prescribed Chinese herbal medicine and risk of hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with chronic hepatitis B: a nationwide population-based cohort study. BMJ open. Jan 25 2017;7(1):e014571.
  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. 2010 Jan;17(1):55-62.
  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.
  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.
  15. Ye CL, Huang Q. Extraction of polysaccharides from herbal Scutellaria barbata D. Don (Ban-Zhi-Lian) and their antioxidant activity. Carbohydr Polym. Aug 1 2012;89(4):1131-1137.
  16. Dai ZJ, Wu WY, Kang HF, et al. Protective effects of Scutellaria barbata against rat liver tumorigenesis. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2013;14(1):261-265.
  17. Dai ZJ, Lu WF, Gao J, et al. Anti-angiogenic effect of the total flavonoids in Scutellaria barbata D. Don. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2013;13:150.
  18. Shiau AL, Shen YT, Hsieh JL, et al. Scutellaria barbata inhibits angiogenesis through downregulation of HIF-1 alpha in lung tumor. Environ Toxicol. Apr 2014;29(4):363-370.
  19. Wei L, Lin J, Xu W, et al. Scutellaria barbata D. Don Inhibits Tumor Angiogenesis via Suppression of Hedgehog Pathway in a Mouse Model of Colorectal Cancer. Int J Mol Sci. 2012;13(8):9419-9430.
  20. Lin J, Chen Y, Cai Q, et al. Scutellaria Barbata D Don Inhibits Colorectal Cancer Growth via Suppression of Multiple Signaling Pathways. Integr Cancer Ther. Nov 13 2013;13(3):240-248.
  21. Meng QX, Roubin RH, Hanrahan JR. Ethnopharmacological and bioactivity guided investigation of five TCM anticancer herbs. J Ethnopharmacol. Jun 21 2013;148(1):229-238.
  22. Yao H, Li S, Hu J, et al. Chromatographic fingerprint and quantitative analysis of seven bioactive compounds of Scutellaria barbata. Planta Med. Mar 2011;77(4):388-393.
  23. Gong T, Wang CF, Yuan JR, et al. Inhibition of Tumor Growth and Immunomodulatory Effects of Flavonoids and Scutebarbatines of Scutellaria barbata D. Don in Lewis-Bearing C57BL/6 Mice. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:630760.
  24. Thao do T, Huang CY, Lin KT, et al. Using the gene expression signature of scutebarbalactone VN isolated from Scutellaria barbata to elucidate its anticancer activities. Nat Prod Commun. Feb 2015;10(2):353-355.
  25. Wu T, Wang Q, Jiang C, et al. Neo-clerodane diterpenoids from Scutellaria barbata with activity against Epstein-Barr virus lytic replication. J Nat Prod. Mar 27 2015;78(3):500-509.
  26. Zhang L, Cai Q, Lin J, et al. Chloroform fraction of Scutellaria barbata D. Don promotes apoptosis and suppresses proliferation in human colon cancer cells. Mol Med Rep. Feb 2014;9(2):701-706.
  27. Wei L, Lin J, Wu G, et al. Scutellaria barbata D. Don induces G1/S arrest via modulation of p53 and Akt pathways in human colon carcinoma cells. Oncol Rep. Apr 2013;29(4):1623-1628.
  28. Yang XK, Xu MY, Xu GS, et al. In vitro and in vivo antitumor activity of scutebarbatine A on human lung carcinoma A549 cell lines. Molecules. 2014;19(7):8740-8751.
  29. Dai ZJ, Wang BF, Lu WF, et al. Total flavonoids of Scutellaria barbata inhibit invasion of hepatocarcinoma via MMP/TIMP in vitro. Molecules. 2013;18(1):934-950.
  30. Gao J, Lu WF, Dai ZJ, et al. Induction of apoptosis by total flavonoids from Scutellaria barbata D. Don in human hepatocarcinoma MHCC97-H cells via the mitochondrial pathway. Tumour Biol. Mar 2014;35(3):2549-2559.
  31. Niu C, Sheng Y, Yang R, et al. Scutellarin protects against the liver injury induced by diosbulbin B in mice and its mechanism. J Ethnopharmacol. Apr 22 2015;164:301-308.
  32. Li J, Wang Y, Lei JC, et al. Sensitisation of ovarian cancer cells to cisplatin by flavonoids from Scutellaria barbata. Nat Prod Res. 2014;28(10):683-689.
  33. Chen V, Staub RE, Fong S, et al. Bezielle selectively targets mitochondria of cancer cells to inhibit glycolysis and OXPHOS. PLoS One. 2012;7(2):e30300.
  34. Chen SL, Ho CY, Lin WC, et al. The Characteristics and Mortality of Chinese Herbal Medicine Users among Newly Diagnosed Inoperable Huge Hepatocellular Carcinoma (≥10 cm) Patients: A Retrospective Cohort Study with Exploration of Core Herbs. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Sep 30;19(19):12480.
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