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Scutellaria Barbata (Ban Zhi Lian)

Close up of Barbated Skullcup Herb, also known as Scutellaria Barbata (Ban Zhi Lian)

What is Scutellaria Barbata (Ban Zhi Lian)?

Barbated Skullcap Root (ban zhi lian, 半枝莲) refers to the root of Scutellaria Barbata, a plant that has dish-shaped or helmet-shaped flowers. Since a long time ago, the dried roots of this plant has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Native American Medicine to treat a variety of ailments, ranging from diarrhoea to chronic pain.

Well known among the Cherokee and other native American tribes as a strong emmenagogue, Scutellaria Barbata was used in some tribes as a ceremonial plant to introduce young girls into womanhood. In the past, some native Americans also used the herb in herbal remedies for insect bites, snake bites, painful menstruation and rabies.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Ban Zhi Lian falls under the category of ‘Herbs that clear Heat and relieve toxicity’. Such herbs are used to clear inflammatory and infectious conditions that are referred to as ‘Internal Heat’. With both antibacterial and antiviral properties, such herbs can relieve toxicity while removing infectious toxins from the body.

Cold in nature, Scutellaria Barbata can help individuals who have too much Heat in their body, such as those experiencing a Yang Excess or a Yin Deficiency, to restore a healthy yin-yang balance. Bitter in taste, Scutellaria Barbata can cleanse the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements. In particular, the herb targets the Liver, Lungs, stomach and large intestine.

Functions and Benefits of Scutellaria Barbata (Ban Zhi Lian)

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) shows that Scutellaria Barbata has the following health benefits.

Scutellaria Barbata can clear Heat and remove toxicity. It is thus often indicated for abscesses, sores, furuncles, swollen lymph nodes and sore throat and bleeding due to Blood Heat. The herb can also be used to treat snake bites and swellings caused by trauma. Scutellaria Barbata is also believed to have the ability to help treat various types of cancer and hepatitis.

Scutellaria Barbata can induce diuresis to promote urination and alleviate oedema caused by Damp-Heat and ascites from cirrhosis. In addition, Scutellaria Barbata can activate blood to dispel Bood Stasis and stop bleeding. For example, the herb can help to treat hematemesis, epistaxis and painful bloody urinary dysfunction.

Other than the above Ban Zhi Lian benefits, modern studies have suggested that Skullcap may help to boost mood and reduce symptoms of anxiety by stimulating gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that helps calm nerves. This herb has been used in traditional medicine practices as a sedative and treatment for conditions like insomnia and anxiety. Scutellaria Barbata may thus help to prevent brain-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease, depression and Parkinson’s Disease.

Scutellaria Barbata contains large amounts of flavonoids, which are believed to be active components that contribute to its sedative and antispasmodic activity. This makes it an effective herb for menstrual cramps.

Scutellaria Barbata contains powerful antiviral and antibacterial effects, as well as anti-inflammatory and anticancer compounds against certain cancers, such as colorectal cancer and pancreatic cancer. Many individuals who suffer from arthritis and inflammatory bowel diseases thus use Scutellaria Barbata as a home remedy. Scutellaria Barbata can also protect our cells from free radical damage and reduce oxidative stress. This means that this herb can help to strengthen one’s immune system, prevent chronic diseases and address inflammatory diseases. 

Scutellaria Barbata may also help to promote insulin production by the pancreas and help to regulate insulin levels in the body. The herb may lower cholesterol levels and help to prevent diabetes. This also means that the herb may lower the chances of atherosclerosis, heart attacks, coronary heart diseases, and strokes that often accompany the build-up of plaque in the arteries.

Effective in reducing fever caused by flu, Scutellaria Barbata has been shown to relieve other flu-related symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, anxiety and irritation. Scutellaria Barbata may also help to reduce muscle spasms and treat epilepsy.

Close up of Barbated Skullcup Herb, also known as Scutellaria Barbata (Ban Zhi Lian)
Scutellaria Barbata (Ban Zhi Lian) aids in water retention by promoting urination.

How to Use Scutellaria Barbata (Ban Zhi Lian)

Scutellaria Barbata is available in various forms of supplements, such as tea and tinctures. For example, Scutellaria Barbata is often combined with other herbs to make tea. Such tea is usually available in health food stores and online. Tinctures containing Scutellaria Barbata and other calming herbs such as valerian root are also available as well. In addition, you can find other forms of the herb in herbal stores too.

Cautions and Side Effects of Scutellaria Barbata (Ban Zhi Lian)

Scutellaria Barbata should not be used by individuals who are experiencing Blood Deficiency or pregnancy. Also, Scutellaria Barbata has been associated with Liver damage and even Liver failure in some individuals. However, these reported incidents involved supplements containing multiple herbs, not just Scutellaria Barbata alone. That being said, individuals with conditions that affect their Liver functions should avoid this herb.

Scutellaria Barbata has also been associated with Lung complications, which may cause side effects like irregular heartbeat, tics, anxiety, drowsiness and mental confusion.

Scutellaria Barbata may interact with many common medications, such as blood thinners, cholesterol-lowering medications and painkillers. Hence, if you are consuming other medications, do consult your healthcare provider before deciding to add Scutellaria Barbata to your healthcare routine.


Here is a summary for Scutellaria Barbata (Ban Zhi Lian):

  • Herb name (Chinese): 半枝莲
  • Herb name (Pin Yin): bàn zhī lián
  • Herb name (English): Barbated Skullcup Herb
  • Herb name (Botanical): Herba Scutellariae Barbatae
  • Origin of species: Scutellaria barbata D. Don
  • Part(s) of herb used: Whole plant
  • Geo-specific habitat(s): Hunan, Henan
  • Taste(s) & Properties: Pungent, bitter; Cold; Administrates the Lung, Liver and Kidney Meridians
  • Actions: Eases inflammatory conditions, such as insect or snake bites; Relieves throat discomfort and pain resulting from physical injuries; Aids in water retention by promoting urination

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