One of the things I love most about medicinal herbs is that they heal the whole body.
Take Chinese skullcap, for example. You'd be hard-pressed to find a Western doctor who's even heard of it! But Traditional Chinese Medicine has used this one herb for more than 2,000 years to treat hundreds of conditions.
The Chinese skullcap's flower is sweet and delicate, but its root is a powerful healer.
The root of Chinese skullcap has been used to treat allergies… asthma… infections… diarrhea…fever… colds… and inflammation.
It can help heal headaches… arthritis… gout… high blood pressure… and heart disease. Research shows it may be even effective for treating bladder and liver cancer and hepatitis.
In my practice, I've been really impressed with the way Chinese skullcap heals difficult skin conditions like acne, eczema and psoriasis.
Now there's new research that shows this little herb doesn't just work on the surface of skin. It gets right down into the DNA of your skin cells. In fact, Chinese skullcap can actually reverse the aging of your skin cells. It can take years off your appearance. And it all has to do with your telomeres.
If you've been reading my newsletter for a while, you may have heard me talk about telomeres. They're the protective caps at the ends of your chromosomes. Every time a skin cell divides, telomeres get a little shorter. When telomeres get really short, your skin cells can no longer produce new healthy cells. Your skin begins to sag, wrinkle, dry out and look old.
It turns out that Chinese skullcap contains a powerful antioxidant called baicalin. Baicalin stops skin cells from aging. It works by restoring the telomere length of their chromosomes. Then your skin can make healthy, youthful new cells. And that keeps your skin acting years younger.
In one study, researchers blasted skin cells with UVA rays. That's the same kind of radiation you get from the sun. Skin cells without baicalin had their telomere lengths reduced by almost 70%. But baicalin was able to restore the telomeres to 65% of their original length, in spite of the radiation damage.1
Other studies prove baicalin:
- helps activate anti-aging genes in skin cells called P53 genes to prevent cell aging;
- helps skin cells repair damaging breaks in DNA caused by oxidative stress;2 and
- completely protects skin cells from free radical damage caused by too much sun.3
Protecting your skin cells' DNA and telomeres means your skin stays youthful and healthy. It can help increase skin firmness and elasticity. And it improves "skin restructuring," or the way your skin is able to repair and rejuvenate itself, especially after sun damage.
Big drug and beauty companies are desperately trying to capture the power of natural plant compounds like baicalin for new products. But they haven't been able to duplicate nature's design.
Here's how to use Chinese skullcap at home
- You can find Chinese skullcap in your local health food store or online. It's also known by its Chinese name, Huang Qin. It comes as a dried herb, tea, fluid extract and tincture. You'll get about 10 mg of baicalin in every gram of Chinese skullcap leaves.
- You can also find Chinese skullcap as a supplement. I recommend taking 400 to 600 mg per day with meals. Make sure you are buying a supplement, or the leaves, or an extract of scutellaria baicalensis. American skullcap (scutellaria lateriflora) is not the same and does not have the same biological effect.
I'm so impressed with the results I've seen that I've added baicalin to my rejuvenating night cream.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD, CNS
1. Min W, Gao Y, Lin B, Luo D. "Effects of baicalin on ultraviolet A-induced telomere damage in cultured human primary fibroblasts." Chinese Journal of Dermatology. 2011, 44(9) 639-642.
2. Chen X, Nishida H, Konishi T. "Baicalin promoted the repair of DNA single strand breakage caused by H2O2 in cultured NIH3T3 fibroblasts." Biol Pharm Bull. 2003;26(2):282-4.
3. Zhou B, Yin H, Xu Y, Wu D, Zhang Z, Yin Z, Permatasari F, Luo D. "Baicalin protects human skin fibroblasts from ultraviolet A radiation-induced oxidative damage and apoptosis." Free Radic Res. 2012;46(12):1458-71.