Preventive effects of skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis) extract in a mouse model of food allergy

J Ethnopharmacol. 2014 May 14;153(3):667-73. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2014.03.018. Epub 2014 Mar 15.


Ethnopharmacological relevance: Food allergy, which accompanies acute symptoms such as pruritus, vomiting, diarrhea, and lethal anaphylactic shock is an increasing clinical problem. Skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis Georgi) has been widely used as a traditional herbal medicine to treat inflammation, cancer, and allergy, but its effects in treating food allergy are not yet known.

Materials and methods: To examine the effect of skullcap on food allergy, female BALB/c mice were sensitized with 20 μg OVA and 2mg alum by intraperitoneal injection on day 0. From day 17, mice were orally challenged with OVA (50 mg) in saline every 3 days, for a total of six times. To investigate the preventive effect, skullcap (25 mg/kg) was orally administered every day from day 17 to 34.

Results: Food allergy symptoms were evaluated by the criteria for diarrhea, anaphylactic response, and rectal temperature. Severe symptoms of food allergy were observed in the sham group (diarrhea, 3 points; anaphylactic response, 2.6 points; rectal temperature, -8.36 °C. In contrast, the skullcap treatment group had a significantly suppressed OVA-induced anaphylactic response (1.3 points) and rectal temperature (-4.76°C). Moreover, both OVA-specific IgE, Th17 cytokine (IL-17), and Th2-related cytokines (IL-4, IL-5, IL-10, and IL-13), which increased with food allergy, were significantly inhibited by skullcap treatment.

Conclusion: We demonstrate that the administration of skullcap attenuates OVA-induced food allergy symptoms through regulating systemic immune responses of Th cells. These results indicate that skullcap may be a potential candidate as a preventive agent for food allergy.

Keywords: Food allergy; IL-17; IgE; OVA; Skullcap; Th2 cytokines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Allergens
  • Anaphylaxis / blood
  • Anaphylaxis / drug therapy
  • Anaphylaxis / etiology
  • Anaphylaxis / immunology
  • Animals
  • Anti-Allergic Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Allergic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Body Temperature / drug effects
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Diarrhea / blood
  • Diarrhea / drug therapy
  • Diarrhea / etiology
  • Diarrhea / immunology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Food Hypersensitivity / blood
  • Food Hypersensitivity / drug therapy*
  • Food Hypersensitivity / etiology
  • Food Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Ovalbumin
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Scutellaria baicalensis
  • Spleen / cytology
  • Spleen / immunology


  • Allergens
  • Anti-Allergic Agents
  • Cytokines
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Plant Extracts
  • Scutellaria baicalensis extract
  • Immunoglobulin E
  • Ovalbumin