Several studies have shown baical skullcap constituents to be antioxidant in vitro and in vivo. Flavones produced a concentration-dependent protection of liposome membrane against UV-induced oxidation. The ability to scavenge free radicals and protect against the effects of lipid peroxidation (in this case caused by sunlight irradiation) may in part account for the herb's underlying mechanism of action (Gabrielska etal 1997).

Fourteen flavonoids and flavone glycosides have been demonstrated to possess good free radical scavenging properties in vitro (Gao et al 1999, Lin & Shieh 1996). Baicalin has been found to have the most potent antioxidant effect (Bochorakova et al 2003).

Baicalin's antioxidant effect is based on scavenging superoxide radicals, whereas baicalein is a good xanthine oxidase inhibitor. Xanthine oxidase inhibitors are known to be therapeutically useful for the treatment of hepatitis and brain tumours (Gao et al 2001).

Oxidative stress plays an important role in the pathological process of neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer's disease. The protective effects of baical flavonoids on the oxidative injury of neuronal cells have been demonstrated in vitro (Choi et al 2002, Gao et al 2001).

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