Date of Completion

Spring 4-22-2016

Thesis Advisor(s)

Marcy Balunas

Honors Major

Pharmacy Studies


Alternative and Complementary Medicine | Integrative Medicine | Natural Products Chemistry and Pharmacognosy | Oncology


ETHNOPHARMACOLOGICAL RELEVANCE: Scutellaria barbata is a common herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) most often used to treat cancer. S. barbata has been found to exhibit efficacy both in vitro and in vivo on a variety of cancer types. Similarly encouraging results have been shown in patients with metastatic breast cancer from Phase Ia and Ib clinical trials. This study aims to elucidate the current use of S. barbata by TCM practitioners and in current Western research.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with fifteen TCM practitioners in Beijing and Nanjing, China to understand their clinical use of S. barbata. Practitioners were also asked to comment on the future development of TCM using Western research methods and the potential for integration of the two types of medicine in clinical therapy. Statistical analyses were conducted to compare use of S. barbata by disease and in conjunction with other herbs.

RESULTS: Current Western research related to S. barbata is focused on cancer treatment, which corresponds to the most common use of S. barbata by TCM practitioners. Other common uses that practitioners reported included infection and inflammation, for which Beijing practitioners reported use of S. barbata more often than Nanjing practitioners (pHedyotis diffusa was found to be the most commonly cited herb to pair with S. barbata for cancer treatment (pS. barbata extract, TCM practitioners reported using smaller doses of S. barbata in shorter durations, in combination with numerous other herbs with the goal to potentiate therapeutic efficacy and mitigate side effects. In addition, TCM practitioners repeatedly emphasized symptom differentiating as the key to achieving maximum therapeutic potential of S. barbata, a factor typically overlooked in Western research.

CONCLUSION: Similarities and differences in diagnosis and treatment regimens between TCM practitioners and Western research have the potential to shed light on possible new avenues of research. Additional research may prove beneficial on possible synergistic effects of herbs commonly used with S. barbata, such as Hedyotis diffusa and Lobelia chinensis.