Wogonin is a natural product isolated from the Skullcap plant Scutellaria baicalensis native to China. It is isolated from the root of the plant. There is a specific area of the root in which wogonin is found in the highest concentration. The isolation process is relatively simple. Wogonin is similar in nature to the general category of products known as bio-flavonoids.
The American variant of the plant, Scutellaria lateriflora, is also used as a natural herbal product. However, in the case of this variant, the active agents are found in the above ground portion of the plant. It is interesting to note that Skullcap is in the mint family of plants. Of course, mint teas have been used for medicinal purposes for many years.
While Skullcap has been used as a Chinese herbal medicine for centuries it is only recently that scientific research has focused on specific derivatives of it, such as wogonin, as a potential therapeutic agent for a number of diseases. The health benefits of wogonin can be characterized into two general categories: anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant.
Inflammation is a normal function of the immune system. Inflammatory processes can be activated for a number of reasons including infection, allergies and injury. Infection in these normal circumstances is usually localized and temporary. A number of cells in the body have the ability to release factors that are said to be pro-inflammatory, meaning that their presence may trigger an inflammatory response. For instance, when we get a small cut the area around the cut might swell and become red as a natural course of the healing process. The swelling and redness are associated with a localized inflammatory response. In such instances as these there are mechanisms that prevent the inflammation from lasting too long or spreading throughout the whole body.
Chronic inflammation – sustained whole body inflammation, is now recognized as a serious medical problem associated with a number of diseases including obesity, type II diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, hypertension, Alzheimer’s and osteoarthritis (OA). In the case of OA, we have been treating it with systemic over the counter (OTC) anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen for years. Unfortunately, a systemic approach with these OTC and other anti-inflammatory agents can have side effects that can be serious.
A number of scientific studies have shown that wogonin is a safe but highly effective natural anti-inflammatory. As such, it is an ideal candidate to treat OA. Wogonin reduces inflammation in several ways. First, it reduces the release of pro-inflammatory molecules (those that enhance inflammation) from a number of cell types. This has the effect of reducing the likelihood that a rise in inflammation might occur. Second, it minimizes the effect that pro-inflammatory signals have on target cells. In other words, it dampens the inflammatory response in a cell that has received pro-inflammatory signals. Thus wogonin lowers both the external (outside the cell) and internal (inside the cell) inflammatory signal.
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are reactive molecules in our bodies that contain oxygen. Found in nature, they are also a by-product of normal metabolic activities in the cells of the body. Their reactive nature can cause harm to molecules in the body. They can even lead to cell death. Consequently, the body has natural anti-oxidant safety nets that function to protect us from the ROS that are naturally produced in an ongoing manner.
In disease or abnormal physiologic states, sometimes referred to as oxidative stress, ROS can build up beyond the body’s natural ability to disable them. We now understand that a number of chronic diseases are associated or involved with ROS, including OA. Some people take anti-oxidants to help protect themselves from these damaging molecules. Wogonin is a naturally occurring anti-oxidant. It has been shown to protect cells from death caused by a build-up of ROS.
Multiple Benefits of Wogonin
Wogonin is a naturally occurring molecule that exhibits both anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. It is a unique molecule with highly beneficial properties to help the body fight the effects of inflammation and ROS. As such it has been tested as a treatment for a number of diseases associated with inflammation and ROS including OA.