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Cancer Chemother Pharmacol. 2003 Dec;52(6):453-8. Epub 2003 Aug 27.

Scutellaria baicalensis extract decreases cisplatin-induced pica in rats.

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  • 1Tang Center for Herbal Medicine Research, Department of Anesthesia & Critical Care, The Pritzker School of Medicine, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.



Nausea/vomiting are significant side effects associated with the use of chemotherapy in cancer patients. Treatment of nausea/vomiting caused by cisplatin, a potent chemotherapeutic agent and one of the most emetogenic stimuli, requires a combination of different antiemetic drugs. In this study, we investigated the effects of Scutellaria baicalensis, an antioxidant herbal medicine, on cisplatin-induced nausea using a rat model.


Rats react to emetic/nausea-producing stimuli, such as cisplatin, with altered feeding habits, manifested by pica or increased consumption of kaolin (a type of clay). We measured pica in rats to quantify cisplatin-induced nausea, and to evaluate the antinausea effect of pretreatment with S. baicalensis extract (SbE) given intraperitoneally.


Cisplatin at 3 mg/kg induced significant pica accompanied by reduced food intake, suggesting the presence of nausea. Hence, this cisplatin dose was selected for testing the antinausea activity of SbE. Cisplatin-induced pica decreased significantly when animals were pretreated with SbE at doses of 1 mg/kg and 3 mg/kg ( P<0.01). At a higher SbE dose (10 mg/kg), kaolin consumption increased, rather than further decreased, and was significantly different from that in the groups treated with low SbE doses.


SbE pretreatment decreased cisplatin-induced kaolin intake in the rat model of simulated nausea, suggesting that SbE and its active constituent(s) may play a therapeutic role in chemotherapy-induced emesis. Absence of therapeutic effect at the highest tested SbE dose could have been a result of prooxidant activity often associated with excess antioxidant concentration.

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