We studied the effects of Scutellaria baicalensis root on blood parameters and antioxidant enzyme activities in rabbits fed a high-cholesterol diet. Thirty-two New Zealand white rabbits were divided into four groups of eight animals each and fed one of four diets: standard (control), 1% pure cholesterol supplement (CH group), 1% pure cholesterol supplement and a 9% skullcap root supplement (CH + SR group) or just 9% skullcap root supplement (SR group).

After six weeks, the rabbits fed the high-cholesterol diets had significantly decreased RBC and Hb levels and significantly increased MCV, MCH and Fe levels. The skullcap root supplement had no adverse effects on hematological parameters. The values for RBC, Hb, HCT, MCV, MCH and MCHC were similar in the skullcap root-treated and control rabbits. We also observed a remarkable elevation in the serum TC, LDL and TG levels.

The rabbits fed the cholesterol diets showed decreased activity of the erythrocyte GSH-Px compared with the rabbits fed the standard diet. GSH-Px activity was significantly higher in the CH + SR group than the CH group. The erythrocyte SOD activity was also significantly decreased in the CH group yet significantly enhanced in the CH + SR rabbits.

These results suggest that dietary supplementation with skullcap root may improve rabbit antioxidant systems and protect against the risks of a high-cholesterol diet.

Source : B. Króliczewska1 et al., 2010. Effects of a skullcap root supplement on hematology, serum parameters and antioxidant enzymes in rabbits on a high-cholesterol diet. JAPAN online July 2010. doi: 10.1111/j.1439-0396.2010.01033.x