Traditionally used in Chinese medicine to cool blood, stimulate circulation of blood, and eliminate toxins from the skin, lithospermum is considered to be anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-microbial. Research by pharmaceutical companies has focused on effects of Shikonin, considered to be the key ingredient in Lithospermum, which is showing promise as a protector and stimulant of the immune system and a possible treatment for cancer because of anti-tumour effects.


Shikonin extracted from medicinal Chinese herbs exerts anti-inflammatory effect via proteasome inhibition. Lu L, Eur J Pharmacol. 2011 May 11;658(2-3):242-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2011.02.043. Epub 2011 Mar 24 Protein Modification and Degradation Lab, Department of Pathophysiology, Guangzhou Medical College, Guangzhou, Guangdong, PR China.

Shikonin derivatives protect immune organs from damage and promote immune responses in vivo in tumour-bearing mice. Long S, GuangZhi Y, BaoJie G, Wei X, YanYong H, YingLi W, Yang Z, LiHua L. Phytother Res. 2012 Jan;26(1):26-33. doi: 10.1002/ptr.3503. Epub 2011 Apr 28. Department of Laboratory Medicine, the First Clinical College, Jilin University, Changchun 130021, China.