Old folk remedy revived: How tansy may be a treatment for herpes

Feb 22, 2011

For centuries tansy has been used as a folk remedy, but now scientists from Britain and Spain believe the plant may have medical benefits after all, as a treatment for herpes. The team's findings, published in Phytotherapy Research, are the result of joint work between two teams to established scientific evidence for traditional medicines.

Tansy, Tanacetum vulgare, is a flowering plant found across mainland Europe and Asia. From the Middle Ages onwards the plant, whose folk names include Golden Buttons and Mugwort, has been used as a remedy for various conditions, from fevers to rheumatism. However, it's supposed medical benefits have always been questioned.

"Our research focused on the anti-viral properties of tansy, especially the potential treatment it may represent for herpes," said lead author Professor Francisco Parra from the Universidad de Oviedo. "We currently lack an effective vaccine for either HSV-1 or HSV-2 stands of the disease, which can cause long term infections."

Professor Parra's team which specialises in investigating new antiviral compounds, both through design or by screening natural plant extracts, began joint work on the properties of tansy with the research group led by Dr Solomon Habtemariam from the University of Greenwich, which studies European medicinal plants to establish the scientific evidence for traditional medicines.

Through a mechanistic-based antiherpetic activity study, the teams revealed which constituents of the plant are responsible for .

"Our study revealed that parthenolide is not one of the major anti HSV-1 principles of tansy, as has been suggested. However we found that tansy does contains known including 3,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid (3,5-DCQA) as well as axillarin, which contributes to its antiherpetic effect," said Parra. "This shows that multiple properties of the plant are responsible for the supposed antiviral activity of tansy."

The joint study used an established anti-HSV study model on both crude extracts of the aerial parts and roots of tansy, as well as some purified compounds to analyse the plants anti-viral activity.

"Although the precise molecular targets for tansy extract require further research this study reveals the clear potential of tansy to treat the dermatological lesions caused by HSV, concluded Parra. "This shows that systematic pharmacological and phytochemical studies such as this can play pivotal roles in the modernisation of European traditional herbal medicines."

Explore further: A high-fat diet may alleviate mitochondrial disease

Related Stories

Secret life of bees now a little less secret

Feb 01, 2011

Many plants produce toxic chemicals to protect themselves against plant-eating animals, and many flowering plants have evolved flower structures that prevent pollinators such as bees from taking too much pollen. ...

Herpes on the rise in Australia

May 19, 2006

One in eight Australian adults has been infected with the virus causing genital herpes, with the rate one in five for women aged 35-44, a study said.

Herpes drug inhibits HIV replication, but with a price

Nov 06, 2008

The anti-herpes drug acyclovir can also directly slow down HIV infection by targeting the reverse transcriptase (RT) enzyme, researchers report in this week's JBC. This beneficial effect does pose a risk though, as HIV-in ...

Cashew seed extract an effective anti-diabetic

Jul 14, 2010

Cashew seed extract shows promise as an effective anti-diabetic, according to a new study from the University of Montreal (Canada) and the Université de Yaoundé (Cameroun). Published in the journal Molecular Nu ...

Recommended for you

A high-fat diet may alleviate mitochondrial disease

Jun 30, 2015

Mice that have a genetic version of mitochondrial disease can easily be mistaken for much older animals by the time they are nine months old: they have thinning grey hair, osteoporosis, poor hearing, infertility, ...

Cheek muscles hold up better than leg muscles in space

Jun 30, 2015

It is well known that muscles need resistance (gravity) to maintain optimal health, and when they do not have this resistance, they deteriorate. A new report published in the July 2015 issue of The FASEB Journal, however, sugges ...

Sialic acid: A key to unlocking brain disorders

Jun 30, 2015

A new report published in the July 2015 issue of The FASEB Journal suggests that a common molecule found in higher animals, including humans, affects brain structure. This molecule may play a significant role in how brain ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.