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23 February 2011
Old folk remedy could treat herpes
by George Atkinson

For centuries, the plant tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) has been used as a folk remedy, and now European scientists believe the plant may be beneficial as a treatment for herpes.

Writing in the journal Phytotherapy Research, the researchers explain that the flowering plant tansy (also known as Golden Buttons and Mugwort) has traditionally 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 in Spain. "We currently lack an effective vaccine for either HSV-1 or HSV-2 stands of the disease, which can cause long term infections."

Parra's team of researchers specializes in investigating new antiviral compounds, both through design or by screening natural plant extracts. They worked jointly with a research group led by Dr Solomon Habtemariam, from the University of Greenwich. Through a mechanistic-based antiherpetic activity study, the researchers found which constituents of the plant are responsible for antiviral activity.

"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 antiviral agents including 3,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid [3,5-DCQA] as well as axillarin, which contributes to its antiherpetic effect," explained Parra. "This shows that multiple properties of the plant are responsible for the supposed antiviral activity of tansy."

"Although the precise molecular targets for tansy extract require further research this study reveals the clear potential of tansy," concluded Parra. "Studies such as this can play pivotal roles in the modernization of European traditional herbal medicines."

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Source: Phytotherapy Research

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