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

February 22, 2011, Wiley

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."

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Fabric imbued with optical fibers helps fight skin diseases

February 23, 2018
A team of researchers with Texinov Medical Textiles in France has announced that their PHOS-ISTOS system, called the Fluxmedicare, is on track to be made commercially available later this year. The system consists of a piece ...

DNA gets away: Scientists catch the rogue molecule that can trigger autoimmunity

February 22, 2018
A research team has discovered the process - and filmed the actual moment - that can change the body's response to a dying cell. Importantly, what they call the 'Great Escape' moment may one day prove to be the crucial trigger ...

Low-calorie diet enhances intestinal regeneration after injury

February 22, 2018
Dramatic calorie restriction, diets reduced by 40 percent of a normal calorie total, have long been known to extend health span, the duration of disease-free aging, in animal studies, and even to extend life span in most ...

Artificial intelligence quickly and accurately diagnoses eye diseases and pneumonia

February 22, 2018
Using artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques, researchers at Shiley Eye Institute at UC San Diego Health and University of California San Diego School of Medicine, with colleagues in China, Germany and Texas, ...

Gut microbes protect against sepsis—mouse study

February 22, 2018
Sepsis occurs when the body's response to the spread of bacteria or toxins to the bloodstream damages tissues and organs. The fight against sepsis could get a helping hand from a surprising source: gut bacteria. Researchers ...

Fertility breakthrough: New research could extend egg health with age

February 22, 2018
Women have been told for years that if they don't have children before their mid-30s, they may not be able to. But a new study from Princeton University's Coleen Murphy has identified a drug that extends egg viability in ...

0 comments

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.