A folk remedy may be an effective treatment for the sexually transmitted disease herpes according to Dr Solomon Habtemariam from the University of Greenwich's School of Science and Professor Francisco Parra at the Universidad de Oviedo in Spain.
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, its supposed medical benefits have always been questioned.
Joint work between research groups led by Dr Habtemariam from the School of Science at the University of Greenwich at Medway and Professor Francisco Parra at the Universidad de Oviedo in Spain, published in Phytotherapy Research, has revealed the clear potential of tansy as a treatment for herpes.
Dr Solomon Habtemariam says: "We have identified several compounds in the plant with strong antioxidant potential. Antioxidants are important for healing wounds and can be used to treat the skin eruptions and blister-like lesions or cold sores that are the symptoms of herpes. The drugs currently available to treat the disease are becoming less effective as the virus is developing resistance to them. Diseases such as genital herpes are also increasing due to immunosuppressive illnesses such as AIDS.
"Our studies have proved the scientific basis for many traditional medicinal plants. We are now able to identify even more structurally complex natural products and those that are present in plants in minute concentrations with our state-of-the-art analytical facilities. In collaboration with our international partners, we are searching for novel antidiabetic, antimicrobial, anticancer, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective agents from natural sources".