May 19, 2003 - An experimental herpes treatment derived from an herb known as Prunella vulgaris may one day help prevent and treat both types of the herpes virus that cause cold sores and genital herpes.
Researchers say preliminary tests show mice and guinea pigs treated with the herb developed significantly fewer of the cold sores and genital sores or lesions associated with herpes than untreated animals.
The results of the study were presented today at the 103rd General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in Washington, D.C.
"Prunella vulgaris [also known as self heal] is a perennial plant found in China, the British Isles, Europe, and North America," says researcher Song Lee of the Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, in a news release. "P. vulgaris has been described as a hot water infusion to treat sores in the mouth and throat, as an astringent for internal and external purposes, as a crude anti-cancer drug, and as an herbal remedy to lower high blood pressure."
In the study, researchers created a topical cream containing a compound derived from Prunella vulgaris and tested it on mice and guinea pigs infected with an experimental version of the herpes simplex virus-1, and herpes simplex-2, typically known as genital herpes.
Researchers found that mice infected with herpes type 1 who received the herbal herpes treatment were significantly less likely to die of their disease than untreated mice. And guinea pigs infected with herpes type 2 and treated with the cream developed much fewer skin lesions than those who did not receive treatment.
"Given the high incidence of herpes infection and the emergence of acyclovir-resistant strains of herpes viruses, the [experimental herbal herpes treatment] may prove to be a useful new anti-herpes drug," says Lee.