Gynura Herb Fights Herpes Simplex Infections
The Gynura herb (Gynura procumbens) is a potent antiviral against herpes simplex virus 1 and HSV-2 according to human and laboratory research. Let’s take a look at the science and some of the active compounds for this antiviral herb.
In this article
What is Gynura?
Gynura procumbens and its relatives including Gynura pseudochina, Gynura nepalensis and others, has been used for thousands of years among the healing traditions of Africa, Indonesia, China, Malaysia, India and Thailand. The herb – also called African mistletoe has a reputation for its expansive healing abilities among traditional medicines. It has been used traditionally for inflammation, fevers, rases, headaches, constipation, hypertension, diabetes and even cancer.
The later use has been verified by several studies against different types of cancer, including breast cancer and bone cancer.
Several studies have also found that Gynura produces vasodilation – which means a relaxing and widening of the blood vessels. This of course reduces blood pressure.
Gynura have been found in different studies to contain coumarins, anthocyanins pyrrolizidine alkaloids, spirostanol and several anthocyanins.
The Gynura herb is also one of several herbs proven to have antiviral action against herpes simplex. According to a 2016 review of research on Gynura procumbens:
“Besides, the ethanolic extract of aerial plant parts has been demonstrated to exhibit virucidal and antireplicative activity against herpes simplex virus HSV-1 and HSV-2.”
Laboratory research on HSV-1 and HSV-2
The team of researchers, from Thailand’s Mahidol University, Germany’s Freiburg University and Australia’s Monash University, conducted a series of experiments with the Gynura herb. The first tests began in the laboratory, and the success of the herb led to a clinical (human) trial.
In the laboratory, the researchers tested Gynura against cells that were infected with herpes simplex-1 and herpes simplex-2 viruses.
The scientists tested several extracts of Gynura, and found that an ethanol extract of the crushed plant parts inhibited the replication of HSV-1 and HSV-2 viruses among the cells.
Using this evidence, the researchers then tested the same extract in a clinical study of patients infected with herpes labialis – an infection of either HSV-1 or HSV-2 that causes cold sores on the lips (labialis) or otherwise around the mouth or within the mouth.
While herpes labialis is typically an infection of HSV-1, the prevalence of HSV-2 infections is growing. Today it is estimated that up to 15% of herpes labialis is HSV-2.
Human clinical research on Gynura
The researchers tested 59 patients in a placebo-controlled double-blind study. They were randomized into three groups, and 19 patients were given either a 1% solution of Gynura in a herbal gel, 22 patients were given 2% solution herbal gel, and 18 patients were given a placebo.
After four days of treatment 51% of the treated groups had full crusting and 63% had a full healing of the cold sores within 7 days. This latter effect was 43% greater than among the placebo group.
Furthermore, the average cold sore healing rate was 8.7 days among the herbal gel treatment group, 8% faster than the placebo group.
While there was a faster healing time and significantly more patients were fully healed within 7 days, the researchers noted that the healing effect was not as great as it would have indicated from the laboratory studies.
The researchers concluded that the issue must have been the percentage of active ingredient in each herbal gel for the treated group. Only a 1% and 2% solution is a significantly small dilution rate for a medication.
The relatively low healing rate compared to what was expected, would likely “arise from the low participated patient number and insufficient extract concentration in the herbal product.”
Because this was the first study testing the plant against herpes using a precise dilution rate, it is more focused upon the safety of the medication than its efficacy. For this reason the researchers suggested additional studies should be conducted using higher dose rates.
Active Gynura compounds
In a 2017 study from Malaysia’s University of Kebangsaan, researchers isolated two compounds from Gynura that were found to inhibit viral infections such as herpes. The researchers found that trihydroxychalcone and dinaphtalene effectively boosted immunity and the removal of infections among the mucosal membranes.
In a 2017 study from the University of Sains Malaysia, researchers tested several compounds from Gynura were tested for their antioxidant abilities and cholesterol reduction(such as LDL and triglycerides). The researchers found that the primary active compounds in gynura in this regard were the di-caffeoylquinic acids present in the plant.
A number of other herbs fight herpes infections according to other studies.
Tan HL, Chan KG, Pusparajah P, Lee LH, Goh BH. Gynura procumbens: An Overview of the Biological Activities. Front Pharmacol. 2016 Mar 15;7:52. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2016.00052.
Jarikasem S, Charuwichitratana S, Siritantikorn S, Chantratita W, Iskander M, Frahm AW, Jiratchariyakul W. Antiherpetic Effects of Gynura procumbens. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:394865. doi: 10.1155/2013/394865.
uandani, Jantan I, Husain K. 4,5,4′-Trihydroxychalcone, 8,8′-(ethene-1,2-diyl)-dinaphtalene-1,4,5-triol and rutin from Gynura segetum inhibit phagocytosis, lymphocyte proliferation, cytokine release and nitric oxide production from phagocytic cells. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2017 Apr 11;17(1):211. doi: 10.1186/s12906-017-1726-z.
Murugesu K, Murugaiyah V, Saghir SAM, Asmawi MZ, Sadikun A. Caffeoylquinic Acids Rich versus Poor Fractions of Gynura procumbens: Their Comparative Antihyperlipidemic and Antioxidant Potential. Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2017;18(14):1132-1140.
Algariri K, Meng KY, Atangwho IJ, Asmawi MZ, Sadikun A, Murugaiyah V, Ismail N, Eteng MU. Hypoglycemic and anti-hyperglycemic study of Gynura procumbens leaf extracts. Asian Pac J Trop Biomed. 2013 May;3(5):358-66. doi: 10.1016/S2221-1691(13)60077-5.
Poh TF, Ng HK, Hoe SZ, Lam SK. Gynura procumbens causes vasodilation by inhibiting angiotensin II and enhancing bradykinin actions. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2013 May;61(5):378-84. doi: 10.1097/FJC.0b013e31828685b3.
Hew CS, Khoo BY, Gam LH. The anti-cancer property of proteins extracted from Gynura procumbens (Lour.) Merr. PLoS One. 2013 Jul 11;8(7):e68524. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0068524.
Ng HK, Poh TF, Lam SK, Hoe SZ. Potassium channel openers and prostacyclin play a crucial role in mediating the vasorelaxant activity of Gynura procumbens. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2013 Jul 23;13(1):188.
Wang H, Zhou JW, Fu DH, Zhou Y, Cheng WZ, Liu ZL. Gynura procumbens ethanolic extract suppresses osteosarcoma cell proliferation and metastasis in vitro. Oncol Lett. 2013 Jul;6(1):113-117.