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Herpes: Herb & Cream

By Merritt McKinney

Winter 1998/1999

San Diego -- In the first of two reports describing novel approaches to the sexually-transmitted disease herpes, a new animal study suggests that a cream applied before sexual intercourse may prevent infection with the disease.

If the cream proves effective in humans, it will offer women another way to protect themselves from the sexually transmitted disease.

In the study, researchers found that when a chemical compound called CTC-96 was applied vaginally to mice, none of the mice became infected after being exposed to herpes simplex-2 virus (HSV-2). And even when the strength of the cream was drastically reduced, only half of the mice contracted the virus, as reported at the ICAAC conference.

The researchers also have data showing that the cream can prevent herpes infection after exposure to the virus, although the evidence for this is still preliminary.

Another study found that a traditional Chinese remedy may help treat the symptoms of the disease. An extract of the plant Prunella vulgaris can relieve the symptoms of both HSV-1 and HSV-2.

Traditionally used in China to soothe sores, the substance helps speed up the healing of sores on both the genitals and around the mouth. The researchers believe that the compound works in two ways: by stopping the virus from growing within cells and by preventing it from binding to cells. The treatment holds promise, the investigators said, especially in cases when a person has become resistant to other available treatments.

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