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Lyles, James [1], Kim, Austin [2], Nelson, Kate [3], Quave, Cassandra [4].

Investigation into the chemical paradox of a Hypericum perforatum (St. John’s Wort) traditional skin remedy.

Hypericum perforatumL., Hypericaceae (St. John’s Wort), is a well-known medicinal herb often associated with the treatment of anxiety and depression. However, there are many traditional topical applications of H. perforatum for skin and soft tissue infections. An oleolite preparation of the flowers is widely used in traditional medicine across Eastern Europe and the Balkans. A mixture of H. perforatum flowers and olive oil is made and the preparation allowed to age in the sun for at least 40 days, until the oil color becomes a bright blood red. Recent research has shown that H. perforatum flower oleolite reduces both wound size and healing time. In addition, various H. perforatum preparations have demonstrated antibacterial and antifungal activity, including activity against MSRA.
H. perforatum
has been well characterized chemically. Many secondary metabolites have been identified including: naphthodianthrones (hypericin), phloroglucinols (hyperforin), flavonoid glycosides (hyperoside), biflavones and anthocyanidins. Phloroglucinol derivatives are widely distributed in the genus but only found in the reproductive tissues. The phloroglucinol hyperforin and its derivatives have been reported as being responsible for the antibacterial activity H. perforatum. However, phloroglucinols are quite unstable with light and heat and thus should not be present in the traditional oleolite preparation of H. perforatum. Additionally, hypericin can cause phototoxic skin reactions if ingested or absorbed into the skin. Therefore the established chemistry presents an interesting paradox to the traditional preparation of H. perforatum. The chemical responsible for the antibacterial bioactivity should degrade in the sunlight as the traditional oleolite is prepared. Alternately, if the hypericin is present in established bioactive levels, the traditionally prepared oleolite should cause photosensitivity; yet none is reported. In this research we examined several extracts of H. perforatum and compared them to traditionally made H. perforatum oleolite to better understand the chemical composition of this remedy.


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1 - Emory University, Center for the Study of Human Health, 1557 Dickey Drive, Anthropology 306, Atlanta, GA, 30322, USA
2 - Emory University, Atlanta, GA, 30322, USA
3 - Emory University, Dermatology, Atlanta, GA, 30322, USA
4 - Emory University School of Medicine, Dermatology, 615 Michael St., Whitehead 105L, Atlanta, GA, 30322, USA

Keywords:
Hypericum perforatum
St. John’s Wort
oleolite
antibacterial
skin infection
phytochemistry.

Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
Number:
Abstract ID:83
Candidate for Awards:None