The bright yellow flowers of tansy have been a beacon to herbalists for centuries and now British and Spanish scientists have found antiviral properties which could be used in a vaccine for herpes.
Common in Europe and Asia, Tanacetum Vulgare - known as Golden Buttons or Mugwort among many folk names - has been known as a remedy for centuries. Everything from rheumatism to intestinal worms and sores to fertility problems have been treated by this pretty little plant which was grown in Emperor Charlemagne's herb garden.
Research now published in Phytotherapy Research confirms that Tansy could have an important medical use.
Professor Francisco Parra of Universidad de Oviedo is leading a team trying to find scientific backing for traditional remedies.
He said: ''Our research focused on the anti-viral properties of tansy, especially the potential treatment it may represent for herpes''.
''We currently lack an effective vaccine for either HSV-1 or HSV-2 stands of the disease, which can cause long term infections.''
Professor Parra's team has found multiple anti-viral agents and could have a bright future as a mainstream medicine.
''Although the precise molecular targets for tansy extract require further research this study reveals the clear potential of tansy to treat the dermatological lesions caused by HSV,'' Parra said.
''This shows that systematic pharmacological and phytochemical studies such as this can play pivotal roles in the modernization of European traditional herbal medicines.''