The Polyphenolic Composition of Cistus incanus Herbal Tea and Its Antibacterial and Anti-adherent Activity against Streptococcus mutans

Planta Med. 2015 Dec;81(18):1727-35. doi: 10.1055/s-0035-1557822. Epub 2015 Aug 20.


The Mediterranean plant Cistus incanus is rich in polyphenols and has shown several pharmacological activities, mainly antibacterial effects. Furthermore, in situ studies revealed that a C. incanus infusion reduces the initial bacterial adhesion in the oral cavity due to the polyphenols, an indication that C. incanus might reduce the risk of caries disease. In the present study, the polyphenols from four different commercial C. incanus herbal teas were extracted by standardized accelerated solvent extraction for in vitro tests and by an infusion for in situ tests. Both extracts were characterized qualitatively and quantitatively by high-performance liquid chromatography and only the polyphenol content differed slightly. By means of diode array detection and mass spectrometry, 29 polyphenols, including ellagitannins, flavanols, and glycosylated flavonols, were identified. Thereby, only quantitative but no qualitative differences between the four samples were detected. Furthermore, the in vitro antibacterial activity of the C. incanus accelerated solvent extracts against Streptococcus mutans, one of the primary cariogenic bacterial species, was examined using a live/dead assay (BacLight®). With this approach, C. incanus yielded antibacterial properties. Additional in situ experiments indicated that rinses with a C. incanus infusion reduced the initial bacterial colonization of enamel samples exposed to oral fluids for over eight hours. Furthermore, it was shown by transmission electron microscopy that the application of a C. incanus infusion modifies the ultrastructure of the acquired enamel pellicle, yielding a more electron-dense morphology. It can be assumed that the polyphenols are responsible for the observed effects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / isolation & purification
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Bacterial Adhesion / drug effects*
  • Cattle
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Cistus / chemistry*
  • Dental Caries / microbiology
  • Dental Enamel / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Plant Extracts / isolation & purification
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Polyphenols / isolation & purification
  • Polyphenols / pharmacology*
  • Streptococcus mutans / drug effects*
  • Streptococcus mutans / isolation & purification
  • Teas, Herbal
  • Young Adult


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Plant Extracts
  • Polyphenols
  • Teas, Herbal