Review of Whole Plant Extracts With Activity Against Herpes Simplex Viruses In Vitro and In Vivo

J Evid Based Integr Med. 2021 Jan-Dec;26:2515690X20978394. doi: 10.1177/2515690X20978394.


Herpes simplex viruses, HSV-1 and HSV-2, are highly contagious and cause lifelong, latent infections with recurrent outbreaks of oral and/or genital lesions. No cure exists for HSV-1 or HSV-2 infections, but antiviral medications are commonly used to prevent and treat outbreaks. Resistance to antivirals has begun to emerge, placing an importance on finding new and effective therapies for prophylaxis and treatment of HSV outbreaks. Botanicals may be effective HSV therapies as the constituents they contain act through a variety of mechanisms, potentially making the development of antiviral resistance more challenging. A wide variety of plants from different regions in the world have been studied for antiviral activity against HSV-1 and/or HSV-2 and showed efficacy of varying degrees. The purpose of this review is to summarize research conducted on whole plant extracts against HSV-1 and/or HSV-2 in vitro and in vivo. The majority of the research reviewed was conducted in vitro using animal cell lines, and some studies used an animal model design. Also summarized are a limited number of human trials conducted using botanical therapies on HSV lesions.

Keywords: HSV; botanical; herbal medicine; herpes simplex; plant extract.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antiviral Agents / pharmacology
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Herpes Simplex* / drug therapy
  • Herpesvirus 1, Human*
  • Herpesvirus 2, Human
  • Humans
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Plant Extracts