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In vitro screening of traditional medicines for anti-HIV activity: memorandum from a WHO meeting



Type of Spiritual Experience


Epimedium grandiflorum (large flowered barrenwort, bishop's hat) is a species of flowering plant in the family Berberidaceae, native to China, Japan and Korea. It is known as dâm dương hoắc in Vietnamese.

Glycyrrhiza uralensis, is also known as Chinese liquorice.  Liquorice root, or 'radix glycyrrhizae', is one of the 50 fundamental herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine, where it has the name gancao (kan-tsao; Chinese: 甘草) It is usually collected in spring and autumn, when it is removed from the rootlet and dried in the sun. Liquorice root is most commonly produced in the Shanxi, Gansu and Xinjiang regions of China.

Castanospermum australe (Moreton Bay Chestnut or Blackbean), the only species in the genus Castanospermum, is a flowering plant in the family Fabaceae, native to the east coast of Australia in Queensland and New South Wales, and to the Pacific islands of Vanuatu and New Caledonia.

A description of the experience

Bull World Health Organ. 1989;67(6):613-8.

In vitro screening of traditional medicines for anti-HIV activity: memorandum from a WHO meeting.

[No authors listed]


Many plant products are being used by patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) in some countries without any scientific proof that they possess anti-HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) activity. Traditional healers are now offering their remedies for scientific evaluation, and a few studies provide information on the inhibitory activity against HIV of plants such as Viola yedoensis, Arctium lappa, Epimedium grandiflorum, Glycyrrhiza uralensis and Castanospermum australe.

Natural products can be selected for biological screening based on ethnomedical use, random collection or a chemotaxonomic approach (i.e., screening of species of the same botanical family for similar compounds), but the follow-up and selection of plants based on literature leads would seem to be the most cost-effective way of identifying plants with anti-HIV activity.

No single in vitro screening methodology for anti-HIV activity is ideal and confirmatory assays in multiple systems are needed to examine completely the potential use of a compound.

To promote further research in traditional medicine and AIDS, appropriate institutions will be identified where the different activities for the scientific evaluation of plants and their extracts for possible treatment of AIDS can be carried out.

PMID:  2633879

The source of the experience


Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Viral infection