According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 35 million people in the world are infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the majority with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). Without treatment, HIV destroys the immune system and causes the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), which is a life-threatening disease. Scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen (Germany) have demonstrated that root extracts of the medicinal plant Pelargonium sidoides (geranium) contain compounds that attack human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) particles and prevent virus replication. A team led by Markus Helfer and Ruth Brack-Werner demonstrated that geranium plant extracts protect blood and immune cells from infection by HIV-1 by blocking the attachment of virus particles to host cells and thus preventing the virus from invading those cells. Chemical analyses revealed that the antiviral effect of the geranium extracts is mediated by polyphenols. The study authors write that: "Based on our data and its excellent safety profile, we propose that [geranium plant] extract represents a lead candidate for the development of a scientifically validated herbal medicine for anti-HIV-1 therapy with a mode-of-action different from and complementary to current single-molecule drugs."
Markus Helfer, Herwig Koppensteiner, Martha Schneider, Stephanie Rebensburg, Sara Forcisi, Constanze Müller, et al. “The Root Extract of the Medicinal Plant Pelargonium sidoides Is a Potent HIV-1 Attachment Inhibitor.” PLOS ONE, 10.1371; published 29 Jan 2014.
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