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University of Iowa News Release

 

May 4, 2007

UI Scientist Part Of ISU Research On Echinacea, St. John's Wort

A University of Iowa microbiologist is part of an Iowa State University research team working to better understand the botanical supplements Echinacea and St. John's wort and their effects on human health.

Wendy Maury, Ph.D., associate professor of microbiology in the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, is a researcher with the Iowa Center for Research on Botanical Dietary Supplements based at ISU. The center recently received a three-year, $4.4 million funding renewal from the National Institutes of Health. The center, established in 2002, includes researchers from ISU, the UI, Yale University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's North Central Regional Plant Introduction Station in Ames.

Echinacea and St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) are two of the most popular herbal dietary supplements. Echinacea has commonly been used for upper respiratory infections or as an immune system stimulant, while St. John's wort has been regarded as a treatment for depression, insomnia, headache and rheumatism.

Scientists at the Iowa Center for Research on Botanical Dietary Supplements work with these plant materials, identify their chemical profiles and key compounds that contribute to health benefits, and define how they work. Over the past five years, center researchers have learned more about the supplements' antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.

UI researcher Maury is studying the antiviral activity of Echinacea and St. John's wort to determine if these herbal medicines have efficacy against HIV.

More information on the Iowa Center for Research on Botanical Dietary Supplements at ISU is available online at http://www.cdfin.iastate.edu/botanical/.

NOTE TO EDITORS: A detailed ISU news release is available online at http://www.iastate.edu/~nscentral/news/2007/may/botanical.shtml.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5139 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

MEDIA CONTACT: David Pedersen, 319-335-8032, david-pedersen@uiowa.edu.