Fighting Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR): Chinese Herbal Medicine as a source of novel antimicrobials – an update

Beverley C. Millar, Juluri R. Rao, John E. Moore

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Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has now emerged as a global public health crisis, requiring the discovery of new and novel antimicrobial compounds, that may be precursors of future therapeutic antibiotics. Chinese Herbal Medicine (CHM) comes with a rich pedigree of holistic and empirical usage in Asia for the last 5,000 years. Extracts of Anemarrhena asphodeloides Bunge, Angelica sinensis (Oliv.) Diels, Dianthus superbus L. Forsythiae fructus (Lian Qiao), Lonicerae flos (Jin Yin Hua), Naemorhedi cornu, Platycladus orientalis Franco, Polygonum aviculare, Polygonum cuspidatum, Poria cocos (Schw.), Rehmannia glutinosa (Gaertn.) DC, Rheum palmatum, Salvia miltiorrhiza Bunge, Scutellaria barbata, Scutellariae radix (Huang Qin) and Ursi fel (Xiong Dan) have shown to have antimicrobial properties against clinically significant Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacterial pathogens, as well as the mycobacteria (TB & non-tuberculous mycobacteria). Evidence is now beginning to emerge through systematic reviews of the outcomes of clinical studies employing Chinese Herbal Medicine to treat infections. Of the 106 Cochrane systematic reviews on CHM, 16 (circa 15%) reviews examine CHM in the context of treating a specific infection disease or state. This update examines direct antimicrobial effect of CHM on bacterial pathogens, as well as synergistic effects of combining CHM with conventional antibiotics.
Original languageEnglish
JournalLetters in Applied Microbiology
Early online date05 Jul 2021
Publication statusEarly online date - 05 Jul 2021


  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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