Journal of ethnopharmacology

Antifungal activity of 40 TCMs used individually and in combination for treatment of superficial fungal infections.

PMID 25625353


A series of 40 important Traditional Chinese Medicines (TCMs), which were reported effective in treating superficial fungal infections of the skin in Chinese clinical trial publications and Chinese Herbal Classics, were chosen for the investigation of the individual and combination antifungal properties against 8 superficial fungal strains in vitro. Plant preparations were followed the theory of TCM by using sterile water boiled with plant material at 100°C to produce water decoction of the tested sample. The minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) of each plant for each fungus was determined. For the compatibility investigation, both invariable (same amounts of each tested TCM) and variable (different amounts of each tested TCM) combinations were evaluated. All the tested TCMs demonstrated varying degrees of antifungal activities against one or more of the tested superficial fungi, and 16 of which were effective on all of the fungi. Strong antifungal activities were exhibited by water decoction of 7 TCMs with MIC at about 100μg/ml, and among these effective antifungal extracts, 4 TCMs including Melaphis chinensis, Polygonum cuspidatum, Punica granatum and Schisandra chinensis showed the significantly inhibitory activities against all of the fungi with MICs among 50μg/ml. Most of the invariable combinations of the above-mentioned 4 TCMs showed synergic effects against 4 of the least susceptible fungi strains, especially the invariable combination of Punica granatum, Melaphis chinensis and Schisandra chinensis, with the MIC at 23.4μg/ml. However, their further variable combinations investigation demonstrated that only the combination of 7.5g Punica granatum with 10g Melaphis chinensis and 7.5g Schisandra chinensis showed synergic effect with the MIC at19.5μg/ml. The present study aimed the discovery of therapeutically useful agents for treatment of superficial fungal infections. Findings suggested that the combination of 3 TCMs including Punica granatum, Melaphis chinensis and Schisandra chinensis showed potential antifungal activity and thus appeared to be promising agents in preventing superficial fungal skin infectious in a natural way through herbal resources. The synergic effects of invariable and variable combinations of the tested TCMs threw a light on our further animal model and clinical practice as well as the bio-guided isolation and identification of the antifungal compounds.