- University of Hamburg - Department of Biology - Biocenter Klein Flottbek

Antibacterial activity of hyperforin from St. John's wort

Hypericum perforatum

Extracts from Saint John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) are traditionally used as a mild psychotropic agent or to aid wound healing. The antibiotic compound produced by the plant was termed hyperforin. The recent availability of hyperforin in quantity and sufficient purity allowed investigations to the range of antibacterial activity. It was found to be inhibitory to Staphylococcus aureus multiresistant to conventional antibiotics as well as against other Gram-positive bacteria.

Preliminary tests indicate that hyperforin may be suitable to be orally administered in addition to local treatment of skin lesions.

The structure of hyperforin is derived from phloroglucinol which is expanded into a bicyclo [3,3,1] nonaendionol, substituted with several lipophilic isoprene chains. No other known antibiotic is similar in structure to hyperforin.




  model of hyperforin  

spin off/on
bicyclo [3,3,1] sceleton


Experimental details:
C M Schempp et al, Lancet 353 (1999) 2129

8-99 © Rolf Bergmann