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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2013, Article ID 316280, 10 pages
Research Article

Screening and Scoring of Antimicrobial and Biological Activities of Italian Vulnerary Plants against Major Oral Pathogenic Bacteria

1Dipartimento di Neuroscienze e Scienze Riproduttive ed Odontostomatologiche, Zona Ospedaliera, Via Pansini 5, 80131 Napoli, Italy
2Dipartimento di Medicina Molecolare e Biotecnologie Mediche, Zona Ospedaliera, Via Pansini 5, 80131 Napoli, Italy
3Dipartimento di Biologia, Complesso Universitario di Monte Sant’Angelo, Via Cintia 21, 80126 Napoli, Italy

Received 20 May 2013; Revised 12 August 2013; Accepted 13 August 2013

Academic Editor: Jenny M. Wilkinson

Copyright © 2013 Gianmaria F. Ferrazzano et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This study aims to evaluate the activity of Italian vulnerary plants against the most important oral pathogenic bacteria. This estimate was accomplished through a fivefold process: (a) a review of ethnobotanical and microbiological data concerning the Italian vulnerary plants; (b) the development of a scoring system to rank the plants; (c) the comparative assessment of microbiological properties; (d) the assessment of potential cytotoxic effects on keratinocyte-like cells and gingival fibroblasts in culture by XTT cell viability assay; (e) clinical evaluation of the most suitable plant extract as antibacterial agent in a home-made mouthwash. The study assays hexane (H), ethanol (E), and water (W) extracts from 72 plants. The agar diffusion method was used to evaluate the activity against Streptococcus mutans, Streptococcus sobrinus, Lactobacillus casei, and Actinomyces viscosus. Twenty-two plants showed appreciable activity. The extracts showing the strongest antibacterial power were those from Cotinus coggygria Scop., Equisetum hyemale L., Helichrysum litoreum Guss, Juniperus communis L., and Phyllitis scolopendrium (L.) Newman subsp. scolopendrium. The potential cytotoxic effect of these extracts was assessed. On the basis of these observations, a mouth-rinse containing the ethanolic extract of H. litoreum has been tested in vivo, resulting in reduction of the salivary concentration of S. mutans.