A potent anti-herpetic compound was identified and purified to homogeneity from the leaves of Sapium sebiferum by plaque reduction assay using herpes simplex virus type 2. The chemical structure of the purified compound was determined by mass spectroscopy and proton and carbon-13 nuclear magnetic resonance as methyl gallate, methyl-3,4,5-trihydroxybenzoate. This is the first demonstration that methyl gallate is a potent anti-herpetic compound in vitro, present in high concentration in the leaves of S. sebiferum, a Chinese folk medicine for shingles.

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