Bioactive compounds and health benefits of some palm species traditionally used in Africa and the Americas

segunda-feira, março 11, 2019

Resultado de imagem para palmeiras nativas do brasilEthnopharmacological relevance

Author: Tânia da Silveira Agostini-Costa

According to previous ethno-medicinal reviews, Cocos nucifera, Elaeis guineensis and Phoenix dactylifera are among the main palms which are often used on the American and African continents to treat infections, infestations and disorders in the digestive, respiratory, genito-urinary, dermal, endocrine, cardiovascular, muscular-skeletal, mental and neural systems, as well as neoplasms, dental issues and metabolic and nutritional disorders. In addition, one or more species of the wild genera Acrocomia, Areca, Astrocaryum, Attalea, Bactris, Borassus, Calamus, Chamaedorea, Chamaerops, Euterpe, Hyphaene, Mauritia, Oenocarpus and Syagrus have a high number of records of these ethno-medicinal uses. The most used parts of the palm tree are the fruits, followed by roots, seeds, leaves and flower sap.

Aim of the study

This review discusses the phytochemical composition and the pharmacological properties of these important ethno-medicinal palms, aiming to provide a contribution to future research prospects.

Materials and methods

Significant information was compiled from an electronic search in widely used international scientific databases (Google Scholar, Science Direct, SciFinder, Web of Science, PubMed, Wiley on line Library, Scielo, ACS Publications), and additional information was obtained from dissertations, theses, books and other relevant websites.


Palms, in general, are rich in oils, terpenoids and phenolic compounds. Fruits of many species are notable for their high content of healthy oils and fat-soluble bioactive compounds, mainly terpenoids, such as pigment carotenoids (and provitamin A), phytosterols, triterpene pentacyclics and tocols (and vitamin E), while other species stood out for their phenolic compounds derived from benzoic and cinnamic acids, along with flavan-3-ol, flavone, flavonol, and stilbene compounds or anthocyanin pigments. In addition to fruits, other parts of the plant such as seeds, leaves, palm heart, flowers and roots are also sources of many bioactive compounds. These compounds are linked to the ethno-medicinal use of many palms that improve human health against infections, infestations and disorders of human systems.


Palms have provided bioactive samples that validate their effectiveness in traditional medicine. However, the intensive study of all palm species related to ethno-medicinal use is needed, along with selection of the most appropriate palm accessions, ripe stage of the fruit and /or part of the plant. Furthermore, the complete profiles of all phytochemicals, their effects on animal models and human subjects, and toxicological and clinical trials are suggested, which, added to the incorporation of improved technological processes, should represent a significant advance for the implementation of new opportunities with wide benefits for human health.

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Page: Science Direct

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