Free-radical scavengers and antioxidants from Peumus boldus Mol. ("Boldo")

Free Radic Res. 2003 Apr;37(4):447-52. doi: 10.1080/1071576031000090000.


The dry leaves of Peumus boldus (Monimiaceae) are used in infusion or decoction as a digestive and to improve hepatic complains. Preliminary assays showed free-radical scavenging activity in hot water extracts of boldo leaves, measured by the decoloration of a methanolic solution of the 1,1-diphenyl-2-picryl-hydrazyl radical (DPPH). Assay-guided isolation led to the active compounds. Catechin proved to be the main free-radical scavenger of the extracts. Lipid peroxidation in erythrocytes was inhibited by boldo extracts and fractions at 500 microg/ml with higher effect for the ethyl acetate soluble and alkaloid fractions. The IC50 for catechin and boldine in the lipid peroxidation test were 75.6 and 12.5 microg/ml, respectively. On the basis of dry starting material the catechin content in the crude drug was 2.25% while the total alkaloid calculated as boldine was 0.06%. The activity of boldine was six times higher than catechin in the lipid peroxidation assay. However, the mean catechin:total alkaloid content ratio was 37:1. The relative concentration of alkaloids and phenolics in boldo leaves and their activity suggest that free-radical scavenging effect is mainly due to catechin and flavonoids and that antioxidant effect is mainly related with the catechin content The high catechin content of boldo leaves and its bioactivity suggest that quality control of Boldo folium has to combine the analysis of catechin as well as their characteristic aporphine alkaloids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / metabolism*
  • Aporphines / chemistry
  • Biphenyl Compounds
  • Catechin / chemistry
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Erythrocytes / metabolism
  • Free Radical Scavengers / metabolism*
  • Indicators and Reagents / pharmacology
  • Inhibitory Concentration 50
  • Lipid Peroxidation
  • Peumus / metabolism*
  • Phenol / metabolism
  • Picrates / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts*
  • Plant Leaves / metabolism
  • Superoxides / metabolism
  • Xanthine Oxidase / metabolism


  • Antioxidants
  • Aporphines
  • Biphenyl Compounds
  • Free Radical Scavengers
  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Picrates
  • Plant Extracts
  • Superoxides
  • Phenol
  • boldine
  • Catechin
  • 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl
  • Xanthine Oxidase