Brazilian plants as possible adaptogens: an ethnopharmacological survey of books edited in Brazil

J Ethnopharmacol. 2007 Feb 12;109(3):493-500. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2006.08.024. Epub 2006 Sep 1.


In a survey, from Brazilian books, we searched plants that are in popular use for purposes resembling those of an adaptogen. This study focused on 24 books by authors from diverse regions in the country, resulting in a total of 1317 citations of uses related to a possible adaptogen effect from approximately 766 plants. Only species native to Brazil, cited in at least four books, were selected, resulting a total of 33 species, belonging to 24 families. Of these, four species have been studied previously in relation to effects that are considered as part of an adaptogen effect (anti-stress, memory enhancement, increased physical and/or sexual performance): Heteropterys aphrodisiaca (Malpighiaceae), Paullinia cupana (Sapindaceae), Ptychopetalum olacoides (Olacaceae), and Turnera diffusa (Turneraceae). Three others--Pfaffia glomerata, Pfaffia paniculata (Amaranthaceae), and Trichilia catigua (Meliaceae)--have also been the object of pharmacological studies that support their use as a possible adaptogen, but they are listed in less than four books. The overall results obtained in the present review of Brazilian folk literature reveals that Brazil is rich in plants with potential adaptogen-like effect, but lacks pharmacological studies (mostly clinical ones) to confirm these therapeutic properties.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Books
  • Brazil
  • Ethnopharmacology
  • Medicine, Traditional
  • Plants, Medicinal*