Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial activities of Cocos nucifera var. typica

BMC Complement Altern Med. 2013 May 16:13:107. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-13-107.


Background: Teas from the husk fiber of Cocos nucifera are used in the folk medicine to treat arthritis and other inflammatory processes. Some works show that some varieties have biological activities. However, one of the main variety of the species, C. nucifera var. typica, known in Brazil as "gigante", was not studied yet. Thus, this study evaluates if this variety has the anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activities already reported in other varieties.

Methods: C. nucifera aqueous crude extract (10, 50, and 100 mg/kg) and the reference drugs morphine (1 mg/kg) and acetylsalicylic acid (100 mg/kg) were evaluated in models of inflammation (formalin-induced licking and subcutaneous air pouch). The antioxidant activity was evaluated by 2,2-diphenyl-1-picryl-hydrazyl-hydrate (DPPH) photometric assay and compared with those of the standards (quercetin, rutin, and ascorbic acid). The extract was also screened against Candida albicans, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), in the agar diffusion method. The minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) and minimal bactericidal concentration (MBC) were determined by the broth micro-dilution assay. Activities of combinations of the extract and antibiotics (methicillin or vancomycin) against MRSA were evaluated using checkerboard assays.

Results: The extract significantly inhibited the time that the animals spent licking the formalin-injected paws (second phase). The extract also inhibited the inflammatory process induced by subcutaneous carrageenan injection by reducing cell migration, protein extravasation, and TNF-α production. Additionally, the extract showed an antioxidant potential in vitro as good as standards in their antioxidant activity. The extract was active only against S. aureus and MRSA. MIC and the bactericidal concentrations were identical (1,024 μg/ml). The extract and methicillin acted synergistically against the clinical MRSA isolate, whereas an indifferent effect was detected when the extract was combined with vancomycin.

Conclusions: The extract exhibits anti-inflammatory activity through the inhibition of the cell migration. The mixture of extract constituents and methicillin could lead to the development of a new combination antibiotic against MRSA infections.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Infective Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antioxidants / chemistry
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Bacteria / drug effects
  • Candida albicans / drug effects
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Cocos / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Inflammation / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Plant Extracts