Antioxidant, antimicrobial and toxicological properties of Schinus molle L. essential oils

J Ethnopharmacol. 2014;151(1):485-92. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2013.10.063. Epub 2013 Nov 11.


Ethnopharmacological relevance: Schinus molle L. has been used in folk medicine as antibacterial, antiviral, topical antiseptic, antifungal, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumoural as well as antispasmodic and analgesic; however, there are few studies of pharmacological and toxicological properties of Schinus molle essential oils. The aim of this study was to evaluate the antioxidant and antimicrobial activities of Schinus molle leaf and fruit essential oils, correlated with their chemical composition and evaluate their acute toxicity.

Materials and methods: The chemical composition of Schinus molle leaf and fruit essential oils were evaluated by GC-FID and GC-MS. Antioxidant properties were determined using the 2,2-diphenyl-1-picryl-hydrazyl (DPPH) free radical and β-carotene/linoleic acid methods. Antimicrobial properties were evaluated by the agar disc diffusion method and minimal inhibitory concentration assay. Toxicity in Artemia salina and acute toxicity with behavioural screening in mice were evaluated.

Results: The dominant compounds found in leaf and fruit essential oils (EOs) were monoterpene hydrocarbons, namely α-phellandrene, β-phellandrene, β-myrcene, limonene and α-pinene. EOs showed low scavenging antioxidant activity by the DPPH free radical method and a higher activity by the β-carotene/linoleic acid method. Antimicrobial activity of EOs was observed for Gram+, Gram- pathogenic bacteria and food spoilage fungi. EOs showed totoxicity for Artemia salina and lower toxicity in Swiss mice.

Conclusions: The result showed that EOs of leaves and fruits of Schinus molle demonstrated antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, suggesting their potential use in food or pharmaceutical industries.

Keywords: American pepper; Biological activities; Essential oils; Schinus molle; Toxicological studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anacardiaceae / chemistry*
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antifungal Agents / chemistry
  • Antifungal Agents / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / chemistry
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Fruit / chemistry
  • Mice
  • Oils, Volatile / chemistry
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Oils, Volatile / toxicity
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry
  • Plant Oils / chemistry
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology*
  • Plant Oils / toxicity*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Antifungal Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Oils