Cocos nucifera (L.) (Arecaceae): A phytochemical and pharmacological review

Braz J Med Biol Res. 2015 Nov;48(11):953-64. doi: 10.1590/1414-431X20154773. Epub 2015 Aug 18.


Cocos nucifera (L.) (Arecaceae) is commonly called the "coconut tree" and is the most naturally widespread fruit plant on Earth. Throughout history, humans have used medicinal plants therapeutically, and minerals, plants, and animals have traditionally been the main sources of drugs. The constituents of C. nucifera have some biological effects, such as antihelminthic, anti-inflammatory, antinociceptive, antioxidant, antifungal, antimicrobial, and antitumor activities. Our objective in the present study was to review the phytochemical profile, pharmacological activities, and toxicology of C. nucifera to guide future preclinical and clinical studies using this plant. This systematic review consisted of searches performed using scientific databases such as Scopus, Science Direct, PubMed, SciVerse, and Scientific Electronic Library Online. Some uses of the plant were partially confirmed by previous studies demonstrating analgesic, antiarthritic, antibacterial, antipyretic, antihelminthic, antidiarrheal, and hypoglycemic activities. In addition, other properties such as antihypertensive, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, cardioprotective, antiseizure, cytotoxicity, hepatoprotective, vasodilation, nephroprotective, and anti-osteoporosis effects were also reported. Because each part of C. nucifera has different constituents, the pharmacological effects of the plant vary according to the part of the plant evaluated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Anticonvulsants / pharmacology
  • Antihypertensive Agents / pharmacology
  • Bone and Bones / drug effects
  • Cocos / chemistry*
  • Cocos / toxicity
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacology
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Protective Agents / pharmacology*


  • Analgesics
  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Plant Extracts
  • Protective Agents