Several species of the family Caryophyllaceae are widely used by many ethnic communities as traditional medicine throughout the world. The highest number of plants of the family are used in Chinese traditional medicine. The ethnopharmacologial studies of this family indicate that plants of the family possess anticancer, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. Other miscellaneous properties reported are ribosome inactivation properties, inhibition of prostatic enlargement in rats, and inhibition of intestinal enzyme carboxyelasterase in rats, cerebro-protective activity, and antiobesity in rats. Few reviews have been published yet, providing information regarding medicinal plants of the family and their biomedical properties. All published reviews have focused either on a particular taxa or a few species. The present review is focused on the traditional medicinal uses of the plants of the family Caryophyllaceae along with phytochemical and pharmacological studies of the family. A study of the literature revealed significant traditional medicinal importance of the family. Major chemical constituents of Caryophyllceae are saponins, Phytoecdysteroids, benzenoids, phenyl propanoids, and nitrogen containing compounds. The most important property of plants of the family is anticancer activity and is shown by the large number of plant species studied. This review of traditional medicinal and pharmacological uses of plants of the family, provide a ground for future research in the family.
Keywords: Caryophyllaceae; Dianthus; Silene; pharmacological properties; traditional medicinal systems.