Background: The biotechnological potential of medicinal plants from Brazilian Caatinga and the Atlantic Forest has not been extensively studied. Thus, screening programs are important in prospecting for compounds for developing new drugs. The purpose of this study was to determine the chemical composition and to evaluate the anti-Candida activity of essential oils from leaves of Hymenaea courbaril var. courbaril, Myroxylon peruiferum, and Vismia guianensis. Methods: The oils were extracted through hydrodistillation and their chemical compositions were analyzed by gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry. Antifungal activity against C. albicans, C. tropicalis, C. parapsilosis, C. glabrata, and C. krusei was evaluated by determining the minimal inhibitory (MIC) and fungicidal (MFC) concentrations. Results: The major compounds of the oils were caryophyllene oxide and trans-caryophyllene for H. courbaril; spathulenol, α-pinene, and caryophyllene oxide for M. peruiferum; and caryophyllene oxide and humulene epoxide II for V. guianensis oil. The oils showed antifungal activity against all the strains tested, and the MIC values ranged between 0.625 and 1.25 μL/mL and MFC from 0.625 to 2.5 μL/mL. Conclusion: The essential oils from the species studied have the potential to be evaluated as clinical applications in the treatment of candidiasis.
Keywords: Brazilian flora; Fabaceae; Hypericaceae; antifungal activity; essential oils.