From Tradition to Health: Chemical and Bioactive Characterization of Five Traditional Plants

Molecules. 2022 Oct 1;27(19):6495. doi: 10.3390/molecules27196495.


Several scientific studies have been proving the bioactive effects of many aromatic and medicinal plants associated with the presence of a high number of bioactive compounds, namely phenolic compounds. The antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial capacities of these molecules have aroused high interest in some industrial sectors, including food, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics. This work aimed to determine the phenolic profiles of the infusions and hydroethanolic extracts of five plants (Carpobrotus edulis, Genista tridentata, Verbascum sinuatum, Cytisus multiflorus, and Calluna vulgaris) that have been employed in many traditional preparations. In addition, the antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-tumoral activity of each different preparation was evaluated using in vitro assays. The HPLC-DAD-ESI/MS profile revealed the presence of eighty phenolic compounds, belonging to seven different families of compounds. Regarding antioxidant properties, the hydroethanolic extract of C. edulis showed a potent effect in the TBARS assay (IC50 = 1.20 µg/mL), while G. tridentata hydroethanolic extract achieved better results in the OxHLIA test (IC50 = 76 µg/mL). For cytotoxic and anti-inflammatory results, V. sinuatum infusions stood out significantly, with GI50 = 59.1-92.1 µg/mL and IC50 = 121.1 µg/mL, respectively. Finally, C. edulis hydroethanolic extract displayed the most relevant antibacterial activity, showing MBC values of 0.25-1 mg/mL, while G. tridentata hydroethanolic extract exerted the greatest antifungal effects (MFC of 0.5-1 mg/mL). The results of this study deepen the knowledge of the phenolic profiles and also provide evidence on the bioactive properties of the species selected, which could be considered highly valuable options for research and application in several sectors, namely food, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals.

Keywords: bioactive compounds; health benefits; medicinal plants; phenolic composition.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Antifungal Agents
  • Antioxidants* / chemistry
  • Antioxidants* / pharmacology
  • Phenols / chemistry
  • Phenols / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts* / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts* / pharmacology
  • Thiobarbituric Acid Reactive Substances


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antifungal Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Phenols
  • Plant Extracts
  • Thiobarbituric Acid Reactive Substances

Grants and funding

The research was supported by MICINN supporting the Ramón y Cajal grant for M.A. Prieto (RYC-2017-22891) and the FPU grant for A. Carreira-Casais (FPU2016/06135); by Xunta de Galicia for supporting the pre-doctoral grants of P. Garcia-Oliveira (ED481A-2019/295). The authors are grateful to the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT, Portugal) for financial support through national funds FCT/MCTES (PIDDAC) to CIMO (UIDB/00690/2020 and UIDP/00690/2020) and SusTEC (LA/P/0007/2021); national funding by FCT, PI, through the institutional scientific employment program contract for L. Barros, E. Pereira, M.I. Dias, C. Pereira, and R. Calhelha contracts; to the project Healthy- PETFOOD for the contract of C. Caleja (Project Healthy-PETFOOD POCI-01-0247-FEDER-047073). This work has been supported by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia (451-03-68/2020-14/200007).