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Detection and Validation of Native Plants Traditionally Used as Medicine in Guatemala

[ Vol. 5 , Issue. 1 ]


Armando Cáceres* and Sully M. Cruz   Pages 5 - 30 ( 26 )


Guatemala as part of Mesoamerica, is a region of high biological and cultural diversity, where several cultures have flourished. Since 1976, a project started for the detection, validation, production, and utilization of medicinal species for primary health care. It included several ethnobotanical surveys conducted among ten Guatemalan ethnical groups. The objective of this paper is to summarize the ethnobotanical surveys conducted in the country and review the literature validating the use of the most promising native species. From these surveys, more than 650 plant species used for medicinal purposes were detected and cultivation activities were conducted for some of these species. Initially, in cooperation with the multidisciplinary teams in Guatemala, and later with other academic institutions in Brazil, Costa Rica, Italy, Mexico, Panama, Spain and United States, in vitro and in vivo validation activities were performed, such as biocidal, anti-inflammatory, spasmolytic, immunomodulatory, antioxidant and other activities. A comprehensive literature review of the most relevant species was performed. Based on the traditional utilization and preclinical or clinical evidence, several national and international projects were conducted. The most interesting results include anti-candida (Solanum nigrescens), antimicrobial (Tagetes lucida), immunomodulator (Phlebodium pseudoaureum), anti-protozoal (Neurolaena lobata), sedative (Valeriana prionophylla), anti-menopause (Piper hispidum) activities and others. With this information and the reviewed literature, specific formulas were prepared for the treatment of different pathologies, leading to several products registered as phytotherapic in Guatemala. Concise updated information is integrated into mini-reviews for 15 species in order to inform about the properties, chemistry and potential use of these species.


Antimicrobial, immunomodulator, photoprotector, Solanum nigrescens, Phlebodium pseudoaureum, Neurolaena lobata, Piper hispidum, Valeriana prionophylla.


Farmaya Natural Products Laboratories, Guatemala City, Faculty of Chemical Sciences and Pharmacy, University of San Carlos of Guatemala

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