Obesity is a worldwide medical concern. New ethnobotanical information regarding the antiobesity effect of medicinal plants has been obtained in the last 30 years in response to socio-demographic changes and high-fat diets became common.
Aim of the study
This review provides a summary of medicinal plants used in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean for the empirical treatment of obesity in terms of ethnobotany, toxicity, pharmacology, conservation status, trade and chemistry.
Materials and methods
Bibliographic investigation was performed by analyzing recognized books, undergraduate and postgraduate theses and peer-reviewed scientific articles, consulting worldwide accepted scientific databases from the last four decades. Medicinal plants used for the treatment of obesity were classified in two categories: (1) plants with pharmacological evidence and (2) plants without pharmacological evidence.
A total of 139 plant species, belonging to 61 families, native to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean that are used for the empirical treatment of obesity were recorded. From these plants, 33 were investigated in scientific studies, and 106 plants lacked scientific investigation. Medicinal plants were experimentally studied in vitro (21 plants) and in vivo (16 plants). A total of 4 compounds isolated from medicinal plants used for the empirical treatment of obesity have been tested in vitro (2 compounds) and in vivo (4 compounds) studies. No clinical trials on obese subjects (BMI>30 kg/m2) have been performed using the medicinal plants cited in this review. There are no herbal-based products approved in Mexico for the treatment of obesity.
There are a limited number of scientific studies published on medicinal plants from Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean used for the treatment of obesity. This review highlights the need to perform pharmacological, phytochemical, toxicological and ethnobotanical studies with medicinal flora to obtain new antiobesity agents.
Chemical compounds studied in this article
- Capsaicin (CID: 1548943);
- Chlorogenic acid (CID: 1794427);
- Simmondsin (CID: 6437384)
- Lipid accumulation;
- Weight loss;
- Medicinal plants;
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