Cardiospermum halicacabum Linn.: Food and Drug

Document Type: Narrative Review

Author

Department of Pharmacy, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy

Abstract

Medicinal plants are natural sources of bioactive phytochemical constituents which, for the physiological actions produced on the human organism, can be used against many diseases. For this reason, it is necessary for medicinal plants to be assessed for their phytochemistry in order to ascertain the potential of these indigenous sources of medicinal products. Today, people around the world are interested in using herbal medicines rather than synthetic drugs because of their minor side effects and low cost; however, there is little scientific evidence for the healing properties of these natural drugs. Scientific validation of their properties is required for their safe use. Cardiospermumhalicacabum L., from the family Sapindaceae, is a widespread perennial plant, different parts of which have been used by indigenous populations in various parts of the world both as food and in the treatment of many pathologies. Knowledge of the plant’s chemical components and their standardization and in vitro and in vivo experimentation to evaluate its pharmacological activity are means by which the quality of the drug and its possible toxicity can be controlled and adulterations with other similar species can be revealed in order to guarantee the safety and well-being of the consumer. The complex chemical composition and multiplicity of applications of C. halicacabum L. have attracted the attention of researchers who, applying modern methodologies, have ascertained the safety and validity of its use in the treatment of many pathologies.

Keywords


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