Schinus lentiscifolius Marchand (syn. Schinus weinmannifolius Engl) is a plant native to Rio Grande do Sul (Southern Brazil) and has been used in Brazilian traditional medicine as antiseptic and antimicrobial for the treatment of many different health problems as well as to treat leucorrhea and to assist in ulcer and wound healing. Although it is a plant widely used by the population, there are no studies proving this popular use.
The crude aqueous extract, the crude neutral methanol extract, fractions prepared from this extract (n-hexane, ethyl acetate, and n-butanol), pure compounds isolated from these fractions, and derivatives were investigated in vitro for antimicrobial activities against five Gram positive bacteria: Bacillus subtilis, Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Staphylococcus saprophyticus, Streptococcus pyogenes, three Gram negative bacteria: Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Shigella sonnei, and four yeasts: Candida albicans, Candida tropicalis, Cryptococcus neoformans, and Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The isolated compound moronic acid, which is the most active, was tested against a range of other bacteria such as two Gram positive bacteria, namely, Bacillus cereus, Enterococcus spp, and six Gram negative bacteria, namely, Burkholderia cepacia, Providencia stuartii, Morganella morganii, Enterobacter cloacae, Enterobacter aerogenes, and Proteus mirabilis.
The leaf aqueous extract (decoction) of Schinus lentiscifolius showed a broad spectrum of antibacterial activity, ranging from 125 to 250 μg/ml (MIC) against the tested bacteria and fungi. The n-hexane extract, despite being very little active against bacteria, showed an excellent antifungal activity, especially against Candida albicans (MIC=25 μg/ml), Candida tropicalis (MIC=15.5 μg/ml), and Cryptococcus neoformans, (MIC=15.5 μg/ml). From the acetate fraction (the most active against bacteria), compounds 1-6 were isolated: nonadecanol (1), moronic acid (2), gallic acid methyl ester (3), gallic acid (4), quercetin (5) and quercitrin (6). The minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) of moronic acid between 1.5 and 3 μg/ml against most of the tested bacteria shows that it is one of the metabolites responsible for the antibacterial activity of Schinus lentiscifolius.
The antimicrobial activity and some constituents of Schinus lentiscifolius are reported for the first time. The results of the present study provide scientific basis for the popular use of Schinus lentiscifolius for a number of different health problems.