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A screening for antimicrobial activities of Caribbean herbal remedies

Claribel Luciano-Montalvo14, Isabelle Boulogne2 and Jannette Gavillán-Suárez13*

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Interdisciplinary Research, University of Puerto Rico, Cayey, #205 Antonio R. Barceló Ave, Cayey, PR 00736, Puerto Rico

2 University of French Antilles and Guyana, UFR Faculty of Science, TRAMIL, F-97157, Pointe à Pitre, Guadeloupe Cedex, Guadeloupe

3 Department of Chemistry, University of Puerto Rico, Cayey, #205 Antonio R. Barceló Ave, Cayey, PR 00736, Puerto Rico

4 Present address: San Juan Bautista Medical School, Department of Microbiology, Caguas 00727, Puerto Rico

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013, 13:126  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-13-126

Published: 4 June 2013



The TRAMIL program aims to understand, validate and expand health practices based on the use of medicinal plants in the Caribbean, which is a “biodiversity hotspot” due to high species endemism, intense development pressure and habitat loss. The antibacterial activity was examined for thirteen plant species from several genera that were identified as a result of TRAMIL ethnopharmacological surveys or were reported in ethnobotanical accounts from Puerto Rico. The aim of this study was to validate the traditional use of these plant species for the treatment of bacterial infections, such as conjunctivitis, fever, otitis media and furuncles.


An agar disc diffusion assay was used to examine five bacterial strains that are associated with the reported infections, including Staphylococcus saprophyticus (ATCC 15305), S. aureus (ATCC 6341), Escherichia coli (ATCC 4157), Haemophilus influenzae (ATCC 8142), Pseudomonas aeruginosa (ATCC 7700) and Proteus vulgaris (ATCC 6896), as well as the fungus Candida albicans (ATCC 752). The minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) and minimum bactericidal concentration (MBC) values were determined for each of the extracts that showed inhibitory activity.


The decoctions of Pityrogramma calomelanos, Tapeinochilus ananassae, and Syzygium jambos, as well as the juice of Gossypium barbadense, showed > 20% growth inhibition against several bacteria relative to the positive control, which was the antibiotic Streptomycin. Extracts with the best antimicrobial activities were S. jambos that showed MIC = 31 μg/mL and MBC = 1.0 mg/mL against P. vulgaris and T. ananassae that showed MIC = 15 μg/mL against S. aureus.


This report confirms the traditional use of P. calomelanos for the treatment of kidney infections that are associated with stones, as well as the antimicrobial and bactericidal effects of T. ananassae against P. vulgaris and S. saprophyticus and the effects of S. jambos against S. aureus and S. saprophyticus.

Ethnopharmacology; TRAMIL; Antibacterial; Syzygium jambos; Pityrogramma calomelanos; Tapeinochilus ananassae; Gossypium barbadense