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In vitro anti-mycobacterial activity of nine medicinal plants used by ethnic groups in Sonora, Mexico

Ramón Enrique Robles-Zepeda1, Enrique Wenceslao Coronado-Aceves1, Carlos Arturo Velázquez-Contreras1, Eduardo Ruiz-Bustos1, Moisés Navarro-Navarro1 and Adriana Garibay-Escobar12*

Author Affiliations

1 Chemical Biological Science Department, Biological and Health Sciences Division, University of Sonora, Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico

2 Chemical Biological Sciences Department, University of Sonora, Rosales and Luis Encinas, CP 83000 Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013, 13:329  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-13-329

Published: 25 November 2013



Sonoran ethnic groups (Yaquis, Mayos, Seris, Guarijíos, Pimas, Kikapúes and Pápagos) use mainly herbal based preparations as their first line of medicinal treatment. Among the plants used are those with anti-tuberculosis properties; however, no formal research is available.


Organic extracts were obtained from nine medicinal plants traditionally used by Sonoran ethnic groups to treat different kinds of diseases; three of them are mainly used to treat tuberculosis. All of the extracts were tested against Mycobacterium tuberculosis H37Rv using the Alamar Blue redox bioassay.


Methanolic extracts from Ambrosia confertiflora, Ambrosia ambrosioides and Guaiacum coulteri showed minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) values of 200, 790 and 1000 μg/mL, respectively, whereas no effect was observed with the rest of the methanolic extracts at the concentrations tested. Chloroform, dichloromethane, and ethyl acetate extracts from Ambrosia confertiflora showed a MIC of 90, 120 and 160 μg/mL, respectively.


A. confertiflora and A. ambrosioides showed the best anti-mycobacterial activity in vitro. The activity of Guaiacum coulteri is consistent with the traditional use by Sonoran ethnic groups as anti-tuberculosis agent.

For these reasons, it is important to investigate a broader spectrum of medicinal plants in order to find compounds active against Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

Medicinal plants; Tuberculosis; Alamar blue; Mycobacterium tuberculosis; Ambrosia