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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Herbal therapy associated with antibiotic therapy: potentiation of the antibiotic activity against methicillin – resistant Staphylococcus aureus by Turnera ulmifolia L

Henrique DM Coutinho15*, José GM Costa12, Edeltrudes O Lima3, Vivyanne S Falcão-Silva4 and José P Siqueira4

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratory of Research in Natural Products, Center of Biological Sciences and Health, University of the Region of Cariri, Crato (CE), Brazil

2 Leão Sampaio College, Juazeiro do Norte (CE), Brazil

3 Laboratory of Mycology, Center of Health Sciences, Federal University of Paraíba, João Pessoa (PB), Brazil

4 Laboratory of Genetics of Microrganisms, Center of Exacts and Natural Sciences, Federal University of Paraíba, João Pessoa (PB), Brazil

5 Universidade Regional do Cariri – URCA; Centro de Ciências Biológicas e da Saúde – CCBS; Departamento de Ciências Biológicas – DCB; Laboratório de Pesquisa em Produtos Naturais – LPPN. CEP: 63105-900. Crato, CE – Brasil. Rua Cel. Antonio Luis 1161, Pimenta, 63105-000

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2009, 9:13  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-9-13

Published: 8 May 2009



Staphylococcus genus is widely spread in nature being part of the indigenous microbiota of skin and mucosa of animal and birds. Some Staphylococcus species are frequently recognized as etiological agents of many animal and human opportunistic infections This is the first report testing the antibiotic resistance-modifying activity of Turnera ulmifolia against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus – MRSA strain.


In this study an ethanol extract of Turnera ulmifolia L. and chlorpromazine were tested for their antimicrobial activity alone or in combination with aminoglycosides against an MRSA strain.


The synergism of the ethanol extract and aminoglycosides were verified using microdillution method. A synergistic effect of this extract on gentamicin and kanamycin was demonstrated. Similarly, a potentiating effect of chlorpromazine on kanamycin, gentamicin and neomycin, indicating the involvement of an efflux system in the resistance to these aminoglycosides.


It is therefore suggested that extracts from Turnera ulmifolia could be used as a source of plant-derived natural products with resistance-modifying activity, constituting a new weapon against the problem of bacterial resistance to antibiotics demonstrated in MRSA strains.