Teixeira, G., Martins, E.S. & Catarino, L. (2016) Antidepressant Plant Species from the Portuguese-Speaking African Countries (PALOP). Herbal Medicine in Depression. Herbal Medicine in Depression (ed. by C. Grosso), 433-481. Springer, 585 pp. ISBN:978-3-319-14020-9. DOI:10.1007/978-3-319-14021-6_9.
The Portuguese-speaking African countries belong to the sub-Saharan region and are known by the acronym PALOP. As in other African countries, the traditional medicine is an important element in their cultural patrimony and the value of those ancestral practices is recognized.
The access to the biological resources from developing countries became easier but also the awareness to its preservation as well as the alert to the need of covering the insufficient scientific data on the safety, efficacy, and quality of traditional medicines.
We have done a research on the available information about medicinal plants commonly used for treatment of depression in the PALOP. The ethnobotanical data were firstly obtained through a review conducted on several works on the medicinal flora of these countries and their neighbors and information contained in the herbarium labels.
The plants with more reliable information as antidepressants were Bacopa monnieri(Scrophulariaceae), Boophone disticha (Amaryllidaceae), Centella asiatica (Apiaceae), Cissampelos genus (Menispermaceae), Griffonia simplicifolia (Fabaceae), Mondia whitei(Apocynaceae), Palisota hirsuta (Commelinaceae), Securidaca longepedunculata(Polygalaceae), and Xysmalobium undulatum (Apocynaceae). For these plants, we combined the data gathered on bioecology and uses with their chemical compounds and their reported pharmacological activity. These seem to be plants with psychotropic effects, potentially active and to which modern pharmacology can appeal. Further studies are needed to completely elucidate the chemical groups responsible for the reported antidepressant effect, and additional research is necessary therefore to confirm the exact mechanisms involved in this central nervous system pathology.