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Universidade Fernando Pessoa (2011)

Avaliação do potencial biológico de Opuntia ficus-indica : (Figueira da Índia)

Martins, Susana Cristina da Costa

Titre : Avaliação do potencial biológico de Opuntia ficus-indica : (Figueira da Índia)

Auteur : Martins, Susana Cristina da Costa

Université de soutenance : Universidade Fernando Pessoa

Grade : Mestre em Ciências Farmacêuticas 2011

Medicinal plants have been used since Antiquity, by primitive civilizations, to fight illnesses. Nowadays, phytotherapy shows to be more and more sustained due to quality, safety and efficiency requirements, and therefore medicinal plants are being considerably looked for as a therapeutic recourse (Cunha, Silva e Roque, 2003). The Opuntia ficus indica is a native Mexican cactus crop which grows wild in arid and semi-arid regions of the world (Ennouri et al., 2006b). It is an arborescent cactus with root, cladodes (stem segments) in which according to the season you may find flowers or fruits (sweet and juicy). It is a plant which cladodes (also called “nopalitos”) and fruits are used in the Mexican diet. Aside from this, the Opuntia ficus indica has also been used, from many years, in traditional medicine due to its well-known properties (antiulcer, anti-inflammatory, wound-healing, hypoglycemic, hypolipidemic, in the treatment of respiratory infections, among others). These properties have brought up the interest of many researchers. The chemical composition of the Opuntia ficus indica – rich in complex carbohydrates (soluble fibers, mucilages, cellulose, etc.), phenolic compounds, carotenoids, vitamins C and E, glutathione and polyunsaturated fatty acids – makes this plant show its many therapeutic activities already scientifically proven. Its role in antioxidant, hypolipidemic, wound-healing, diuretic, antiulcer, hepatoprotective activities as well as in hyperglycemia, in arteriosclerosis, in diabetes mellitus, among others, show that this plant is potentially interesting when used to prevent and cure many ailments and diseases. Moreover the Opuntia ficus indica is nutritionally very rich and thereof its use in the diet.


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