The objective of this study was to find substances of pharmacological interest in a variety of medicinal plants, such as Aloe vera (L.) Burm. (aloe), Simaba ferruginea St. Hil. (calunga), Baccharis trimera (Less.) DC (carqueja), Garcinia cambogia Desr. and Tournefortia paniculata Cham. (Marmelinho), to aid in the treatment of obesity and other diseases. To reach this goal, phytochemical screenings were performed, percentage and mineral compositions were determined, and the content of a number of bioactive compounds in the medicinal plants were studied. Important substances with therapeutic potential, especially phenolic compounds, saponins and dietary fiber, were found in all plants, and significant levels of calcium were found in G. cambogia and S. ferruginea. The studied plants showed great diversity with regard to phytochemicals and have the potential to be used in pharmaceutical formulations that have possible health benefits. However, more studies must be conducted on these plants, because recommendations regarding the possible risks and benefits for human health would be premature at present; additional studies on toxicity, efficiency and safety are necessary, particularly in relation to the saponins found in all plants and to the high levels of phenolic compounds in T. paniculata (36.19 g 100 g-1 dry matter).
Key words: Phytochemical screening, percent composition, minerals, bioactive compounds, medicinal plants, obesity.
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