The aim of this work was to find how medicinal plants play an important role as source of new bioactive molecules. To evaluate the antifungal activity of 10 medicinal plants from northeastern Brazil, traditionally used as anti-infective agents. The activity of 30 crude extracts (water; ethanol:water, 1:1; acetone:water, 1:1) against four standard species of Candida yeasts (Candida albicans ATCC 90028, Candida dubliniensis ATCC 7289, Candida glabrata ATCC 2001 and Candida krusei ATCC 6258) was investigated by the Minimal Inhibitory Concentration (MIC), using the microdilution method and the working range used was from 1.95 to 1000 μg/mL. Extracts from leaves of Eugenia uniflora (Myrtaceae), stem bark of Caesalpinia ferrea (Caesalpinaceae) and leaves of Psidium guajava (Myrtaceae) showed significant activity against all yeasts evaluated. The best antifungal activities were achieved against C. glabrata and C. krusei by E. uniflora extract (MIC = 15.62) and followed by extracts from C. ferrea and P. guajava (MIC ranged from 15.62 to 250 µg/mL). E. uniflora also showed fungicidal properties against all yeasts, especially against Candida dubliniensis. This study identified plant species that may be candidates for the development of alternative treatments for candidiasis.
Key words: Antifungal activity, candidiasis, medicinal plants, crude extracts, fungicide, northeastern Brazil.
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