Comparison Between the Phytochemical and Antioxidant Properties of Plants Used in Plant Infusions for Medicinal Purposes

Ana F. Vinha, Sérgio V. P. Barreira, Ana Castro, Marisa Machado


It has already been acknowledged among the medical community that plant based treatments represent an interesting contribution to modern therapeutics due to the presence in their composition of molecules with pharmacological and antioxidant action. The aim of this study was to evaluate the contents of total phenolics, flavonoids, and caffeine in six plants used traditionally by healers in Portugal and usually consumed as tea or infusion namely: Camellia sinensis, Melissa officinalis, Lippia citriodora, Cymbopogon citratus, Matricaria chamomilla, and Tilia cordata. Total phenolics ranged from 32.05 mg GAE/100g for aqueous extracts obtained from leaves of L. citriodora to 145.28 mg GAE/100g for aqueous extracts of C. sinensis. Significant variations in the flavonoid content were also found among analyzed plants and depending on the nature of the extract, with C. sinensis standing out again with the highest values (78.31 mg CE/100g) and the ethanolic extract obtained from the flowers of T. cordata exhibiting the lowest content (25.15 mg CE/100g). The concentration of caffeine was also very diverse and followed the sequence M. officinalis < T. cordata < C. citratus < M. chamomilla < L. citriodora < C. sinensis. The antioxidant activity of each plant was evaluated in vitro using a standard model system, the DPPH assay, and was found to vary according to C. citratus (90.9%) > C. sinensis (87.8%) > M. officinalis (50.7%) > M. chamomilla (45.3%) > T. cordata (32.2%) > L. citriodora (28.0%). The aqueous extracts presented lower antioxidant activity than the corresponding ethanolic ones.

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Journal of Agricultural Science   ISSN 1916-9752 (Print)   ISSN 1916-9760 (Online)  E-mail:

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