Aroids are Important Medicinal Plants

Aroids are Important Medicinal Plants

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The family Araceae, commonly known as aroids, encompasses 105 genera and more than 3300 species that are mostly herbaceous either as terrestrial, aquatic, or epiphytic. Aroids are extraordinarily diverse in appearance, with their attractive foliage being the most widely recognized feature. Thus, many genera have been cultivated as ornamentals and commercially are among the most important foliage plants used as living specimens for interiorscaping. Some species such as Alocasia macrorrhizos, Amorphophallus paeoniifolius, Colocasia esculenta and Xanthosoma sagittifolium are cultivated as sources of carbohydrate foods. Another important characteristic of aroids, which has not been fully appreciated, is that many are important medicinal plants. For example, Agalonema treubii is a valuable source for glycosidase inhibitors that are antidiabetic, antimetastatic, antiviral, and immunomodulatory agents. In particular, α-glycosidase inhibitors such as a-homonojirimycin and β-homonojirimycin isolated from Aglaonema treubii have been shown to be potentially therapeutic agents for diabetes type 2 and HIV-1 infection. A new indole alkaloid, decursivine, isolated from Rhaphidophora decursiva, exhibits antimalarial activity. The powder of Homalomena aromatica rhizomes is used as an anti-inflammatory agent, a tonic for treatment of skin disease in India. Recent studies showed that linalool, a volatile oil isolated from the rhizome, had activity against Curvularia pallescens, Aspergillus niger and Fusarium graminearum. The ethnobotany of the Araceae is diverse and fascinating based on many circumstantial stories and scientific reports. This article is intended to review the current progress in revealing aroids as important medicinal plants.

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