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Advances in Pharmacological Sciences
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 354264, 18 pages
Review Article

The Therapeutic Potential of Medicinal Foods

Department of Health Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Mauritius, 230 Réduit, Mauritius

Received 15 December 2013; Revised 9 March 2014; Accepted 9 March 2014; Published 17 April 2014

Academic Editor: Neal Davies

Copyright © 2014 Nelvana Ramalingum and M. Fawzi Mahomoodally. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Pharmaceutical and nutritional sciences have recently witnessed a bloom in the scientific literature geared towards the use of food plants for their diversified health benefits and potential clinical applications. Health professionals now recognize that a synergism of drug therapy and nutrition might confer optimum outcomes in the fight against diseases. The prophylactic benefits of food plants are being investigated for potential use as novel medicinal remedies due to the presence of pharmacologically active compounds. Although the availability of scientific data is rapidly growing, there is still a paucity of updated compilation of data and concerns about the rationale of these health-foods still persist in the literature. This paper attempts to congregate the nutritional value, phytochemical composition, traditional uses, in vitro and in vivo studies of 10 common medicinal food plants used against chronic noncommunicable and infectious diseases. Food plants included were based on the criteria that they are consumed as a common food in a typical diet as either fruit or vegetable for their nutritive value but have also other parts which are in common use in folk medicine. The potential challenges of incorporating these medicinal foods in the diet which offers prospective opportunities for future drug development are also discussed.