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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2016, Article ID 4017676, 15 pages
Review Article

Medicinal Plants from Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean Used as Immunostimulants

1Departamento de Farmacia, División de Ciencias Naturales y Exactas, Universidad de Guanajuato, 36050 Guanajuato, GTO, Mexico
2Departamento de Productos Naturales, Instituto de Química, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 04510 Ciudad de México, Mexico
3Departamento de Sistemas Biologicos, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana Unidad Xochimilco, 04960 Ciudad de México, Mexico

Received 30 November 2015; Revised 9 February 2016; Accepted 10 February 2016

Academic Editor: Jairo Kennup Bastos

Copyright © 2016 Angel Josabad Alonso-Castro et al. 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.


A literature review was undertaken by analyzing distinguished books, undergraduate and postgraduate theses, and peer-reviewed scientific articles and by consulting worldwide accepted scientific databases, such as SCOPUS, Web of Science, SCIELO, Medline, and Google Scholar. Medicinal plants used as immunostimulants were classified into two categories: (1) plants with pharmacological studies and (2) plants without pharmacological research. Medicinal plants with pharmacological studies of their immunostimulatory properties were subclassified into four groups as follows: (a) plant extracts evaluated for in vitro effects, (b) plant extracts with documented in vivo effects, (c) active compounds tested on in vitro studies, and (d) active compounds assayed in animal models. Pharmacological studies have been conducted on 29 of the plants, including extracts and compounds, whereas 75 plants lack pharmacological studies regarding their immunostimulatory activity. Medicinal plants were experimentally studied in vitro (19 plants) and in vivo (8 plants). A total of 12 compounds isolated from medicinal plants used as immunostimulants have been tested using in vitro (11 compounds) and in vivo (2 compounds) assays. This review clearly indicates the need to perform scientific studies with medicinal flora from Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, to obtain new immunostimulatory agents.