Medicinal and Nutraceutical Plants

 Division Chair:      Diana Jasso de Rodríguez 
 Department of Plant Breeding 

                                 Universidad Autónoma Agraria Antonio Narro (UAAAN)

                                 Buenavista, 25315 Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico 



Scope of the Division:

The goal of the division is to promote research and development activities in medicinal and nutraceutical crops to support various industries. Members of the division conduct research in several disciplines within these crops. Research is ongoing in germplasm selection, evaluation, cultivation, harvesting, processing, product development, and marketing of crops and their respective products. In addition, members also conduct research related to the agronomic, chemistry, genetics, quality, and biological activities of these crops.

Medicinal plants are defined as those plants containing phytochemicals, secondary metabolites, or primary metabolites that have a medicinal action in humans and animals. Nutraceutical plants produce healthy phytochemicals that are formulated and intake is in the form of capsules, tinctures, or tablets. Functional foods are a component of nutraceuticals and are consumed as foods, and not in dosage form.

Medicinal and nutraceutical plants offer a wide array of products utilized or can be utilized in the pharmaceutical and functional food industries.

Current Activities:

The division is in preparation for the upcoming AAIC 28th annual meeting in Upstate New York, Radisson Hotel Rochester Riverside, Rochester, NY at the end of September 2015. The area will provide participants to the meeting to learn about current research and development activities of AAIC members, but also to get to know Niagara Falls, located an hour and half driving time from Rochester.

The beautiful Upstate New York, including the city of Rochester is full of attractions and recreation activities, to get to know the flora of the state, that include many herbs, medicinal and aromatic plants (HMAP). This area of the state is also characterized by a wealth of health and research institutions, small scale farmers, processor and producers focusing on varied areas of HMAP.

The division encourages researchers to join the AAIC, participate in the upcoming meeting and become an active supporter of the division.

Member Highlights:

Diana Jasso de Rodriguez. Past-chair (2006-2009).
Universidad Autónoma Agraria Antonio Narro (UAAAN), Saltillo, Coahuila, México.

Dr. Jasso de Rodriguez is a founding member of the division serving as a chair from 2006-09. Her research team is conducting active research in the areas  of phytochemistry and biological activities of medicinal plants of northern Mexico and Southern US. Dr. Jasso is also an active researcher in the areas of Natural Rubber and Resins particularly on guayule.

Brad Morris, Geneticist (USDA-ARS PGRCU). Past-chair (2010-2013).
Plant Genetic Resources Conservation Unit

Dr. Morris served as a chair of the division from 2010 through 2013. His area of interest is in the characterization and evaluation of genetic resources. Plant and seed regeneration capacity, and genetic, morphological, phytochemical variability (fatty acid, flavonol, isoflavonoid), with a strong focus on  medicinal and nutraceutical value of these plants.

Dipak Santra, Panhandle Research and Extension Center,
University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Scottsbluff, NE

Dr. Santra a plant breeder focusing on the phytochemical characterization and improvement of medicinal plants. He was recently awarded the best oral presentation of the division at the 2013 meeting in Washington DC, for his presentation on “Evaluation of Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum L.) Germplasm for Diosgenin, Galactoamannan, and 4-Hydroxyisoleucine”.  

Dr. José Ángel Villarreal Quintanilla
Universidad Autonoma Agraria Antonio Narro

Dr. Villareal is conducting research in the botany and pharmacognosy of endemic and rare plants from Coahuila, México.

Crops Investigated:

Members in this division have been conducting research in the following crops for their medicinal and nutraceutical attributes:

  • Aloe (Aloe vera): Leaves
  • Amaranth oil (Amaranthus spp.) for cardiovascular disease.
  • Borage (Borago officinalis L.): seeds (gamma linolenic acid)
  • Calendula (Calendula spp.) flower for wound healing (water soluble flavonoids), anti-inflammatory, may inhibit HIV, anti-bacterial, and anti-tumor. Skin and cancer treatments.
  • Calendula (Calendula officinalis L.): seeds (calendic acid).
  • Candelilla (Euphorbia antisyphilitica): natural waxes.
  • Camelina (Camelina sativa L.): seeds (omega-3-fatty acids).
  • Chia (Salvia hispanica) bread for reducing cardiovascular risk factors (proteins, antioxidants, fatty acids)
  • Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia, E. pallida, E. purpurea) for reducing the common cold.
  • Evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) oil for osteoporosis.
  • Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) for colic and constipation.
  • Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) gensenosides for reducing type 2 diabetes and may reduce respiratory tract infections as well as influenza.
  • Guar (Cyamopsis tetragonoloba) gum relieves constipation, reduces type 1 and 2 diabetes, and lowers cholesterol. Partially hydrolysed guar gum effective in irradicating small intestinal bacterial growth.
  • Herbs (Origanum sp, Pelargonium sp, Lippia sp, Cymbopogon sp, Thymus sp): sources of essential oils and antioxidant polyphenols, and dried plant parts for use as spices, and herbal teas.
  • Herbs (Salvia sp, Teucrium sp, Sideritis sp): diterpenes and flavones against polyphagous moths
  • Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa): dried calyces (anthocyanins).
  • Mint (Mentha spp.) for relieving tension headaches.
  • Moringa (Moringa oleifera): seeds, leaves (fatty acids, nutritional elements, antioxidant polyphenols).
  • Plantago (Plantago psyllium) works as a bulk laxative and reduces constipation.
  • Purple Viper's Bugloss (Echium plantagineum): seeds (omega-3 and 6 fatty acids).
  • Pyrethrum (Tanacetum cinerariifolium) treats lice.
  • St. Johns Wort (Hypericum perforatum) extracts for depression, may improve wound healing, and reduce scar formation.
  • Sesame (Sesamum indicum) for sesamin, sesamolin, and tocopherols.
  • Yuca (Yucca carnerosana), lechuguilla (Agave lechuguilla), gobernadora (Larrea tridentata), quinua (Chenopodium quinoa); and hojasen (Flourensia cernua): Plant extracts and isolated components against pathogens (e.g. Fusarium oxysporum).