Pimenta genus: botanical aspects, chemical composition and pharmacological potential.
The family Myrtaceae has representatives of great medical interest, and the genus Pimenta deserves attention. Most species of this genus are native to the Central America, except Pimenta pseudocaryophyllus (Gomes) L. R. Landrum, which is native to the Central-West and Southeast Brazilian Regions. This study aimed to review botanical, chemical and pharmacological aspects described in the literature for Pimenta genus. Information was obtained from original papers and reviews indexed in the databases "Periódicos Capes", ISI Web of Knowledge, "Bireme" and SciELO. This genus can present shrubs or trees, which have unicellular hairs, usually coriaceous leaves and dichasium or panicle inflorescence, and are mainly distinguished by the ovary structure. The pharmacological properties are mostly due to essential oils, mainly consisted of phenylpropanoid, monoterpene, monoterpenic aldehyde and alcohol derivatives. Among these properties, antihypertensive, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antimicrobial and antioxidant ones are highlighted. Of the fifteen known Pimenta species, Pimenta dioica (L.) Merrill and Pimenta racemosa (Miller) J. Moore have the greatest economic importance and consequently have been the most chemically and pharmacologically studied.