A team that included scientists from the University of the West Indies Mona Campus has discovered potentially beneficial medicinal properties in a favorite Caribbean fruit; Melicoccus bijugatus popularly known as Spanish lime, chenet, quinep and a variety of other names.

The study entitled “Hypotensive and antihypertensive effects of an aqueous extract from Guinep fruit (Melicoccus bijugatus Jacq) in rats” showed that the fruit reduced blood pressure in rats through its effects on cardiac output and heart rates. The authors noted that it did this by way of “its endothelium dependent vasorelaxation properties involving the nitric oxide (NO) and guanylyl cyclase, but not prostaglandin signaling pathways.”

The guinep extract showed no signs of toxicity, suggesting potential for safe medical use. These results complemented those of a prior study which established that guinep reversed and even prevented experimentally induced damage to the muscular tissue of the heart. Advanced analysis further revealed the presence of several medicinal compounds in guinep extracts with exciting cardiovascular and biological activity responses. These included antioxidants like vitamin C and related compounds, phenolic acids, flavonoids, fatty acids (oxylipins), and terpene derivatives.

According to the University; The recent study is part of an ongoing effort by The UWI scientists and international collaborators from Chile and USA to highlight the medicinal benefits of indigenous natural products and scientifically validate folkloric evidence of their properties. The effort includes drawing on available scientific expertise to analyse and isolate active chemical components and deciphering the mechanisms of how these act to yield physiological or pharmaceutical benefits, whether through orthodox or alternative medicine applications. The guinep study was led by Dr. Chukwuemeka Nwokocha (Dept. of Basic Medical Sciences) with UWI collaborators from The Natural Products Institute, the Department of Chemistry, and the Department of Pathology.