More than 40% of the new drugs registered from 1981 to 2006 were obtained, derived or inspired from natural
compounds. The influence of natural products in the anti-infective area is quite marked, being a great percentage of drugs
derived or extracted from natural products. Vaginal infections are one of the most common reasons a women visits a gynecologist.
Given the high popularity of natural therapies among women who suffer from chronic infections, it is urgent
for women’s healthcare providers to be knowledgeable about such therapies. Additionally, many phytotherapeutic products
have been suggested as natural sources of antimicrobial compounds. The increased resistance to conventional antibiotics
is one of the main factors justifying the search and development of new antimicrobial agents, especially those of
natural origin. Currently, phytochemicals are considered by the scientific community as very attractive targets for potential
drug discovery and therapy. In this review, we will focus on the most relevant reports published during the last twenty
years about the antimicrobial activity of plant extracts upon microorganisms most frequently involved in genital infections,
such as Candida spp., Gardnerella vaginalis, Trichomonas vaginalis and Human papillomavirus. The relationship
between their composition and the antimicrobial effects will be highlighted and vaginal therapeutic delivery systems that
vehicle plant extracts both commercialized and under investigation will be included.
Keywords: Antimicrobial activity, genital infections, natural compounds, essential oils, plant extracts, delivery systems.
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