In several Latin-American countries, many species of the genus Cecropia (Urticaceae) have been widely used in folk medicine as diuretics, cardiotonics, antioxidants, antitussives and expectorants. They have also been used for the treatment of cough, asthma, diabetes, inflammation, anxiety, depression and hypertension.
This chapter will review existing scientific evidence supporting the use of five species traditionally used as antihypertensive agents: Cecropia glaziovii, C. hololeuca, C. obtusifolia, C. pachystachya (Syn.: C. adenopus, C. lyratiloba, C. catarinensis) and C. peltata.
While the medicinal use of the plants of this genus is officially recognized in national pharmacopoeias and formularies of several Latin-American countries, it is important to recognize that these phytomedicines are complex mixtures requiring a better understanding of their chemical composition and their correlation with the biological activities to guarantee their quality, safety and efficacy.