Bamboos are described as one of the most important renewable, easily obtained, and valuable of all forest resources. These plants belong to the grasses’ family (Poaceae), which covers about a quarter of the world’s plant population, within the subfamily Bambusoideae. The estimated diversity of bamboos in the world is approximately 1400 species, distributed in 116 genera. Bamboo species have been used in Southeast Asia, as a base material to produce paper, furniture, boats, bicycles, textiles, musical instruments, and food, and their leaves have also been used as a wrapping material to prevent food deterioration since ancient times. These species accumulate biologically active components such as polyphenols and other secondary plant metabolites that might explain the use of bamboo leaves in Asian traditional medicine for the treatment of hypertension, arteriosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, and certain forms of cancer. Besides the usual secondary metabolites, bamboo extracts may contain biologically active peptides and polysaccharides that still need to be further studied for their activity and their synergistic with other metabolites. Most of the studies found in the literature are from Asian bamboo species, and the potential of the Southern American species is yet to be explored.
Part of the book: Pharmacognosy