Antioxidant activity and cholinesterase inhibition studies of four flavouring herbs from Alentejo

<p>Essential oils (EOs) and aqueous extracts of aerial parts of four aromatic species, <i>Calamintha nepeta</i>, <i>Foeniculum vulgare</i>, <i>Mentha spicata</i> and <i>Thymus mastichina</i>, from southwest of Portugal were characterised chemically and analysed in order to evaluate their antioxidant potential and cholinesterase inhibitory activities. The main components of EOs were oxygenated monoterpenes, and aqueous extracts were rich in phenol and flavonoid compounds. EOs and aqueous extracts presented a high antioxidant potential, with ability to protect the lipid substrate, free radical scavenging and iron reducing power. Furthermore, EOs and extracts showed AChE and BChE inhibitory activities higher than rivastigmine, the standard drug. Results suggested the potential use of EOs and aqueous extracts of these flavouring herbs as nutraceutical or pharmaceutical preparations to minimise the oxidative stress and the progression of degenerative diseases.</p>