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Biological Activities of Asteraceae (Achillea millefolium and Calendula officinalis) and Lamiaceae (Melissa officinalis and Origanum majorana) Plant Extracts

Asteraceae (Achillea millefolium and Calendula officinalis) and Lamiaceae (Melissa officinalis and Origanum majorana) extracts were obtained by applying two sequential extraction processes: supercritical fluid extraction with carbon dioxide, followed by ultrasonic assisted extraction using green solvents (ethanol and ethanol:water 50:50). The extracts were analyzed in terms of the total content of phenolic compounds and the content of flavonoids;the volatile oil composition of supercritical extracts was analyzed by gas chromatography and the antioxidant capacity and cell toxicity was determined. Lamiaceae plant extracts presented higher content of phenolics (and flavonoids) than Asteraceae extracts. Regardless of the species studied, the supercritical extracts presented the lowest antioxidant activity and the ethanol:water extracts offered the largest, following the order Origanum majorana > Melissa officinalisAchillea millefolium > Calendula officinalis. However, concerning the effect on cell toxicity, Asteraceae (especially Achillea millefolium) supercritical extracts were significantly more efficient despite being the less active as an antioxidant agent.