Medicinal Properties Discovered in Certain Toad Species

By Rideeta Raquib ’19

Figure 1. Toads from the Bufonidae family may have medicinal properties
Figure 1. Toads from the Bufonidae family may have medicinal properties

Traditional medicinal compounds utilized to treat various diseases, ranging from stomach disorders to some types of cancers, are common in toads, specifically the Bufonidae family.  Scientists at the University of Panama, Panama’s government research center INDICASAT AIP, Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, and Acharya Nagarjuna University in Guntur, India, came together to identify several chemical components of the traditional medicines acquired from this family, as well as analyze the biochemical properties of these compounds.

The study commenced with the compilation of the available information regarding bioactive compounds extracted from the Bufonidae family. This collection was obtained from various databases, such as Google Scholar, ACS Publication, ScienceDirect, and PubMed. The recent articles indicated that 30% of amphibians are endangered and some species in the Bufonidae family are already reported to be extinct.

Folk remedies utilized the Bufonidae family for hundreds of years to treat allergies, inflammation, and much more. In Spain, for instance, the bones of these toads were used to treat earaches and toothaches. Parotid gland secretions from the bufonid species are grouped into the following categories: the guanidine alkaloids isolated from the species Atelopus, indole alkaloids, the lipophilic alkaloids from Melanophryniscus, and peptides present in skin and gastrointestinal tracts of the more common toads.  

The purpose of this study was to summarize the toxicity and properties of chemical compounds found in bufonid frogs. Overall, the secretions from the Bufonidae family may have protease inhibitor, antimicrobial, and anticancer properties, but the cytotoxicity of these elements need to be tested on animal models in order to verify their effectiveness and side effects. Tools, such as Nuclear Magnetic Resonance and MS spectroscopy, could be utilized to evaluate the secretions even further and, based on findings, novel drugs may potentially be developed.



  1. C. Rodríguez, et al., Toxins and pharmacologically active compounds from species of the family Bufonidae (Amphibia, Anura). Journal of Ethnopharmacology (2017). doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2016.12.021
  2. Image acquired from:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s