The Phytolaccaceae family has five genera and 35 species and the Petiveriaceae family has nine genera and 21 species. The species from these families are herbaceous, shrub, arboreal, or lianescent plants with pantropical distribution. The aim of this study was to review the scientific literature on the Phytolaccaceae family, mainly Phytolacca dioica, Phytolacca rivinoides and Phytolacca thyrsiflora, and the Petiveriaceae family, mainly Gallesia integrifolia, Petiveria alliacea and Rivina humilis, to organize the information and to identify opportunities for use. The selected species in this study are the most prominent representatives of these families used in folk medicine. Several parts of Phytolacca dioica have been used in folk medicine, such as leaves and fruits that contain alkaloids, tannins, saponins, phenolics, lectins, and flavonoids, and have been used as anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and against diarrhoea and high blood pressure. The infusion made with the leaves and root bark are considered emetic, anti-rheumatic, antiseptic, and astringent. It is even possible to use bark ash to produce soap due to the high saponin contents and the seeds have a high content of saturated fatty acids. The young leaves and stems of Phytolacca rivinoides are used for the treatment of diabetes and the decoction of the roots is a drink for the treatment of syphilis. The root has emetic and antispasmodic properties; it can also be used for skin conditions and burns. The root and the fruits have tannins, phytolacin, phytolactic acid, and the aerial parts triterpenes. Phytolacca thyrsiflora is traditionally used by people of the Guarani ethnic group from the Missions as facial coloring. In Brazil, it is considered medicinal, the leaves are edible and used as plasters on wounds and to treat malignant ulcers and cancer. Unripe fruits are used as purgatives and its roots contain saponins that are used as molluscicides. Gallesia integrifolia has been used to treat flu, cough, pneumonia, worms, gonorrhoea, prostate tumours, and rheumatism. Sulfur compounds are a chemotaxonomic characteristic of this species and are found in all leaf, flower, fruits, and bark tissues, and confer a strong alliaceous odour. Moreover, the biological activities of this plant are associated with the high content of sulfur compounds. Petiveria alliacea has been used as antispasmodic, diuretic, emenagogue, stimulating, sweating, dropsy, arthritis, memory impairment, and abortion. Its roots contain coumarins and trityiolanine, and the essential oil is composed of benzaldehyde, dibenzyl disulfide, and trisulfide that have anesthetic and analgesic properties. Its leaves contain isoarborinol, polyphenols, senfol, and tannins with several biological activities. Rivina humilis berries contain a high content of betalains and are used to treat cold, diarrhoea, difficulty urinating, flatulence, gonorrhoea, jaundice, and ovarian pain.