Phytochemistry is the study of phytochemicals, which are chemicals derived from plants. Those studying phytochemistry strive to describe the structures of the large number of secondary metabolic compounds found in plants, the functions of these compounds in human and plant biology, and the biosynthesis of these compounds. Plants synthesize phytochemicals for many reasons, including to protect themselves against insect attacks and plant diseases. Phytochemicals in food plants are often active in human biology, and in many cases have health benefits. The compounds found in plants are of many kinds, but most are in four major biochemical classes, the alkaloids, glycosides, polyphenols, and terpenes.
Phytochemistry can be considered sub-fields of botany or chemistry. Activities can be led in botanical gardens or in the wild with the aid of ethnobotany. The applications of the discipline can be for pharmacognosy, or the discovery of new drugs, or as an aid for plant physiology studies.
Techniques commonly used in the field of phytochemistry are extraction, isolation, and structural elucidation (MS,1D and 2D NMR) of natural products, as well as various chromatography techniques (MPLC, HPLC, and LC-MS).
The list of simple elements of which plants are primarily constructed—carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, calcium, phosphorus, etc.—is not different from similar lists for animals, fungi, or even bacteria. The fundamental atomic components of plants are the same as for all life; only the details of the way in which they are assembled differs.
Phytochemical technique mainly applies to the quality control of Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine(Indian traditional medicine) or herbal medicine of various chemical components, such as saponins, alkaloids, volatile oils, flavonoids and anthraquinones. In the development of rapid and reproducible analytical techniques, the combination of HPLC with different detectors, such as diode array detector (DAD), refractive index detector (RID), evaporative light scattering detector (ELSD) and mass spectrometric detector (MSD), has been widely developed.
In most cases, biologically active compounds in Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, or herbal medicine have not been determined. Therefore, it is important to use the phytochemical methods to screen and analyze bioactive components, not only for the quality control of crude drugs, but also for the elucidation of their therapeutic mechanisms. Modern pharmacological studies indicate that binding to receptors or ion channels on cell membranes is the first step of some drug actions. A new method in phytochemistry called biochromatography has been developed. This method combines human red cell membrane extraction and high performance liquid chromatography to screen potential active components in Chinese medicine.
Many plants produce chemical compounds for defence against herbivores. These are often useful as drugs, and the content and known pharmacological activity of these substances in medicinal plants is the scientific basis for their use. The major classes of pharmacologically active phytochemicals are described below, with examples of medicinal plants that contain them. Human settlements are often surrounded by weeds useful as medicines, such as nettle, dandelion and chickweed.
Alkaloids are bitter-tasting chemicals, very widespread in nature, and often toxic. There are several classes with different modes of action as drugs, both recreational and pharmaceutical. Medicines of different classes include atropine, scopolamine, and hyoscyamine (all from nightshade), the traditional medicine berberine (from plants such as Berberis and Mahonia),[a] caffeine (Coffea), cocaine (Coca), ephedrine (Ephedra), morphine (opium poppy), nicotine (tobacco),[b] reserpine (Rauwolfia serpentina), quinidine and quinine (Cinchona), vincamine (Vinca minor), and vincristine (Catharanthus roseus).
Polyphenols of several classes are widespread in plants. They include the colourful anthocyanins, hormone-mimicking phytoestrogens, and astringent tannins. In Ayurveda, the astringent rind of the pomegranate is used as a medicine, while polyphenol extracts from plant materials such as grape seeds are sold for their potential health benefits They have been continually studied in cell cultures for their different anti-cancer effects.
Plants containing phytoestrogens have been used for centuries to treat gynaecological disorders such as fertility, menstrual, and menopausal problems. Among these plants are Pueraria mirifica, kudzu, angelica, fennel, and anise.
Terpenes and terpenoids of many kinds are found in resinous plants such as the conifers. They are strongly aromatic and serve to repel herbivores. Their scent makes them useful in essential oils, whether for perfumes such as rose and lavender, or for aromatherapy. Some have had medicinal uses: thymol is an antiseptic and was once used as a vermifuge (anti-worm medicine).
The man credited with the introduction of digitalis into the practice of medicine was William Withering.
THYMOL is a phenol obtained from thyme oil or other volatile oils used as a stabilizer in pharmaceutical preparations, and as an antiseptic (antibacterial or antifungal) agent. It was formerly used as a vermifuge.
The Aristolochiaceae (English: ) are a family, the birthwort family, of flowering plants with seven genera and about 400 known species belonging to the order Piperales. The type genus is Aristolochia L.Bacopa monnieri
Bacopa monnieri (waterhyssop, brahmi, thyme-leafed gratiola, water hyssop, herb of grace, Indian pennywort) is a perennial, creeping herb native to the wetlands of southern and Eastern India, Australia, Europe, Africa, Asia, and North and South America. B. monnieri is an herb used in Ayurveda. In 2019, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned manufacturers of dietary supplement products containing Bacopa monnieri against making illegal and unproven claims that the herb can treat various diseases.Borage
Borage ( (listen); Borago officinalis), also known as a starflower, is an annual herb in the flowering plant family Boraginaceae. It is native to the Mediterranean region and has naturalized in many other locales. It grows satisfactorily in gardens in the UK climate, remaining in the garden from year to year by self-seeding. The leaves are edible and the plant is grown in gardens for that purpose in some parts of Europe. The plant is also commercially cultivated for borage seed oil extracted from its seeds. The plant contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids, some of which are hepatotoxic, mutagenic and carcinogenic (see below under Phytochemistry).Euphorbiaceae
The Euphorbiaceae, the spurge family, is a large family of flowering plants. In common English, they are sometimes called euphorbias, which is also the name of a genus in the family. Most spurges such as Euphorbia paralias are herbs, but some, especially in the tropics, are shrubs or trees, such as Hevea brasiliensis. Some, such as Euphorbia canariensis, are succulent and resemble cacti because of convergent evolution. This family occurs mainly in the tropics, with the majority of the species in the Indo-Malayan region and tropical America a strong second. A large variety occurs in tropical Africa, but they are not as abundant or varied as in the two other tropical regions. However, Euphorbiaceae also has many species in nontropical areas such as the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East, South Africa, and the southern United States.Hypericum hirsutum
Hypericum hirsutum is a flowering plant in the genus Hypericum commonly known as hairy St John's-wort. It is found in Western Europe.Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute
"Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute", (formerly Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute) () renamed in the fond memory of visionary Prime Minister of India Shri Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru is an autonomous Institute established by the Government of Kerala on 17 November 1979 at Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala. It functions under the umbrella of the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment (KSCSTE), Government of Kerala. The Royal Botanic Gardens (RBG), Kew played an exemplary and significant role in shaping and designing the lay out of the JNTBGRI garden in its formative stages.
The Institute undertakes research in conservation biology, Biotechnology, plant taxonomy, microbiology, phytochemistry, ethnomedicine and ethnophamacology, which are the main areas considered to have immediate relevance to the development of the garden. While taxonomists prepared a flora of the garden documenting the native plant wealth before mass introduction and face lift which subsequently followed, the bio-technologists mass multiplied plants of commercial importance, especially orchids for cultivation and distribution to the public.
JNTBGRI makes a comprehensive survey of the economic plant wealth of Kerala, to conserve, preserve and sustainably utilize the plant wealth. The institute carries out botanical, horticultural and chemical research for plant improvement and utilization; and offers facilities for the improvement of ornamental plants and propagation in the larger context of the establishment of nursery and flower trade. The cultivation and culturing of plants of India/other countries with comparable climatic condition for the economic benefit of Kerala/India is also taken care. Activities to help botanical teaching and to create public understanding of the value of plant research is initiated by JNTBGRI. JNTBGRI gardens medicinal plants, ornamental plants and various introduced plants of economic or aesthetic value. JNTBGRI also serves as a source of supply of improved plants which are not readily available from other agencies.
Scientific researches on plant wealth are pursued through the following Divisions:
1. Garden Management, Education, Information and Training
2. Plant Genetic Resources
3. Biotechnology and Bioinformatics
4. Conservation Biology
5. Ethnomedicine and Ethnopharmacology
6. Phytochemistry and Phytopharmacology
7. Plant Systematics and Evolutionary Sciences
The Marantaceae are a family, the arrowroot family, of flowering plants known for its large starchy rhizomes. It is sometimes called the prayer-plant family. Combined morphological and DNA phylogenetic analyses indicate the family originated in Africa, although this is not the center of its extant diversity.Menispermaceae
Menispermaceae ( Botanical Latin : 'Moonseed Family' from Greek mene 'crescent moon' and sperma 'seed' ) is a family of flowering plants. The alkaloid Tubocurarine, a neuromuscular blocker and the active ingredient in the 'tube curare' form of the dart poison curare, is derived from the South American liana Chondrodendron tomentosum. Several other South American genera belonging to the family have been used to prepare the 'pot' and calabash' forms of curare. The family contains 68 genera with some 440 species, which are distributed throughout low-lying tropical areas with some species present in temperate and arid regions.Nymphaea alba
Nymphaea alba, also known as the European white water lily, white water rose or white nenuphar, is an aquatic flowering plant of the family Nymphaeaceae. It is native to North Africa, temperate Asia, Europe and Tropical Asia (India).O-methylated flavonoid
The O-methylated flavonoids or methoxyflavonoids are flavonoids with methylations on hydroxyl groups (methoxy bonds). O-methylation has an effect on the solubility of flavonoids.Phytochemistry (journal)
Phytochemistry is a peer-reviewed scientific journal covering pure and applied plant chemistry, plant biochemistry and molecular biology. It is published by Elsevier and is an official publication for the Phytochemical Society of Europe and the Phytochemical Society of North America.
A sister journal Phytochemistry Letters is published since 2008.Plant physiology
Plant physiology is a subdiscipline of botany concerned with the functioning, or physiology, of plants. Closely related fields include plant morphology (structure of plants), plant ecology (interactions with the environment), phytochemistry (biochemistry of plants), cell biology, genetics, biophysics and molecular biology.
Fundamental processes such as photosynthesis, respiration, plant nutrition, plant hormone functions, tropisms, nastic movements, photoperiodism, photomorphogenesis, circadian rhythms, environmental stress physiology, seed germination, dormancy and stomata function and transpiration, both parts of plant water relations, are studied by plant physiologists.Prosopis
Prosopis is a genus of flowering plants in the pea family, Fabaceae. It contains around 45 species of spiny trees and shrubs found in subtropical and tropical regions of the Americas, Africa, Western Asia, and South Asia. They often thrive in arid soil and are resistant to drought, on occasion developing extremely deep root systems. Their wood is usually hard, dense and durable. Their fruits are pods and may contain large amounts of sugar. The generic name means "burdock" in late Latin and originated in the Greek language.Psychoactive plant
Psychoactive plants are plants, or preparations thereof, that upon ingestion induce psychotropic effects. As stated in a reference work:
Psychoactive plants are plants that people ingest in the form of simple or complex preparations in order to affect the mind or alter the state of consciousness.
Psychoactivity may include sedative, stimulant, euphoric, deliriant, and hallucinogenic effects.
Several hundred psychoactive plants are known.
Some important examples of psychoactive plants include Coffea arabica (coffee), Camellia sinensis (tea), Nicotiana tabacum (tobacco), and Cannabis (including hashish).
Psychoactive plants have been used ritually (e.g., peyote as an entheogen), medicinally (e.g., opium as an analgesic), and therapeutically (e.g., cannabis as a drug) for thousands of years. Hence, the sociocultural and economic significance of psychoactive plants is enormous.Sanguisorba officinalis
Sanguisorba officinalis, the great burnet, is a plant in the family Rosaceae, subfamily Rosoideae. It is native throughout the cooler regions of the Northern Hemisphere in Europe, northern Asia, and northern North America.
It is a herbaceous perennial plant growing to 1 m tall, which occurs in grasslands, growing well on grassy banks. It flowers June or July.Sanguisorba officinalis is an important food plant for the European large blue butterflies Maculinea nausithous and M. teleius.Stilbenoid
Stilbenoids are hydroxylated derivatives of stilbene. They have a C6–C2–C6 structure. In biochemical terms, they belong to the family of phenylpropanoids and share most of their biosynthesis pathway with chalcones. Stilbenoids can be produced by plants and bacteria.Symphytum
Symphytum is a genus of flowering plants in the borage family, Boraginaceae. There are up to 35 species, known by the common name comfrey (pronounced ). Some species and hybrids, particularly S. officinale and S. × uplandicum, are used in gardening and herbal medicine. They are not to be confused with Cynoglossum virginianum, known as wild comfrey, another member of the borage family.Tribulus terrestris
Tribulus terrestris is an annual plant in the caltrop family (Zygophyllaceae) widely distributed around the world. It is adapted to grow in dry climate locations in which few other plants can survive. It is native to warm temperate and tropical regions in southern Eurasia, Africa, North America, and Australia. An aggressive and hardy invasive species, T. terrestris is widely known as a nuisance for its small woody fruit – the bur – having sharp spines which attach to crop workers, pedestrians, bicycle tires, and the mouths and fur of grazing animals.Withania somnifera
Withania somnifera, known commonly as ashwagandha, Indian ginseng, poison gooseberry, or winter cherry is a plant in the Solanaceae or nightshade family. Several other species in the genus Withania are morphologically similar. Although commonly used as a medicinal herb in Ayurvedic medicine, there is no conclusive clinical evidence that it is effective for treating any ailment.
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