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Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Plant Chemicals, roles in Medicine and Healthy Living

plant chemicals and pharmaceutics

Phytochemicals are chemicals present in plants and this gives it the name Plant Chemicals.
Their presence in plants serves many roles including serving as Nutrient for the plant, protecting the plant part from infection or attacks.

There are two major classes of plant chemicals, namely; Primary and secondary plant phytochemicals.

Primary Plant chemicals contribute nutrient to plant and humans whe consumed, they include;

  • Carbohydrates example in cassava and yam tubes, vegetable leaves and others
  • Proteins found in leaves including cassava leaves legumes like beans and others
  • Fats like that present in ground nuts and other oily plants
  • Vitamins  present in plant parts

Secondary plant chemicals are otherwise referred to as Products of Secondary Metabolism because they are used as natural prescription for emolirate a disease condition, and also in pharmaceutics for the formulation and synthesis of drugs

They elicit and endocrine and metabolic function and perform curative activities and are referred to as Nutraceuticals. 

They are derived biochemically from proteins; amino acids while some are derived from other molecules (the  biosynthetic conversion of Acetyl CoA to Malonyl CoA and some cases to Palmitoyl CoA).

Secondary plant chemical Compounds include;
  • Steroids
  • Hormones
  • Terpenoids (eg Mono, di, tri, tetra terpenes)
  • Gibbrelins and auxins (growth hormones in plants are monoterpenes and diterpenes)

Other important secondary compounds include:

  • Flavonoids
  • Alkaloids
  • Phenolics and polyphenolics
  • Saponins
  • Limonoids and sesquiterpene lactones

Uses of Plant chemicals in Medicine

Phytochemicals have been employed in pharmaceutics for production of drugs and also in homes for managing ailments. 
For example Cimestidine or Targament is an an antiulcer drug derived sesquiterpene lactones, They are obtain by an acyclic modification of sesquiterpene lactone.

Paracetamol: tyrosine, phenylalanine, and tryptophan which are present in plant parts becomes the precursors for the production of paracetamol – 4 acetamino phenols which is a drug.

Anthelmintic drugs are made from saponins and a saponin call Ginserg is used for the production of antihypertensive drug diphydipine.

Succinyl Choline is branded as Kitala Hydrochroride used as anaesthesia before surgery.

This set of compounds are ubiquitous in the plant kingdom while some are found in the animal kingdom. They are foundation of modern pharmaceutical products applied in clinical medicines. They include sequiterpene lactone, flavonoid, limonoids, saponins, intertepenoids, sterols,steroids, alkaloids, tanins, terpenes, hirsintinoloids, polyphenols, phenolics etc.



ANTIOXIDATION – polyphenolics compounds and phenols, flavonoids, carotenoids play a role in sequestering or chelating peroxides and superoxide free radicals in plasma

ANTIPARASITIC – saponins and sesquiterpene lactones foams heavily (saponin used in lager beer). In combantrin and other antiparasistic drugs contain saponins and sesquiterpenes lactones- they fight against Ascaris lumbricoids.

ANTIMICROBIAL – Carotenoids, flavonoids, phenolics and polyphenolics possess antimicrobial property

ABORTIFICIENT – Courmarins, terpenes and sterols

ANALGESICS – alkaloid flavonoids and luminoids

ANTI INFLAMMATORY – saponin, liminoids

HORMONE PRODUCTION – saponins, steroids and sterols are the basis for production of steroid hormones in the body(de novo) or invivo.

HABIT FORMING – They are also habit forming substances like cocaine, heroine, amphetanins, tetamins, morphines, cannabis etc. 

The list continues. We will like to here more from you please feel free to share some below uing the comment box thanks.