Bitter And Miscellaneous Glycosides

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Chapter: Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry : Drugs Containing Glycosides

Bitter glycosides are a class of compounds that plays an important role in the digestive process. Bitter drugs and bitter constituents are used since a very early period as stomachics, febrifuges, and bitter tonics and in digestive disturbances.


BITTER AND MISCELLANEOUS GLYCOSIDES

 

 

Bitter glycosides are a class of compounds that plays an important role in the digestive process. Bitter drugs and bitter constituents are used since a very early period as stomachics, febrifuges, and bitter tonics and in digestive disturbances.

 

The bitterness of food on the tongue plays a very important role as the taste of bitter foods stimulates the appetite and triggers the secretion of digestive juices in the stomach, which in turn improves the break down of food. Bitters begin by stimulating the taste buds. This triggers off a reflex nerve action which increases the flow of saliva and stomach enzymes. At the same time, the hormone gastrin is secreted by the walls of the stomach. This improves the digestive process, by improving the passage of food from the stomach to the intestines. The sum total of this is an improvement in the digestive function of the stomach and small intestines. Bitters can also be very useful to improve immune disorders resulting from food intolerance or dietary antigen leakage, protect gut tissue (by increasing the tone of the gastro-esophageal sphincter thereby preventing reflux of corrosive stomach contents into the esophagus in ‘heart burn’, hiatus hernia, or esophageal inflammation), promote bile flow (thereby providing for increased ability of the liver to remove a toxic load from incomplete digestion and also provide for better digestion in the duodenum and small intestine), and enhance pancreatic function (normalizing hormone secretions to moderate excessive swings in blood–sugar levels).

 

Examples of bitter digestives are Blessed Thistle, Barberry bark, Goldenseal, Dandelion, Hops flowers, Yellow dock, and Gentian root. Bitter drugs preparations should be taken before or during meals otherwise they cause digestive disturbances like diarrhoea, and pain in the stomach.

 

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