Definition - Drugs Containing Alkaloids

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Chapter: Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry : Drugs Containing Alkaloids

An alkaloid is a nitrogenous organic molecule that has a pharmacological effect on humans and animals. They are a class of compounds which typically contain nitrogen and have complex ring structures. They occur naturally in seed bearing plants and are found in berries, bark, fruit, roots and leaves.


Drugs Containing Alkaloids



DEFINITION

 

 

An alkaloid is a nitrogenous organic molecule that has a pharmacological effect on humans and animals. They are a class of compounds which typically contain nitrogen and have complex ring structures. They occur naturally in seed bearing plants and are found in berries, bark, fruit, roots and leaves. Often, they are bases which have some physiological effect. The name derives from the word alkaline; originally, the term was used to describe any nitrogen-containing base (an amine in modern terms). Alkaloids are found as secondary metabolites in plants (e.g. in Vinca and Datura), animals (e.g. in shellfish) and fungi, and can be extracted from their sources by treatment with acids (usually hydrochloric acid or sulphuric acid, though organic acids, such as maleic acid and citric acid are sometimes used).

Usually alkaloids are derivatives from amino acids. Even though many alkaloids are poisonous (e.g. strychnine or coniine), some are used in medicine as analgesics (pain relievers) or anaesthetics, particularly morphine and codeine. Most alkaloids have a very bitter taste.

 

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