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Chapter: Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry : Drugs Containing Alkaloids

Although numerous alkaloids exist, they have similar prop-erties when separated. In general, they are colourless, crystalline solids which are basic, have a ring structure, and have definite melting points. They are also derived from plants and have a bitter taste. However, some exceptions are known. For instance, some alkaloids are not basic..........


PROPERTIES

 

 

Although numerous alkaloids exist, they have similar prop-erties when separated. In general, they are colourless, crystalline solids which are basic, have a ring structure, and have definite melting points. They are also derived from plants and have a bitter taste. However, some exceptions are known. For instance, some alkaloids are not basic and others are brightly coloured (betanidine, beriberine, sangui-narine) or liquid (nicotine). Other alkaloids are produced synthetically. Most alkaloids are also chiral molecules which mean they have nonsuperimposable mirror images. This results in isomers that have different chemical properties. For example, one isomer may have a physiological function while the other does not.

 

Generally free bases of alkaloids are soluble in organic solvents and insoluble in water, where as alkaloidal salts are soluble in water and partially soluble in organic solvents. For example, strychnine hydrochloride is much more soluble in water than strychnine as a base.

 

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