Isoquinoline Alkaloids

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Chapter: Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry : Drugs Containing Alkaloids

Isoquinoline is a double carbon ring containing one nitrogen atom. Plants containing isoquinoline alkaloids are Argemone species (Prickly poppy) Chelidonium species (Celandine poppy) Corydalis species (Fitweed) Dicentra species (Dutch-man’s breeches) Papaver species (Poppy) Sanguinera species (Bloodroot).


ISOQUINOLINE ALKALOIDS

 

 

Isoquinoline is a double carbon ring containing one nitrogen atom. Plants containing isoquinoline alkaloids are Argemone species (Prickly poppy) Chelidonium species (Celandine poppy) Corydalis species (Fitweed) Dicentra species (Dutch-man’s breeches) Papaver species (Poppy) Sanguinera species (Bloodroot).

 

The isoquinoline alkaloids papaverine, sangumarine, protoverine, and chelidonine are GI tract irritants and CNS stimulants. Isoquinoline alkaloids are found in varying quantities in the prickly poppy, bloodroot and celandine poppy. Many have varying degrees of neurological effects, ranging from relaxation and euphoria to seizures. They also cause vasodilation.

 

Many of these plants have been used in herbal prepara-tions. Scotch broom is smoked for relaxation and has mild sedative-hypnotic effects. Prickly poppy is smoked as a euphoriant. Mescal bean is a hallucinogenic, which is used in Native American rituals and in medicine. Sanguinaria species (bloodroot) extract is used commercially as a dental plaque inhibitor. Papaverine, found in prickly poppy and bloodroot, has been used medically as a smooth muscle relaxant. Prickly poppy extracts act as capillary dilators and have been implicated in epidemic glaucoma in India. Celandine extracts are used as treatment of gastric and biliary disorders.

 

As a group, the isoquinolines have proven to be more poisonous to domestic livestock than to humans. In humans, pediatric poisonings are most common. Most of the isoquinolines are noxious in smell and taste and discourage ingestion, thus human toxicity is rare. Interestingly, some domestic species tolerate ingestion of isoquinoline and other alkaloids, and humans can ingest toxic alkaloids from the milk of poisoned animal and manifest symptoms.

 

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