The Effect Of Alkaloids On Organisms And Functional Activity Essay
A. Alkaloids are the most diverse group of natural products that exist within living organisms (Hartmann, 1998). Alkaloids are a diverse group of low molecular weight; nitrogen-containing compounds mainly derived from amino acids, and are found in about 20% of plant species. Alkaloids play a very important role in organism metabolism and functional activity. They are metabolic products in plants, animals and microorganisms (Aniszewski, 2007). Due to their potent biological activity, many of the approximately 12,000 known alkaloids are used for certain physiological roles that can be both beneficial and detrimental to living organisms every day.
History of Alkaloids: When, How, and by Who? :
Alkaloids are noted to been used by humans since ancient times for medical and recreational use. During these ancient times alkaloid use was typically limited to priests, medicine men, shamans, magicians and witches due to the expertise needed in prescribing a non-lethal dose. The earliest evidence that humans used alkaloid-producing plants was over 4,000 years ago through the discovery of Assyrian clay tablets. On these plates many alkaloid-containing plants are mentioned. In 1817 German pharmacist Friedrich Serturner began a new focus on alkaloids when he was able to isolate morphine from opium. After Serturners break through the door was opened for French chemists Gay-Lussac and Robiquet to recognize the new class of compounds: alkalis (Lesch, 1981). Lussac and Robiquet…