Throughout history, mankind has utilized plants as a primary source of food, medicine, and shelter. This tradition continues today. In 2001, the World Health Organization estimated that approximately 80% of the world’s population was directly dependent on plant-based medicines (Cox and Heinrich 2001). In contrast with most other organisms, plants have the ability to undergo a process of secondary metabolism, in which unique compounds are produced for the purposes of defense, pollinator attraction, and coloration, among others. Examples of these important secondary metabolites usually fall within the following natural product classes: alkaloids, non-protein amino acids, cyanogenic glycosides, coumarins, glucosinolates, monoterpenes, sesquiterpene lactones, diterpenoids, saponins, liminoids, carotenoids, phenols, flavonoids, and quinones (Dewick 2001).


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Medicinal Plant Monographs 661 pgs