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Phytochemical Nomenclature

I remember that for the first time I came across phytochemical terminology when I read as a child Atlas of Medicinal Plants (Macků, Krejča, SAS). Then I did not understand the words as a further confirmation of the expertise of otherwise pleasant and logical text. I expected words like alkaloids and saponins to be part of a precise system of plant names that I do not understand. It made me so overwhelmed that I dared to study the definition of phytochemical terms as an experienced goat.

Phytochemical nomenclature quickly and without napkins

The terms of phytochemical nomenclature are based mostly on working methods of phytochemistry:

  • Alkaloids - substances of a basic nature containing nitrogen
  • Glycosides - substances to which sugar residues are attached
  • Saponins - substances that form foam when shaking
  • Bitterness - substances of bitter taste (as well as acids are substances taste acidic, iron)
  • Tannins - substances that precipitate proteins
  • Silica - a volatile non-polar fraction separable from plant material by distillation
  • Flavonoids - substances characterized by a certain type of aromatic skeleton
  • Etc. ( lignans , phytosteroids ...)

This jargon, which I would call "dry-latin Latin" with kindly forgiving phytochemists, is certainly useful in the first phase of the research, as it allows us to talk about plant yields, even though we know little about them. Another advantage of this terminology is that the layman, regardless of reality, makes the impression of a deep state of knowledge of the substance or plant in question.

Another specialty of phytochemical nomenclature is the formation of names of plant substances by combining scientific names and standard extensions ( Nicotiana - nicotine, Coffea - caffeine, Erythroxylon coca - cocaine, etc.). The first problem here is that such terminology is not unambiguous. For example, caffeine was also baptized as a tein (if extracted from a tea tree), matein (yerba maté), guaranin (guarana), etc. It is a long time for the laity to fully deal with the fact that despite many different names It really is the same substance.

Various extensions are used to indicate the substance's relevance to the phytochemical categories described above. E.g. We have panaxynol , panaxydol , panaxan, panaxin, panaxic acid (or ginseng acid transcript) and many others in Panaxoside (saponins, having the suffix -osid because they are both glycosides).

It fits the phytochemical nomenclature of ginseng and eleuterokoku

Ginseng and eleutherococcus well illustrate the problems of phytochemical nomenclature - this is critically expressed by the Davidov valency ( davydov2000es ).

"Panaxosid" to "ginsenoside" - my point of view

Ginseng saponins are referred to in the literature as panaxosides and ginsenosides. The name of ginsenoside is now more numerous. In my opinion, however, to designate unique ginseng saponins typical of ginseng ( Panax ), the etymologically more acceptable group name panaxoside than the name ginsenoside . The name panaxosid is well-founded because these are quite typical for the Panax family, and besides it, they are virtually no longer present in the plant kingdom. The name ginsenoside gives the impression that ginseng ( P. ginseng ) is somewhat significant in terms of "ginsenoside" content. This is not true - although P. ginseng is actually the "most traditional" ginseng, ginseng saponins occur in almost the same amount (albeit in other proportions) in American ginseng ( P. quinquefolius ) and are qualitatively represented in all other ginseng , Including the phylogenetically the least-related trifoliate ginseng ( Panax trifolius ).

The situation is a bit complicated by the fact that many specific ginseng saponins were baptized with the name "ginsenoside Rx n ", where x is the lower case of the alphabet a = 1, 2, 3, ... Choosing a chemical name is on its discoverer and does not collide with other names , There is no objection to her. Therefore, in these cases, the word "ginsenoside" is acceptable, as in the phrase "ginsenoside Rb 1 belonging to the panaxoside group".

The names of specific panaxosides

To distinguish a large number of similar compounds under the name panaxosid / ginsenoside , historical features are based on extraction methods - panaxosides stretched to chromatography are referred to as "Rf" ( relative to the front - relative to the face of chromatography), alphabet letters like Ra , Rb, Rc etc., or ginsenoside A, ginsenoside B, ginsenoside C etc. This labeling system appears to have served well phytochemicals alone, but it is too unsystematic for us.

"Eleutherosides" - an inappropriate name for the content of eleuterokok ostnitého

As regards Eleutherococcus senticosus , incorrectly Siberian ginseng , well-intentioned Brechman's attempt to name the complex of its active substances "eleutherosides" according to the ginseng panaxosid / ginsenoside model, Davidov ( davydov2000es ) finds it particularly inappropriate. "Eleutherosides" little deserve the prefix eleutero, since, unlike panaxosides, they have been previously described from other plants, and the suffix -oside because they are not specific glycosides but a group of chemically diverse substances. Unlike ginseng, the adaptogenic properties of eleutherococcus are not a matter of unique chemical compounds, but a combination of substances otherwise known from other plants - syringin (lilac, Syringa ), daukosterol (carrot, Daucus ), hederasaponin (ivy, Hedera ) ) and more.

| 24.1.2009