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Phytochemical nomenclature

I remember that for the first time I came across phytochemical nomenclature when I read the Atlas of Medicinal Plants (Mack, Krejča, SAS) as a child. At that time 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. I was terrified by the fact 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 - nitrogen-containing basic compounds
  • Glycosides - substances to which sugar residues are attached
  • Saponins - substances that form foam when shaking
  • Bitters - substances of bitter taste (as well as acids are substances taste acid, iron)
  • Tannins - substances that precipitate proteins
  • Silica - 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 undoubtedly useful in the first phase of research, as it allows us to talk about plant yields, even though we do not know anything 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 concerned.

Another specialty of phytochemical nomenclature is the formation of plant names with a combination of scientific names and standard suffixes ( 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 tein (if extracted from the tea tree), matein (yerba maté), guaranin (guarana), etc. It lasted for a while for us to deal fully 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 panaxosides (saponins, having the suffix -solid 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 also critically expressed by the Davidov valency ( davydov2000es ).

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

Ginseng saponins are referred to in the literature as panaxosides and ginsenosides. Much more common today is the name ginsenoside. In my opinion, however, to denote the unique ginseng saponins typical of the genus 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 right ( P. ginseng ) is somewhat significant in terms of the content of "ginsenosides". This is not true - although P. ginseng is actually the "most traditional" ginseng, ginseng saponins are found in almost the same amount (albeit in other ratios) and in American ginseng ( P. quinquefolius ) and qualitatively represented in all other ginseng , Including the phylogenetically least-related trigeminal 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 alphabet letter 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 panaxosid group".

The names of specific panaxosides

To distinguish a large number of similar compounds under the name panaxoside / ginsenoside , for historical reasons, labels based on extraction methods are used - panaxosides expanded for chromatography are referred to as "Rf" ( relative to front - relative to the face of chromatography), letters of the alphabet as 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 , an incorrectly Siberian ginseng , well-intentioned Brechman's attempt to name the complex of its "eleuterosides" according to the panaxosid / ginsenoside ginseng model, Davidov ( davydov2000es ) finds it particularly inappropriate. "Eleutherosides" deserve little as 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