Sunday, 28 October 2018

October phytochemicals - absinthe, aspirin, and more!

Honokiol: a polyphenol lignin antioxidant from the bark and cones of Magnolia spp. A traditional medicine whose hydrophobicity facilitates crossing the blood-brain barrier (thus bioavailability) where it exerts various phamacological effects.

Thujone: a bicyclic monoterpene from wormwood (the aster Artemisia absinthium) and many other plant species. It is a GABA agonist that can cause muscle spasms and convulsions (it is dangerous!). Historically used in the making of absinthe, but does not seem to be psychoactive. It is apparently still unclear what (if any) psychoactive ingredient is present in absinthe

Salicin: a glycosylated salicyl alcohol - responsible for the anti-inflammatory and pain relief effects of willow bark (Salix spp.) and in part for the effects of castoreum (if you haven't looked up castoreum - you should). It has been used since hundreds of years BC, and inspired modern aspirin - reacting salicylic acid with an acetylating agent gives the acetyl salicylic acid that is used the world over.

Labdane: historically harvested as incense (mentioned in Genesis?) by brushing labdanum resin from Cistus ladanifer (Malvales). It was also harvested by brushing the legs of livestock (sheep and goats) that had been brushing against Cistus bushes. A precursor to bioactive and scented terpenes in both gymno- and angiosperms, labdanes are still used in permumes today.