Alkaloids, which means alkali like substances are basic nitrogenous compounds of plant and animal origin. They generally possess a marked physiological action on man and animals. The nitrogen is usually part of heterocyclic ring system and it is mainly derived from amino acids.
- Basically alkaloids are bitter in nature and it acts as insecticides inside the plant.
- At certain cases it also act as detoxification in metabolic reactions.
- They may provide nitrogen to the plant organ in case of nitrogen deficiency.
- They sometimes act as growth regulator in certain metabolic system.
- They may be utilized as a source of energy in case of deficiency in carbon dioxide assimilation, especially those alkaloids containing a sugar moiety.
Alkaloids ends with the suffix -ine. Their name may be derived from the:-
- Genus name. Ex- Atropine from atropa
- Species name. Ex- Cocaine from coca
- Common name. Ex- Ergotamine from Ergot
- physiological name. Ex- Emetine (emetic)
- Discoverer. Ex- Pelletierine from Pelletier.
- Pharmacological action.
- Chemical structure.
- Biochemical origin.
- Taxonomical origin.
According to Hegnauer’s classification
This is bases on both the types of nitrogen and biochemical origin, three types of alkaloids are present
A. True alkaloids: These are derived from amino acids and have nitrogen in heterocyclic ring.