AskDefine | Define phytochemistry

User Contributed Dictionary



From phyto- "plant" + chemistry


  1. In the context of "chemistry|botany": The scientific study of the chemicals found in plants.
  2. The collection of chemicals and chemical processes found in a particular plant.
    The phytochemistry of mosses is very different from that of other plants.

Extensive Definition

Phytochemistry is in the strict sense of the word the study of phytochemicals. These are chemicals derived from plants. In a narrower sense the terms are often used to describe the large number of secondary metabolic compounds found in plants. Many of these are known to provide protection against insect attacks and plant diseases. They also exhibit a number of protective functions for human consumers.
Techniques commonly used in the field of phytochemistry are extraction, isolation and structural elucidation (MS,1D and 2D NMR) of natural products, as well as various chromatography techniques (MPLC, HPLC, LC-MS).

Constituent elements

The list of simple elements of which plants are primarily constructed—carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, calcium, phosphorus, etc.—is not different from similar lists for animals, fungi, or even bacteria. The fundamental atomic components of plants are the same as for all life; only the details of the way in which they are assembled differs.
The following tables list element nutrients essential to plants. Uses within plants are generalized.


Eastern medicine

Phytochemistry is widely used in the field of Chinese medicine especially in the field of herbal medicine.
Phytochemical technique mainly applies to the quality control of Chinese medicine or herbal medicine of various chemical components, such as saponins, alkaloids, volatile oils, flavonoids and anthraquinones. In the development of rapid and reproducible analytical techniques, the combination of HPLC with different detectors, such as diode array detector (DAD), refractive index detector (RID), evaporative light scattering detector (ELSD) and mass spectrometric detector (MSD), has been widely developed.
In most cases, biologically active compounds in Chinese medicine or herbal medicine have not been determined. Therefore, it is important to use the phytochemical methods to screen and analyze bioactive components, not only for the quality control of crude drugs, but also for the elucidation of their therapeutic mechanisms. Modern pharmacological studies indicate that binding to receptors or ion channels on cell membrane is the first step of some drug actions. A new method in phytochemistry; biochromatography, has been developed. This method combines human red cell membrane extraction and high performance liquid chromatography to screen potential active components in Chinese medicine.


phytochemistry in Arabic: كيمياء العقاقير
phytochemistry in Spanish: Fitoquímico
phytochemistry in Persian: فیتو شیمی
phytochemistry in French: Phytochimie
phytochemistry in Polish: Fitochemia
phytochemistry in Russian: Фитохимия
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