Key Constituents

Coumarins: polyphenolic compounds that have been shown to have antimicrobial, antiviral, antiinflammatory, antidiabetic, antioxidant properties, and can inhibit some enzyme activity.

Essential Oils: also referred to as Volatile Oils, are responsible for the distinctive odors of plants when exposed to light or oxygen and evaporate when exposed to heat. Most are made up of terpenoid and phenylpropanoid compounds.

Fatty Acids: generated by the breakdown of fats during digestion, fatty acids help to insulate our body, store energy, and protect vital organs. The two groups that cannot be synthesized in the body and must be obtained through diet are Omega 3 and Omega 6.

Flavonoids: one of the most common plant pigments next to chlorophyll and carotenoids. These compounds strengthen capillaries, have antioxidant, antiviral, hepatoprotective, anti-inflammatory and anti-hypertensive properties. They attach to amino acid residue on enzyme surfaces and can inhibit some enzymes systems. They also stabilize membranes and help protect against environmental stress.

Lipids: large molecules that provide the structural component of membranes, for protective coatings of cells, serve as energy stores, can carry fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K in the blood. Subgroups of lipid include fatty acids, waxes, hydrocarbons, polyacetylenes, alkamides, hydrocarbon sulfides, and hydrocarbon esters.

Phenols: aromatic alcohols that have bactericidal, anti-septic, and anthelmintic properties. Amino acids, phenylpropanoids, salicylates and salicins, lignans, and coumarins are all derived from phenols. Constituents with the suffix -ol are part of this group.

Polyphenols: compounds of multiple phenols that have high antioxidative properties. The two largest groups of polyphenols are flavonoids and tannins.

Tannins: a subgroup of polyphenols that contain non-crystalline compounds that, when combined with water, creates a mildly acidic reaction. They are responsible for astringency and sour taste. They are anti-microbial in that they inhibit biofilm formation in pathogenic bacteria. Actions of tannins include drying up of mucus membranes, constriction of blood vessels, and binding affect in the gut. They can also protect mucus membranes.

Terpenes: constituents that are primarily responsible for the essential oil and aroma of a plant. There are thousands of different terpenes and are classified by its chemical structure. These classes are: Monoterpenes, Sesquiterpenes, Diterpenes and Triterpenes.

Volatile Oils: see Essential Oils