Understanding Medicinal Plants: Their Chemistry and Therapeutic Action
Prof. Bryan Hanson
Instructor's Resource Page for Chapter 4
Chapter 4 is a lexicon describing the various families of plant metabolites of medicinal value. For some courses, it may be more useful as a reference rather than material to be read straight through (for instance, in spring 2006 I did not cover this chapter except by the occasional reference). The learning objectives below reflect some basic terminology that one would generally want students to know sooner or later, because they are so commonly encountered. If desired, students could be required to recognize some subcategories. For example, one could require students to not only be able to indentify alkaloids generally but also to be able to pick out indole alkaloids from a series of structures.
- Know the difference between primary and secondary metabolites.
- Be able to define carbohydrates, saccharides, lipids, proteins, amino
acids, and nucleic acids, and give familiar examples of each.
- Understand the term polymer and give examples of primary metabolites
that are polymers, and the building blocks that make them up.
- Know the terms alkaloid, cyanogenic, glycoside, aglycone, phenolic compounds, and terpenes.
Teaching Ideas, Activities & Resources
Teaching the material from this chapter has the potential to go really flat and boring. I generally focus on specific chemical families as needed, and not try to do the entire chapter's material in a stand-alone fashion. To make the material more interesting, one can bring samples to class of certain classes. For instance, samples of essential oils can be used in the discussion of terpenes. A solution of witch hazel from the drug store can be used to illustrate the concept of astringency.
The background on this page is a 19th century woodcut of Phytolacca americana.
Last updated Thursday, September 1, 2011 . Contents & layout copyright 2011 Prof. Bryan Hanson