Primary and secondary metabolites or why plants can't run.
How do natural products work? It all goes down to the active compound within a product also called the secondary metabolites.
Just like us humans, plants need basic compounds such as carbohydrates, lipids and proteins to produce different metabolites: primary and secondary metabolites. Primary metabolites and are involved in the growth and maintenance of the plant.
But the world out there can be evil, also for plants. Plants cannot run away. They have no feet, cannot hide in bed or defend themselves. That’s where the secondary metabolites come in. These compounds could be called the immune system of the plant.
That’s where the secondary metabolites come in. These compounds could be called the immune system of the plant.
🌿 Primary metabolites = maintenance + growth + development (essential for survival)
🌿 Secondary metabolites = protection + signaling + defense
Probably the most known secondary metabolite is caffeine. Caffeine is one of the active compounds of the coffee tree and its purpose is simple: defend. When coffee leaves fall on the ground, hey contaminate the soil with caffeine, which makes it difficult for other plants to germinate. Caffeine can also be toxic for many insects and herbivores.
For us humans, caffeine is non-toxic if consumed in moderation. But we can clearly feel the buzz of this secondary metabolite.
Caffeine is just one of over 100000 secondary metabolites known today.
From infections, inflammation, cold, digestive problems to pain and many other health disorders, secondary metabolites from plants have been used by humans for as long as we can think.
Pharmaceuticals and synthetic drugs as we know them today have only been around for the last 150 years.
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