What Are the Practical Uses of Alkaloids?

Among other uses, alkaloids are found in Traditional Medicine. These compounds are known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-platelet effects. Additionally, they are effective in preventing the growth of tobacco hornworm larvae.

What Are the Practical Uses of Alkaloids?
What Are the Practical Uses of Alkaloids?

What Are the Practical Uses of Alkaloids?

They have also been proposed to be storage forms for nitrogen and as protections from ultraviolet light. But what exactly are they used for? Let’s take a closer look! So, what are the practical uses of alkaloids?

Traditional medicine

The term “alkaloids” is associated with traditional medicine and botanical drugs. In fact, there are more than 27,000 alkaloids reported in the DNP, which is updated annually.

This database includes newly reported or reinvestigated alkaloids. The term “alkaloid” also refers to compounds produced from a specific source mostly from kratom gold strain. The DNP also includes references to related uses of alkaloids. Traditional medicine uses of alkaloids vary in different regions.

Alkaloids are naturally occurring substances that are essential to plant life. In fact, they make up around 20 percent of plants’ secondary metabolites and play an important role in plant defense.

Their natural products act as anesthetics, cardioprotective, anti-inflammatory agents, and other biological functions. Examples of bioactive alkaloids are morphine, strychnine, quinine, and nicotine.

Antiplatelet agents

The antiplatelet properties of alkaloids are known from several biological sources. In humans, aspirin is one example. It inhibits platelet factor 4 release and generation and increases cAMP levels. The cyclooxygenase inhibitor, aspirin, has a wide range of potential uses. Antiplatelet agents of alkaloids have a broad range of mechanisms and have been used for centuries.

Most alkaloids are chemically classified according to their structural characteristics. A general classification consists of amines, which are compounds with one or more nitrogen atoms in a ring. Some alkaloids, such as nicotine, are soluble in water or in most organic solvents.

They are crystalline solids that have pronounced physiological activity. Most of them are known for their cardiovascular effects, but there are some ointments with even greater antiplatelet activity.

Anti-inflammatory agents

Several plant-derived alkaloids have been studied for their anti-inflammatory properties. These include isoquinoline, diterpene, and aconitine alkaloids. These compounds all showed some anti-inflammatory activity.

There are over 500 species of Aconitum. The alkaloids found in this species may have beneficial effects in rheumatic disorders. Further detailed mechanistic studies could lead to the discovery of more effective therapeutic agents.

Oxymatrine and ellipticine inhibit the expression of IL-6 and IL-8, thereby reducing fibroblast-like synoviocyte migration and invasion. Oxymatrine also inhibits the expression of interleukins and IL-8.

Both alkaloids are potent in the prevention of inflammatory disorders. Similarly, elipticine inhibits the proliferation of fibroblast-like synoviocytes and induces cell death via increased expression of caspase-3.


Alkaloids are chemicals that can be toxic to humans. To evaluate the level of toxicity, studies need to analyze the concentrations of alkaloids in different plant parts and secretions. These studies focused on flower parts and secretory products.

They can be used as a surrogate for other alkaloids. The following table lists the acute EC50 and EQS values for alkaloids. Unless a source of toxicity is known, there is no way to determine a safe dose.

Cattle and sheep are more vulnerable than sheep, despite the fact that they are both plants. Differences in liver metabolism might explain this. In cattle, an injectable dose of 16 mg codeine per kilogram of live weight can kill a cow. Moreover, field trials have shown that poison hemlock causes crooked calf disease in cattle.

Similarly, poison hemlock can cause deformed calves in sheep and cattle, but these effects are rare and a pig’s fetus may be resistant to it.

Inhibitor of neurotransmitters

Alkaloids are compounds that inhibit the activity of two enzymes that are necessary for the secretion of neurotransmitters – cholinesterase and serotonin. They are powerful anticholinesterase inhibitors that have multiple targets, including neuronal cell death and neurodegeneration.

Furthermore, some of them act on multiple targets, including neuroprotection, neuroinflammation, and tau hyperphosphorylation. This makes them an excellent therapeutic candidate for neurodegenerative diseases.
Most alkaloids follow the Lipinski rules of drug likeness.

However, their high potency has limited clinical use as they have low extraction yields. Further research and development are needed to improve the efficacy of alkaloids as therapeutic agents. But there are many potential uses for alkaloids. Listed below are some examples of their diverse properties. And don’t forget to read the full article for more information.

Anti-infective agents

Phytochemicals such as polyphenols, terpenoids, and alkaloids are all potential antibacterial agents. All of these compounds are heterocyclic nitrogen compounds with variable chemical structures, and a variety of antibacterial properties. Numerous studies have demonstrated antibacterial activity of alkaloids, and most of these compounds act through EPI activity, or endopeptidase I activity.

Antibacterial agents inhibit bacterial growth and prevent them from escaping through the cell wall. These agents interfere with the synthesis of vital bacterial components, and thus circumvent conventional mechanisms of antibacterial resistance.

They target multiple bacterial targets including bacterial cell-wall biosynthesis, protein biosynthesis, and DNA replication, and their metabolic pathways. However, the antibacterial activity of these compounds is dependent on their mode of action.

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