Pharmacognosy - medicinal plants (herbs)

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Xanthine - Ergot - Rauwolfia or Rauvolfia

 Alkaloids of Xanthine, Ergot and Rauwolfia.

Xanthine Alkaloids

Coffee plant

The alkaloids of this group are:

  • Theobromine (see Cocoa)
  • Theophylline

These alkaloids relax various smooth muscles in particular those related to bronchia, being effective in treatments for asthma or other kinds of bronchoconstriction. Caffeine and theophylline are stimulants of the central nervous system. The most powerful of them is theophylline.

 For more details see:
Properties and effects of xanthines


Ergot Alkaloids

Rice plant
Rice plant

Ergot is the parasitic growth of the fungi Claviceps Purpurea in several grasses such as rye, wheat, oats, barley and rice.


The Rye is used as the reference plant for obtaining, to prevent the diversity of composition and strength to those obtained in other different plants.



These alkaloids have a wide variety of chemical constituents. Pharmacologically, the most importants are the ergonovine and the ergotamine.

Both act on the central nervous system and stimulate the smooth muscle. The ergotamine is used in the treatment of migraine and other headaches.

Rauwolfia or Rauvolfia Alkaloid

Rauwolfia or Rauvolfia
Rauwolfia or Rauvolfia

The Rauwolfia belongs to the order of Apocinaceae grouping about 50 species.

The alkaloids obtained as pure natural crystals are the rescinnamine and the reserpine.

The principal action of these alkaloids is in the central nervous system and the cardiovascular system.

They are used as hypotensive and coadyuvants in psychotherapies.


See also

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