Pharmacognosy - medicinal plants (herbs)

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Characteristics of xanthines. Xanthine chemical formula, caffeine, theophylline and theobromine.

What are the xanthines?

The xanthines are a group of organic compounds structurally related to uric acid, which appears in the metabolic chain as a product of the transformation of xanthines.

They are derived from purines and their methylated products have pharmacological interest such as theophylline (1,3-dimethyl-xanthine), Caffeine (1,3,7-trimethyl xatina) and theobromine (3,7-dimethyl-xanthine).

These three are alkaloids obtained from plants with a wide geographical distribution. They are found in Tea (Thea sinensis), Cocoa (Theobroma cacao), Coffee (Coffea arabica) and the Cola (Cola acuminata); from all of them derive countless drinks and teas consumed at least for half of the world population.

The structural formulas of xanthine and its natural derivatives are:

Xanthine                                      Caffeine

Theophylline                                Theobromine 

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Methylxanthines have poor water solubility, although this is intensified by the formation of complexes with many different compounds. The most important are those formed by theophylline and ethylenediamine to form aminophylline and the formation of double salts with sodium benzoate.

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