Pharmacognosy - medicinal plants (herbs)

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Active ingredients

Theme II: Pharmacoergasy

Active ingredient

Defining active ingredient

The active ingredient is the substance that has pharmacological action on certain ailments or illnesses, solving or mitigating their healing.


Is the derivative organic product from biosynthesis of the plant and can be a simple or complex substance depending on the metabolic path resulting from photosynthesis.

Active ingredient of wormwood or absinthe
Molecule of α-thujone. “The thujone” or “Thujone” is the active ingredient of wormwood or absinthe.



The active ingredient can be part of the substances of plant reserves (carbohydrates), performs specific functions within the plant organ function (enzymes) or be the final product that is excreted by specific organs such as fruit or flowers (essential oils) or for specific areas such as the epidermis (gums and resins).

It will be located in certain tissues or distributed throughout the plant, which will influence the extraction technique for dosing and conservation (infusion, decoction, maceration).


The active ingredients can be classified for study within the general categories of organic compounds present in plants, in the following groups of compounds:

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