The vast and versatile pharmacological effects of medicinal plants are basically dependent on their phytochemical constituents. Generally, the phytochemical constituents of plants fall into two categories based on their role in basic metabolic processes, namely primary and secondary metabolites. Primary plant metabolites are involved in basic life functions; therefore, they are more or less similar in all living cells. On the other hand, secondary plant metabolites are products of subsidiary pathways as the shikimic acid pathway. In the course of studying, the medicinal effect of herbals is oriented towards the secondary plant metabolites. Secondary plant metabolites played an important role in alleviating several aliments in the traditional medicine and folk uses. In modern medicine, they provided lead compounds for the production of medications for treating various diseases from migraine up to cancer. Secondary plant metabolites are classified according to their chemical structures into various classes. In this chapter, we will be presenting various classes of secondary plant metabolites, their distribution in different plant families and their important medicinal uses.
Part of the book: Herbal Medicine