Secondary metabolites from plant organisms have always been excellent options for the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and food industries. Essential oils are a type of metabolites found in vegetables, and their chemical composition is diverse; however, monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes are inside the most abundant molecules. These terpenes have a diverse chemical composition that range from a simple molecule with carbon and hydrogen to more complex molecules with oxygenated organic groups, such as alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, and ethers. Many of these molecules with 10 and 15 carbon atoms have an especially important biological activity, being important the antimicrobial, antifungal, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, insecticide, analgesic, anticancer, cytotoxic, among others. Some of these substances are potentially toxic, and hence, they should be handled with caution, especially when they are pure. They are easily obtained by different methods, and their industrial value grows every year, with a market of several million dollars. This chapter seeks to provide a better understanding of this type of bioactive molecules, with an emphasis in those whose information is remarkable in the scientific literature and whose value for health and human well-being makes them extremely important.
Part of the book: Terpenes and Terpenoids
Mass spectrometry is one of the best techniques for analyzing the structure of a molecule. It usually provides information about the molecular weight of a substance, and it can present atomic mass units and up to ten thousandths of atomic mass units depending on the accuracy of the mass analyzer. In addition, it provides information on the positive ions formed in the ionization process, which is linked to the chemical structure of the molecule and the nature of the bonds. This technique is widely used for analyzing compounds from natural products. The development of the technique combined with the use of software and databases has been remarkable in recent years, improving the ionization processes and the ion analysis. Since natural products generally constitute a mixture of a complex quantity of components, mechanisms have been developed for coupling to chromatographic techniques of various kinds. This review aims to show how mass spectrometry has contributed to the qualitative quality control in natural products, as well as in the finding of new metabolites of industrial interest.
Part of the book: Natural Drugs from Plants