The extraction of secondary metabolites from plants, and natural sources in general, is a cornerstone in medicinal chemistry and required the development of sustainable extraction techniques. Microwave-Assisted Solid Extraction (MASE) is a promising extractive methodology being more effective than traditional extraction techniques. It offers higher and faster extraction performance ability with less solvent consumption and protection toward thermolabile constituents. For these reasons, MASE resulted in a suitable extractive methodology in all aspects, including economical and practical, compared to traditional extraction techniques, especially over Soxhlet or solid–liquid extraction. In this chapter, a brief theoretical background about the use of microwave energy for extraction has been presented for better understanding. Then, the potential of MASE for the extraction of secondary metabolites from natural resources, for evaluating the plant productivity and for evaluating the quality of the natural matrices will be reviewed. The discussion is supported by reporting recent applicative examples of MASE applied to the extraction of the most representative chemical classes of secondary metabolites, with a special focus on some drugs or compounds of pharmaceutical and nutraceutical interest.
Part of the book: Microwave Heating