Alkaloids  Nature's Curse or Blessing?
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Manfred Hesse

Alkaloids: Nature's Curse or Blessing?







ISBN: 3-906390-24-1
426 pages
September 2002


As numerous historical documents - on fireclay, papyrus, or paper - testify, alkaloids, nitrogen contining natural substances, have been companions of mankind from ancient time. Valued as drugs and stimulants, some species are also feared because of their addictive potential, and often it seems impossible to distinguish these effects unambiguously. The chemistry of alkaloids has been captivating chemists for ages and generations. This is the first comprehensive reference work providing a concise overview of structure, properties, and history of these unique and fascinating substances!
The volume is organised into three main sections. Part 1 examines the chemically relevant aspects by means of carefully selected examples. After a structural classification, structure elucidation (including common pitfalls) is discussed. Moreover, chiroptical properties and synthetic pathways are detailed. Part 2 is devoted to biological and biochemical aspects. It rationalizes chemotaxonomy and biogenesis by means of examples (indole and 1-benzyl isoquinoline alkaloids) and presents details about the functionality of several alkaloids produced by plants and animals. Part 3 finally describes the cultural and historical significance of the most important alkaloid sources. Exciting anecdotes and historical reports illuminate the use of hemlock, ergot, opium, tobacco, coffee, and cinchona, to name only a few.
The unique and comprehensive explanation of the most important features of alkaloids makes this book a compendium valuable not only for experts but also for the layman interested in pharmacy.


  1. Introduction.

  2. Classification of Alkaloids.

  3. Structure Elucidation of Alkaloids

  4. Artifacts.

  5. Chiroptical Properties of Alkaloids.

  6. Alkaloid Synthesis.

  7. Alkaloids and Chemotaxonomy.

  8. Aspects of Alkaloid Biogenesis.

  9. Biological Significance of Alkaloids

  10. Historical Aspects of Alkaloid Chemistry.

  11. Active Principles from Selected Alkaloid Sources and Their Cultural and Historical Significance.

  12. Index


" insightful treatment of a complex subject and a valuable reference source..."(Chemistry in Britain, October 2002)

"...a very handsome book for the coffee table..." (Perkin Transactions, Vol.1, No.23, 2002)

"The reviewer must confess that he could not put the book down...most medicinal chemists would find it an appealing choice for pleasure reading...highly recommended." (Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, Vol. 46, No. 5)

"...The book is beautifully produced with many excellent figures and photographs.  As a book for the interested chemical scientists it serves it intended remit excellently" (Chemistry & Industry, 19May 2003)

A" an excellent survey of the known classes of alkaloids, is remarkably comprehensive, and is further enhanced by the aesthetically pleasing and consistent style of the structural formulas..." (Angew. Chem., Int. Ed. 2003, 42, 4852)


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Last modified: 12/18/10