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Review Article Open Access

Medicinally Important Phytochemicals: An Untapped Research Avenue

Abstract

The past decade has witnessed a tremendous resurgence in the interest and use of medicinal plants. The beneficial medicinal effects of plant materials typically result from the combinations of secondary products present in them known as phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are biologically active, naturally occurring chemical compounds found in fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, tea and seeds that promote human health and prevent diseases. The therapeutic effects of these medicinal plants can justifiably be attributed to, among others, the phytochemicals in them especially the flavonoids, alkaloids, sterols, terpenoids, phenolic acids, stilbenes, lignans, tannins and saponins. The abundance of scientific evidence indicates that such bioactive compounds have biological properties such as antioxidant activity, antimicrobial effect, modulation of detoxification enzymes, stimulation of the immune system, decrease of platelet aggregation and modulation of hormonemetabolism and anticancer property. This paper avails a review of medicinally important plant-derived compounds that can be used in design of more efficacious therapeutic agents against many communicable and non-communicable diseases.

Nyamai DW, Arika W, Ogola PE, Njagi ENM, Ngugi MP

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