Biological Activity of Natural Products by Jaroslava Svarc-Gajic

By Jaroslava Svarc-Gajic

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Since lycopene is very unpolar molecule in order to be absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract, the presence of dietary fat is required. 7). 7. Absorption of lycopene from the gastrointestinal tract. Lycopene exhibits potent antioxidant capacity with quenching ability hundred times higher than vitamin E, as well as other effects (Kong and Ismail, 2011). This pigment efficiently reduces skin damage caused by UV light and acts as an activator of phase II enzymes. Health risks associated to high lycopene intake are linked to lycopene producing itself reactive radicals in the body, especially when taken in supplement form and under the influence of external factors, such as cigarette smoke.

Phytoestrogens may help to reduce menopausal symptoms and osteoporosis. Many of compounds from this class act as enzyme inductors or inhibitors. Diterpenes from coffee and vegetable indoles can activate microsomal enzymes, whereas grapefruit must be avoided when taking drug therapy due to presence of strong inhibitors bergamottin and paradisine. Some phytochemicals act physically, such as proanthocyanidins from cranberries that bind to cell walls of the urinary tract preventing the adhesion of pathogens to human cell walls.

Atropine in the form of its sulfate salt may also be used for spastic conditions of the gastrointestinal tract, but the preference is given to hyoscyamine due to extreme toxicity of atropine. Cocaine is another tropane alkaloid produced in Erythroxylum coca and Erythroxylum truxillense. Coca leaves, chewed or masticated with lime to improve buccal absorption, are used in some parts of Latin America as an energizer. The alkaloid has paralyzing effect on sensory nerve endings but is too toxic to be used as parenteral anesthetic.

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