Flora scoping

Published May 11, 2020

Plants obvi­ous­ly can have med­i­c­i­nal prop­er­ties (think wil­low-bark tea or St. John’s Wort), but there can be a lot of tri­al and error sep­a­rat­ing old shamans’ tales from poten­tial medication.

So a group of Russian and Australian sci­en­tists have devel­oped “a fast and cost-effec­tive method of detect­ing and iden­ti­fy­ing bioac­tive com­pounds in com­plex sam­ples such as plant extracts.”

They sep­a­rate the com­pounds by tak­ing advan­tage of the fact that each is absorbed at dif­fer­ent speeds. (You’ll need to read the arti­cle for the deets.) That lets them con­duct a fast bioas­say of all the com­pounds in a plant to see what’s worth study­ing in detail.

For exam­ple:

Rosemary and oregano extracts showed the great­est antiox­i­dant activ­i­ty, while sage, oregano and thyme were the best at slow­ing down reac­tions involv­ing α‑amylase (extracts from laven­der flow­ers and leaves were the only ones not to show this effect).

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