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Welcome to PhytoChem

A blog about plant natural product chemistry by Monica Scognamiglio

Resveratrol: from plants to human health

Grape harvest season is almost over in Italy. Let’s have a look at a popular compound from grapes and wine: resveratrol, a chemical with many biological activities. This phenolic compound is a stilbenoid present in grapes and several berries (blueberries, raspberries, mulberries, etc.), but also in peanuts. It is found in white, rosé and red…

Do you think that natural equals safe? Well, think again!

There is a growing trend to use “natural” products in several fields e.g., natural cosmetics, natural home and personal care products, natural supplements, etc. Well, there might be many reasons for the success of these kind of products and some of them might be good, but there is a thing that always puzzles and, to…

Theobromine, a chemical from the «food of the gods»

Enjoyed your Easter chocolate? Well, if like me you are still working on it (😉), please sit down and appreciate a piece of this heavenly food while reading about theobromine. This compound is the main alkaloid of Theobroma cacao (cacao tree) and it is therefore found in chocolate, especially in the dark one [1], whereas…

Natural vs Chemical

After a long break, PhytoChem is back and needs your help! Before working on my next post, I want to hear your opinion about the topic “Natural vs Chemical”. Here (clicking on the figure below), you’ll find a poll that will be open till next sunday, please answer and share! Italian version here:

O Tannenbaum

The decoration of Christmas trees is a tradition started in Germany during the Renaissance. However, its roots go far back in time; evergreen plants had a special meaning in many cultures long before the advent of Christianity. Nowadays, decorating a tree with garlands, baubles, tinsel, candy canes, blinking lights (or candles), etc. is a worldwide…

It’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas

Smells and aromas are profoundly evocative. Those related to Christmas are often connected to our childhood, able to bring us back (at least with the memory) to that awesome time of our lives. This year, we need more than ever this powerful tool to escape at least for a little bit the harsh present reality.What…

The king of the Mediterranean region

Autumn in the South of Italy means a lot of nice things: a still relatively warm weather, the bright warm colours of leaves of deciduous plants slowly turning into a colourful carpet, the smell of roasted chestnuts in the streets, etc. This time of the year is also linked to a very important economic activity:…

Solanine, the toxic compound in potatoes

Memories of a summer evening (yeah, I still cannot get over the idea that summer is gone), preparing dinner. A question about solanine in tomatoes comes up. A long discussion about solanine, tomatine and other glycoalkaloids produced by Solanaceae plants starts.It seems a nerdy conversation, and maybe it is, but it is actually also a…

Something against autumn blues…

Summer is almost over in Italy, but before moving on to the next season, I would like to talk about a plant that is somehow strongly connected to summer: Saint John’s Wort. Plants are wonderful organisms and some of their features make them look like magical beings to humans. If we have a look at…

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