Plants are considered treasure house of bioactive compounds (phytochemicals) that can be used as a
drug for curing human diseases. According to WHO about 80% of the population in the developed
countries use traditional medicines for curing various ailments, which do not have any side effects.
The word phytochemicals is derived from the Greek word phyto-meaning plants are naturally
occurring chemical compounds that are biologically active. They protect the plant as well as human
when consumed in diet. These phytochemicals give the plant its characteristic aroma, color and
flavor. Till date, more than 40,000 phytochemicals have been catalogued and a detailed study of
about 150 of them have been carried out. These phytochemicals accumulate in the leaves, flowers,
fruits, seeds, stem, roots, barks etc., Phytochemicals are classified as primary and secondary
metabolites based on their role in the plant metabolism. Amino acids sugars, proteins, purines,
pyrimidines and chlorophyll are primary metabolites whereas alkaloids, flavonoids, phenolic
compounds, saponins, terpenes, plant steroids andglycosides are secondary metabolites. These
secondary compounds have an array of biological properties such as antimicrobial, antioxidant,
antitumor and many more pharmacological activities. Interest in phytochemicals are increasing as
they are safer for human consumption as well as the environment. This chapter deals with qualitative
and quantitative analysis of phytochemicals.
Dr. J. Anbumalarmathi Department of Biotechnology, Stella Maris College (Autonomous), Chennai-600086, India.
Dr. S. Aruna Sharmili Department of Biotechnology, Stella Maris College (Autonomous), Chennai-600086, India.