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What are Natural Products?

The information you are going to get from this Article are:
1. What are Natural Products?
2. Differences between Primary and Secondary Metabolites.
3. Differences between Synthetic and Natural Products.
4. How to extract Natural Products from Plants?
5. Different Natural Products obtained from Plants.
6. Natural Products derived from Animals.
7. Nature Products made by Microorganisms.

Natural Products

Natural Products are compounds or substances that can be obtained from Natural Sources. The Natural sources include animals, plants, and microorganisms. Natural products are also known as secondary metabolites. The study of natural products is called “Pharmacognosy”. The research on the natural product is called “Bioprospecting”. Natural Products are used to produce many drugs, medicines, building materials, dyes, etc. For example, The drug morphine is a pain reliever that is produced by the poppy plant. The major sources of natural products are plants. This is because they produce a wide variety of compounds. In plants, products are extracted from the plant tissues.

Difference between Primary & Secondary Metabolites:

Metabolites are the intermediates or end products of metabolism (The chemical reaction in the body that converts food into energy). They may be micro or macromolecules. The metabolites are divided into primary and secondary metabolites.

1. Primary Metabolites

Primary metabolites are essential because they play a vital role in metabolic reactions such as growth, reproduction, development, etc. For example, Amino Acids, Vitamins, Nucleic Acids, etc.

2. Secondary Metabolites

Secondary metabolites are non-essential metabolites and area side products. They are indirectly involved in the metabolic reaction and play a role in the functions like defense, medicinal use, flavoring, etc. For example, phenolics, antibiotics, pigments, scents, etc.

Difference between Synthetic & Natural Products

Synthetic products are man-made and prepared in laboratories with the help of artificial methods. For example, synthetic fingers, synthetic begs, synthetic rubbers, artificial sweeteners, etc.
Natural Products are not man-made and are produced naturally by animals and plants. For example, wool, silk, milk, coal, etc.

The Strategy for extracting Natural Products from Plants

First of all, you extract the leaves from the plant and let them dry. After that take a solvent to dissolve the solute (substance dissolve in another substance) and make a solution. For this left the mixture of solute and solvent for more than 12 hours, hence your natural product gets extracted. Now for the separation of a dried leaf from solvent pass the solution from the filtration process. Take a filter paper and a funnel pour the solution into it. You will see that solute will remain on the paper and solvent will pass into the funnel. After that, for the separation of solvent and natural products, we need to evaporate the solvent, which can be done by putting the solvent under sunlight. After evaporation, we will be left behind with the mixture of different natural products. Different natural products can easily be separated by the process of chromatography which consists of a stationary and mobile phase. The mobile phase consists of different solvents and the stationary phase is covered with special material through which natural products will pass at different rates and then we get different natural products separated from each other.

Natural Products derived from Plants


It is a proteolytic enzyme isolated from the latex of papaya. It is used to inject directly into the slipped disk in the spine to dissolve the part of the disk and alleviate the pain that occurs due to pressing of the disk on tha nerve. Side effects are changes in facial skin color, constipation, headache, irregular breathing, etc.


It is a stimulant drug obtained from the leaves of two coca species, Erythroxylum coca, and Erythroxylum novogranatense. It is used as a recreational drug. It is used as an anesthetic in the operation of the nose, ear, and throat. Side effects of cocaine are chest pain, bloody nose, insomnia, restlessness, dilated pupils, etc.

Natural Products derived from Animals

1. Antivenin Polyvalent

It is an antitoxin that is made from the blood of animals such as horses and sheep. It is anti-venom and used to treat and cancel out the effects of snake bites. Side effects of antivenin polyvalent are itching, swollen glands, fever, etc.

2. Leather

Many animals are killed to get the leather from their skin. After that, the skin is preserved with the help of a process called ” Tanning”. This process changes the protein structure of the skin and protects the skin from decomposing. Leather is obtained from lizards, horses, zebras, sheep, etc.

Leather is used to make clothes, gloves, purses, handbags, etc.

Natural Products derived from Microorganisms

1. Penicillin

It is an antibiotic obtained from a fungus called “penicillium mold”. Penicillin is an antibacterial drug that fights bacterial infections. It is used to treat the diseases like Pneumonia, Meningitis, Gonorrhea, etc. The side effects of penicillin are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, etc.

2. Griseofulvin

It is an antifungal antibiotic that is obtained from “mold Penicillium griseofulvum”. It is used to treat fungal infections of the skin, scalp, thighs, etc. side effects of this antibiotic are diarrhea, vomiting, rash, yeast infection in the mouth, etc.

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