In general, the bitterprinciples are heterogenous vegetative compounds that neither belong to the class of alkaloids nor to the glycosides, but they do possess a characteristic bitter taste.
It is, however, pertinent to observe that bitter principles are invariably of vegetative origin and essentially comprise of C, H, and O, but are found to be free from N.
Interestingly, at one point in time the bitter principles were frequently and extensively utilized in liquid medicaments to augment and stimulate appetite. It has been established that the bitter constituent particularly stimulate the salivary glands (gustatory-nerves) present in the mouth and cause an enhancement in the psychic secretion of the gastric juice in the stomach. Since the past several decades the extract of the following drugs have been employed both extensively and intensively in various herbal systems of medicine, namely: calumba, cinchona (or quinine) gentian, quassia, nux-vomica, etc.
The ‘bitter principles’ are mostly found in a number of plants, and are observed to be present abundantly in certain families, such as: Compositae Labiatae, and Gentiananceae.
Over the years, considerable research has accelerated the investigation of a number of these bitter compounds possibly for other meaningful applications, for instance: the bitters (i.e., bitter principles) of the Simaroubaceae as antitumour and antimalarial agents.
Source:Pharmacognosy And Pharmacobiotechnology By Ashutosh Kar

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