Family Myristicaceae R Brown 1810 nom conserv the Nutmeg Family

Physical description: The family Myristicaceae consists of about 16 genera and 380 species of lowland rainforest trees. In this family, isoquinolines and acetogenins weapons are replaced by phenylacylphenols, serotonine-like indole alkaloids and lignans. Myristicaceae are quite easily recognized in the fields as they have a straight trunk which exudes a very characteristic bloodlike sap, few leaves (hence a Christmas tree look) and nutmeg-like fruits. The leaves are simple, without stipules and alternate, often dark green and leathery. The flowers are tiny, male or female, and on different trees. The perianth is tiny, cup-shaped and 3-lobed. The stamens are united in a column, and the ovary is 1-celled and contains 1 ovule. The fruits are yellowish-red, ovoid, drupes, the seed of which is embedded in an aril, the divisions of which are of taxonomic importance.

Pharmaceutical interest: The family Myristicaceae is interesting because it produces indole alkaloids which bind to serotonine receptors and hence have some potential for the treatment of anxiety, mood disorders and other psychological disturbances. Such alkaloids are N,N-dimethyl tryptamine, 5-methoxy-W,W-dimethyl tryptamine, 2-methyl-1,2,3,4-tetrahydro-^-carboline which have been characterized from Virola sebifera which is used by South American shamans to cause hallucination (Fig. 14). Other interesting compounds are possible cytotoxic, antinematodal and antibacterial phenylacylphenols known as iryantherins which are very specific to the genus Iryanthera. A classical example of Myristicaceae is Myristica fragrans Houtt., the dried seeds of which: nutmeg are flavorful, narcotic and carminative. Excessive ingestion of nutmeg causes tachycardia, early constriction of the pupils, and a divorce from surroundings, delirium, semis-tupor and an "unpleasant and frightening" experience". The

Noradrenaline

Myristicin

Noradrenaline

Myristicin

Iryantherin A

5-Hydroxy-N, N-dimethyl tryptamine Serotonine

Fig. 16. Examples of neuroactive natural products characterized from the family Myristicaceae. Similitude of chemical structure with noradrenaline and serotonine.

Iryantherin A

5-Hydroxy-N, N-dimethyl tryptamine Serotonine

Fig. 16. Examples of neuroactive natural products characterized from the family Myristicaceae. Similitude of chemical structure with noradrenaline and serotonine.

neuroactive principles involved are phenylpropanoids: myristicin and elemicin, the chemical structures of which are similar to the chemical structure of noradrenaline (Fig. 16). In the Asia-Pacific, about 20 species of plants classified within the family Myristicaceae are used for medicinal purposes, mostly for gastrointestinal disturbances.

Continue reading here: Horsfieldia irya Gaertn Warb

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