Medicinal plants and their secondary metabolites − State of the art and trends in breeding, analytics and use in feed supplementation− with special focus on German chamomile
Plants in ecology interact with their biotic and abiotic environment. Means of interactions, and thereby crucial for the survival of the species, are secondary plant metabolites. Exploration of the plants’ metabolism in action and reaction to their environment, the formation and release of secondary plant metabolites in specific (stress) situations and their functions as attractants, defence or protection agents gives us the chance to exploit the knowledge for human purposes. The purpose of medicinal use of these metabolites turns the bearing plants into medicinal plants. Health promoting, disease preventing and other favourable effects make these plants and their extracts valuable as dietary and feed additives. This review covers some current aspects of conventional breeding, particularly of German chamomile, of phytochemical analytics and of use of medicinal plants in feed supplementation. The main three groups of functional plant metabolites terpenes, polyphenols and alkaloids are treated. Outlook in research, in challenging analytical questions and in effective product development is provided, outlining current trends in production of secondary plant metabolites and demands on the market.
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