Theofylline

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The molecule of this week is theofylline, a methylxanthine that can be naturally found in cocoa beans. This molecule has a very similar chemical structure to other xanthines like caffeine or theobromine. However, it has pharmacological applications as it is used to treat asthma and other respiratory diseases.
Read more about theofylline here!

Strychnine

This week molecule is strychnine, the famous poison that killed Alexander the Great in 323 BC. This molecule, in fact, is toxic by inhalation and ingestion. The symptoms of poisoning appear 10-20 minutes after exposure and death follows in roughly 2 hours.

Want to know more about how this molecule works and why it is so toxic? More info in this review.

So small but so smelly….

This week molecule is butyric acid, a simple molecule that can be found in milk, butter and cheese. Although it can be found in food, this molecule has a characteristic, pungent, acidic smell that (believe me) can easily diffuse.

A small molecular change, however, changes completely the odour of this molecule! The esters of butyric acid, in fact, such as ethyl butyrate have a very pleasant fruity fragrance and are employed in artificial flavouring.

Read more about butyric acid here and find out more about the nice smell of its esters here!

Aloin: properties of aloe you won’t expect

unknownThis week’s molecule is aloin, a yellow bitter exudate that can be extracted from aloe. Aloe is used to treat skin problems as it has moisturising and emollient effects.

Although aloin comes from this plant, it has been used as a laxative and, when dried, as a bittering agent for alcohol based drinks.

2Read more about this interesting molecule and the other active components of aloe in this link!

Oleuropein and its properties

oleuropeinThe molecule of this week is quite complex but full of interesting properties! Its name is oleuropein, as it is a component of olive oil and olive leafs.

 

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This phenol has cardioprotective and neuroprotective properties that seem to be related to the good health and diet of mediterranean people.

Find out everything about this molecule here!

Not tasty enough? Add some capsaicin!

This week’s molecule is capsaicin, a neuropeptide that can be found in hot chilli peppers as an active component.

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If you ever wondered why peppers can be so spicy, capsaicin is the reason! However this molecule has also analgesic properties and can be used topically to control peripheral nerve pain.

Find out more about this interesting molecule here!

It smells like….putrescine!

putrescineThis week molecule will be putrescine, a biogenic amine related, together with cadaverine, to the bad smell of putrefying flesh.unknown

The presence of this molecule in food is due to bacterial metabolism and it is potentially carcinogenic.

Would you have ever said that such a small molecule could be so dangerous?

Want to read more about this? Have a look at this article: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1541-4337.12099/abstract