What is in therapeutically prescribed herbal medicines? Phytochemical characterisation of steroidal saponins from two popular nutraceuticals, False Unicorn and Tribulus terrestris. (2004–2007)
Plants containing steroidal saponins have long been used as therapeutic products, but their active constituents remain poorly characterized. This project aims to identify and structurally characterize steroidal saponins from False Unicorn and Tribulus terrestris, two popular nutraceuticals which are currently marketed in Australia. Existing knowledge of these saponin constituents is surprisingly incomplete and inaccurate. Full structural elucidation will enable the development of 'standardised' herbal saponin profiles for better control of product quality and will allow alternatives for the herbs to be chosen, which cannot be undertaken until this composition is known. A phytochemical survey of Australian Tribulus terrestris will determine whether this native sub-species is suitable for commercial harvest.