Should we be concerned? Plants contain a large number of biologically active metabolites. Some of these have been found to be extremely useful for treating various human and animal diseases.
However, some plant constituents produce adverse human and animal health effects following exposure. These so-called plant toxins occur abundantly in, for example, aromatic plants used as food ingredients, scents and flavours, and traditional herbal medicines.
No homogenous group
Plant toxins do not form one single homogenous group. There are a number of broad categories of plant toxins, including alkaloids, amino acids, peptides and proteins, glycosides, acids, terpenes, phenolics and tannins, and essential oils. Within each broad category, there is a tremendous chemical heterogeneity.