are antimicrobial allelochemic volatile organic compounds
derived from plants
. The word, which means "exterminated by the plant", was coined in 1937
by Dr. Boris P. Tokin, a Russian
biochemist from Leningrad University
. He found that some plants give off very active substances which prevent them from rotting or being eaten by some insects and animals. Various spices
trees, and many other plants give off phytoncides. Oak contains a substance called greenery alcohol
; garlic contains allicin
and diallyl disulfide
; and pine contains alpha-pinene
and other terpenes
. More than 5000 volatile substances defend the surrounding plants from bacteria
. Phytoncides work by preventing the growth of the attacking organism.
They are widely used in Russian, Ukrainian, Chinese and Japanese medicine, including holistic medicine, aromatherapy, and veterinary medicine.
In Taiwan, South Korea and Japan, people commonly engage in so-called forest bathing to breathe in phytoncides emitted by plant and trees, in order to improve their health.
- J. Jung Antibakterielle und antifungale Hemmstoffe in höheren Pflanzen
Literaturübersicht - in Journal Forstwissenschaftliches Centralblatt
Publisher Springer Berlin / Heidelberg ISSN 0015-8003 (Print)
Issue Volume 83, Numbers 11-12 / November, 1964 Pages 358-374
- Tambiev AKh, Agaverdiev ASh. The ability of volatile fractions of certain phytoncide-forming compounds to increase the chemiluminescence of oleic acid
Biofizika. 1966;11(1):175-7. (in Russian)
- MULLER-DIETZ H. Phytoncides and phytoncide therapy - Dtsch Med Wochenschr. 1956 Jun 15;81(24):983-4. (Article in German)
- The phytoncide activity of several varieties of garlic stored for different periods of time Vopr Pitan. 1974 Nov-Dec;(6):61-2. (in Russian)