From sunscreens to medicines: Can a dissipation hypothesis explain the beneficial aspects of many plant compounds?
Phytother Res. 2020 Mar 12;:
Authors: Nunn AVW, Guy GW, Botchway SW, Bell JD
Medicine has utilised plant-based treatments for millennia, but precisely how they work is unclear. One approach is to use a thermodynamic viewpoint that life arose by dissipating geothermal and/or solar potential. Hence, the ability to dissipate energy to maintain homeostasis is a fundamental principle in all life, which can be viewed as an accretion system where layers of complexity have built upon core abiotic molecules. Many of these compounds are chromophoric and are now involved in multiple pathways. Plants have further evolved a plethora of chromophoric compounds that can not only act as sunscreens and redox modifiers, but also have now become integrated into a generalised stress adaptive system. This could be an extension of the dissipative process. In animals, many of these compounds are hormetic, modulating mitochondria and calcium signalling. They can also display anti-pathogen effects. They could therefore modulate bioenergetics across all life due to the conserved electron transport chain and proton gradient. In this review paper, we focus on well-described medicinal compounds, such as salicylic acid and cannabidiol and suggest, at least in animals, their activity reflects their evolved function in plants in relation to stress adaptation, which itself evolved to maintain dissipative homeostasis.
PMID: 32166791 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]