Plants for Health and Personal Care

Health Uses

Plants have a long history of use in the medical sector.

  • Plants are the source of ~25% of all registered pharmaceuticals and are also used in a less refined form in a variety of traditional medicine therapies. 
  • Chinese medicine uses a wide-range of plant-derived extracts to treat a range of disease symptoms.
  • A long history of botanical knowledge and extraction procedures provides a large knowledge-base on which this traditional medicine has been founded.


Personal Care Uses

Plants are also a source of bioactive compounds, which are used in the cosmeceuticals and personal-care industry. Plant bioactive compounds have a range of applications, from functional-food ingredients (carotenoids, fatty acids, phenolics, plant sterols, etc...) and nutraceuticals (DHA, EPA, ALA) to bioactive compounds with specific functionalities, such as anti-ageing.



Bioactive Compounds are the naturally occurring chemical compounds contained in, or derived from, a plant, animal or marine source, that exert the desired health/wellness benefit (e.g. omega-3 fatty acids in flax or fish oils and beta-glucans from oats and barley).

Cosmeceuticals represent the marriage of cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Examples of products typically labelled as cosmeceuticals include anti-aging creams and moisturizers. Cosmeceuticals are cosmetic products with biologically active ingredients that have or is claimed to have medical or drug-like benefits.

A functional food is similar in appearance to, or may be, a conventional food that is consumed as part of a usual diet, and is demonstrated to have physiological benefits and/or reduce the risk of chronic disease beyond basic nutritional functions, i.e. they contain bioactive compound. Read more...

A nutraceutical is a product isolated or purified from foods that is generally sold in medicinal forms not usually associated with foods. A nutraceutical is demonstrated to have a physiological benefit or provide protection against chronic disease. Read more...

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KTN's Plant Sector Publications

KTN's Plant Sector has developed a series of publications to highlight the economic benefit of research and development to the agriculture and food industry. 


New forage varieties for the sustainable intensification of the livestock agriculture

April 2011


Analysis of the economic impact of plants breeding in the UK

April 2011


Analysis of the impact of crop protection chemistry on agricultural production

May 2011


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