Alkaloids are a class of naturally-occurring organic compounds that contain at least one nitrogen atom.
They are primarily found in plants, but can also be found in certain types of fungi and bacteria. In plants they appear to
play a variety of roles, including deterring herbivores and inhibiting the growth of competing plants.
Structurally, alkaloids are quite diverse. They typically have complex, ring-shaped structures, but can vary greatly in
size and shape. The chemical behavior of alkaloids is largely determined by the structure of the molecule, which includes one or more nitrogen atoms.
Alkaloids are well known for their physiological effects on humans and other animals. Many alkaloids have
pharmacological effects and are used medicinally. For instance, they can act as stimulants, narcotics, or poisons.
Some alkaloids are also used recreationally because of their psychoactive effects.