The study of carbon compounds is considered as organic chemistry.
So any substance which has an element “Carbon” in it is studied in the subject of organic chemistry.
This is because the subject is so wide, complex and also of great use in daily life.
The importance of organic chemistry has been lately recognized due to its comparison with normal chemistry.
As the definition says, it deals with carbon compounds ranging from solids like graphite, solvents and even gases.
And if you have knowledge of chemistry, it is easy to know that there will be very few compounds around us which do not have carbon in. Like table salt (NaCl), metals, glass, tiles, and and and…….?? no more..
So one can see that most substances in our everyday life are organic compounds. Some examples include, edibles like milk, bread, sugar or are made of organic materials. Also clothes, shoes, belts, computers, tires, medicines etc. come under this category.
You may check also more examples of organic compounds.
This vast list of substance we use daily indicates the importance of organic chemistry. So it is considered as separate branch for study in chemistry.
Importance of organic chemistry are as
1. Medicine: Medicine is the prime store of organic compounds. Though not all but many medicines are made of organic substances. Like antibiotics, anticancer drugs, painkillers, anti-depressant, anesthetics etc.
But organic chemistry can be studied in three parts in medicine as.
a) Drugs to cure disease: As said before many drugs used for treatment of diseases are made of organic compounds. Hence they are water insoluble, bitter in taste and also easily movable in the body tissues.
Further drug delivery an option to deliver the drug to deeper body location needs enhancement of lipid solubility and minimize water solubility. Then change in organic ration i.e. the amount of carbon content will give the desired effect. Hence the organic chemistry, studies the chemistry of the drug and tries to enhance their efficiency, reach-ability to the target organs and also ensure safe metabolism to eliminate from the body (to remove toxicity).
Further organic compounds though having same chemical structure still have varying effect in the body due to stereo isomerism. The Cis and Trans isomers play a vital role. If one can notice anit-parkinson medicine L-DOPA or the antibiotic Levofloxacin, you can find both having L-configuration (-). They are levo isomers of the same substance but levo form are more effective than the dextro forms (+).
As a matter of convenience, the whole thing is studied as medicinal chemistry for the purpose.
b) Pathophysiology of the diseases: The study of disease is well supported by organic chemistry. Most diseases in humans have some course or pathway before complete death ensues.
Ex: In gout there is disturbance in the purine metabolism, urinc acid formed does not break into Urea and gets accumulated. This causes gout. This can be studies by checking the levels of uric acid with that of normal condition.
Similarly in infections there is damage to some biochemical components in the body. For example in malaria. The parasites damages the hemoglobin content of the blood. In that case the hemoglobin levels go down. This can be recognized by the organic functional groups change in the normal and diseased condition.
Thus change in the organic components helps us to study the course and severity of the disease.
c) To diagnose the disease: Here organic chemistry uses some diagnosing aids to detect the organic part of the deficiency or disturbed substance. In diabetics, there is increased sugar levels and in severe cases even the ketone levels. Sugars have aldehyde groups (CHO) and ketones (C=O) groups. These groups are the targets in analysis. The more these groups during estimation, the more is the sugar levels and vice-verse. So organic chemistry in diagnosis aims to check for the organic functional group levels as a parameter of the disturbed substance in the body.
In heart patients, the cholesterol levels from blood are estimated using study of ester and carboxylic acid groups.
2. Food: Food materials are solely made of carbon compounds viz. carbohydrates (CHO), proteins (NH2-CH-COOH), and fats (CH-COO-CH). Even vitamins are organic in nature. Study of the requirement of body for various purposes like pregnancy, disease condition, body fitness etc. experts advice use of vitamins (FOLIC acid in pregnancy), fat (minimize in heart diseases) and (protein rich diet for body building).
Among beverages alcohol is an organic substance.
3. Cleansing agents: In industries and labs, organic solvents are widely used to clear of impurities. For example in drug extraction from plants, the fatty matter from the pulp is removed using petroleum ether. Thus organic chemistry through its knowledge of polarity, solubility, partition factors uses solvents to separate components for better use.
4 Sterilizing agents: Most of the sterilizing agents and disinfectants like phenol, formaldehyde etc are carbon compounds. Due to their properties like solubility, pH they can kill microbes and even human body cells.
These kill the bacteria and other microbes due to either dissolving the microbe cell wall or damaging the protein layer etc. Their efficiency is enhanced by making small tweaks in the chemistry.
Besides these solvents there are gases like ethylene oxide which are used for sterilization of drugs and manufactured substances.
5. Analytic substances: Most substances we use like drugs, pesticides etc, are analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively using different types of titrations, chromatography techniques, and spectrophotometry. Here the reagent use like acids or bases or oxidative reductive species are organic in nature. Further the end point indicator in titration are developed by organic chemistry.
Check out→ Importance of analytical chemistry.
6. Valuables: Diamonds, graphite, petroleum. Interestingly the carbon compounds are found to be highly valuable, durable and hardest in the world.
Diamond and graphite are both pure carbon alone compound without any other elements inside. They are both highly used and expensive. Their properties are studies in organic chemistry. Petroleum is the other most valued resources on the earth for fuels needs in the world. These petroleum products are further diversified for various uses. And petroleum is one of the factors which influence the world economy.
Applications of organic chemistry:
Organic chemistry finds its application to a large extent in the field of medicine, pesticides, petroleum sector, textile etc.
1. For analysis: Not all organic substances are soluble in water. So they can be analyses by non-aqueous titration. For this they use organic solvents like pyridine, methanol, acetone etc.
Further other methods like chromatography, spectroscopy (infra red spectroscopy) also employ organic solvents for analysis. This analysis helps to test the given compound for its purity, quantity etc.
2. For synthesis: Organic chemistry helps us synthesis many compounds which are needed on a large scale. For example we find a drug molecule in nature by chance or as bi-product of some reaction. Then that drug molecule can be synthesized by knowledge of organic chemistry for large scale use.
So we see many drug manufacturing companies fighting for patents to manufacture the same drug in their own method. The same molecule can be made by using different steps of reaction. But pharma companies try to make it by an organic reaction which is inexpensive for better profits. For more details refer to the standard text books on organic chemistry.
3. For better molecules: If a molecule is already been used for a long time. It can be replaced by similar molecule with slight change in its chemistry. This change is aimed at more effective performance. This is possible by substituting some organic functional groups.
Thus organic chemistry plays an immense role is human life.