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Introduction of Pharmacognosy

By: Pharma Tips | Views: 7137 | Date: 03-Oct-2011

Pharmacognosy is the study of medicines derived from natural sources. The American Society of Pharmacognosy defines pharmacognosy as "the study of the physical, chemical, biochemical and biological properties of drugs, drug substances or potential drugs or drug substances of natural origin as well as the search for new drugs from natural sources."

Pharmacognosy is the study of medicines derived from natural sources. The American Society of Pharmacognosy defines pharmacognosy as "the study of the physical, chemical, biochemical and biological properties of drugs, drug substances or potential drugs or drug substances of natural origin as well as the search for new drugs from natural sources."

Introduction

The word "pharmacognosy" is derived from the Greek words φάρμακον pharmakon (drug), and γνῶσις gnosis or "knowledge". The term pharmacognosy was used for the first time by the Austrian physician Schmidt in 1811 and 1815 by Crr. Anotheus Seydler in a work titled Analecta Pharmacognostica..

Originally—during the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century—"pharmacognosy" was used to define the branch of medicine or commodity sciences (Warenkunde in German) which deals with drugs in their crude, or unprepared, form. Crude drugs are the dried, unprepared material of plant, animal or mineral origin, used for medicine. The study of these materials under the name pharmakognosie was first developed in German-speaking areas of Europe, while other language areas often used the older term materia medica taken from the works of Galen and Dioscorides. In German the term drogenkunde ("science of crude drugs") is also used synonymously.

As late as the beginning of the 20th century, the subject had developed mainly on the botanical side, being particularly concerned with the description and identification of drugs both in their whole state and in powder form. Such branches of pharmacognosy are still of fundamental importance, particularly for pharmacopoeial identification and quality control purposes, but rapid development in other areas has enormously expanded the subject.

Although most pharmacognostic studies focus on plants and medicines derived from plants, other types of organisms are also regarded as pharmacognostically interesting, in particular, various types of microbes (bacteria, fungi, etc.), and, recently, various marine organisms.

According to quackwatch pharmacognosy is "the science of medicines from natural sources".[2] Other definitions are more encompassing, drawing on a broad spectrum of biological subjects, including botany, ethnobotany, medical anthropology, marine biology, microbiology, herbal medicine, chemistry, biotechnology, phytochemistry, pharmacology, pharmaceutics, clinical pharmacy and pharmacy practice.

The contemporary study of pharmacognosy can be divided into the fields of

    medical ethnobotany: the study of the traditional use of plants for medicinal purposes;
    ethnopharmacology: the study of the pharmacological qualities of traditional medicinal substances;
    the study of phytotherapy (the medicinal use of plant extracts); and
    phytochemistry, the study of chemicals derived from plants (including the identification of new drug candidates derived from plant 
    sources).
    zoopharmacognosy, the process by which animals self-medicate, by selecting and using plants, soils, and insects to treat and prevent
    disease.
    marine pharmacognosy, the study of chemicals derived from marine organisms.

At the 9th congress of Italian society of pharmacognosy it was stated that current return of phyto-therapy was clearly reflected by the increased market of such products. In 1998 the latest figures available for Europe, the total OTC market for herbal medicinal products reached a figure of $6 billion, with consumption for Germany of $2.5 billion, France $1.6 billion and Italy $600 million. In the US, where the use of herbal products has never been as prevalent as in continental Europe, the market for all herb sales reached a peak in 1998 of $700 billion. This welcomed the scientific investigation of a rigorous nature.

The plant kingdom still holds many species of plants containing substances of medicinal value which have yet to be discovered. Large numbers of plants are constantly being screened for their possible pharmacological value.

Pharmacognosy is the study of drugs of natural origin.

The term comes from two Greek words: "pharmakon" meaning drug or medicine, and "gnosis" meaning knowledge. The American Society of Pharmacognosy defines pharmacognosy as "the study of the physical, chemical, biochemical and biological properties of drugs, drug substances or potential drugs or drug substances of natural origin as well as the search for new drugs from natural sources".

Plant preparations are said to be medicinal or herbal when they are used to promote health beyond basic nutrition.

The study of drugs from plants includes the subjects of botany, chemistry and pharmacology.

Botany includes the identification (taxonomy), genetics, and cultivation of plants.

Chemical characterization of includes the isolation, identification and quantification of constituents in plant materials.

Pharmacology is the study of the biological effects that the chemicals in medicinal plants have on cell cultures, animals and humans.

The renaissance of herbal medicine in this country creates a demand for studies in the field of pharmacognosy. From a practical perspective this includes:
  • quality control (identity, purity, consistency)
  • efficacy (therapeutic indications, clinical studies, pharmacological investigations)
  • safety (adverse reactions, drug interactions, contraindications, precautions)

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