Pharmacognosy—A Brief History

‘Pharmacognosy’—has been coined by the merger of two Greek words Pharmakon (drug) and Gnosis (knowledge) i.e., the knowledge of drugs. The nomenclature—‘Pharmacognosy’ was used first and foremost by C.A. Seydler, a medical student in Halle/Saale, Germany, who emphatically employed Analetica Pharmacognostica as the main title of his thesis in the year 1815. Besides, further investigations have revealed that. Schmidt has made use of the terminology ‘Pharmacognosis’ in the monograph entitled Lehrbuch der Materia Medica (i.e., Lecture Notes on Medical Matter) which dates back to 1811, in Vienna. This compilation exclusively deals with the medicinal plants and their corresponding characteristics.

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Ethnopharmacology of Medicinal Plants Asia and the Pacific

In 1860, Oliver Wendell Holmes pointedly expressed himself to the Massachusetts Medical Society: “I firmly believe that if the whole Material Medica, as now used, could be sunk to the bottom of the sea, it would be all the better for mankind, and all the worst for the fishes.” Should one think the same about the current approach in drug discovery from plants? Probably yes. Despite the spending of billions of US dollars, and three decades of efforts, high-throughput screenings have only allowed the discovery of a couple of drugs.

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A Treatise On Phytochemistry

Medicinal plants are significant source of synthetic and herbal drugs. Medicinal plants have been used for the treatment of diseases since antiquity. India and China have been on the forefront when we talk about history of herbal drugs. The traditional systems of medicines viz. Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani, Western Herbal Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Homeopathy have roots in medicinal herbs. Herbal medicine has produced number of distinguished researchers and due to its accessibility to traditions it is still practiced even by lay practitioners.

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Modern Phytomedicine:Turning Medicinal Plants into Drugs

Medicinal preparations derived from natural sources, especially from plants, have been in widespread use since time immemorial. Ancient texts of India and China contain exhaustive depictions of the use of a variety of plant-derived medications. In fact, plants remain the main source of medicines for a large proportion of the world’s population, particularly in the developing world, despite the advent of the pharmaceutical chemistry during the early twentieth century, which brought with it the ability to synthesize an enormous variety of medicinal drug molecules and allowed the treatment of previously incurable and/or life-threatening diseases.

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Medicinal Natural Products A Biosynthetic Approach

This book has been written primarily for pharmacy undergraduates to provide a modern text to complement lecture courses dealing with pharmacognosy and the use of natural products in medicine. Nevertheless, it should be of value in most other courses where the study of natural products is included, although the examples chosen are predominantly those possessing pharmacological activity.

For centuries, drugs were entirely of natural origin and composed of herbs, animal products, and inorganic materials. Early remedies may have combined these ingredients with witchcraft, mysticism, astrology, or religion, but it is certain that those treatments that were effective were subsequently recorded and documented, leading to the early Herbals. (more…)

BIOASSAY TECHNIQUES FOR DRUG DEVELOPMENT

The so-called “green wave”, triggered by a growing ecological awareness, has resulted in an increased interest in herbal formulations throughout the world, particularly in the last decade. The consumption of medicinal plants has almost doubled in the West during that period. The efficacy of a number of herbal formulations has been tested by valid phytopharmaceutical techniques and the number of plant-based drugs or health foods has increased steadily to meet the growing demand. Over the years a new relationship between phytochemists and pharmacologists has accordingly developed which, in many cases, has proved to be very productive.

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Tyler’s Herbs of Choice The Therapeutic Use of Phytomedicinals

Since publication in 1999 of the first revision of Herbs of Choice, a plethora of publications has extended both the range and depth of herbal medicinal science. Notable has been the introduction to the West of a number of herbs long popular in Eastern traditional medicine systems. Prominent among these have been Andrographis paniculata, Petasites hybridus (butterbur), Centella asiatica (gotu kola), Bacopa monnieri, and Citrus aurantium (bitter orange) as an ephedra substitute.

There has also been an explosion of concern and scientific investigation into the potential for herb–drug interaction influencing clinical outcomes— from grapefruit (Citrus x paradisi) to St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum). Examination of bleeding and coagulation associated with herbs has been expanded. Recent research has also clarified certain aspects of the mechanisms of action of a number of popular herbs, such as feverfew, ginkgo, and ginseng. Particularly, a wholesale revision of the feverfew treatment has been effected. Phytochemical treatment of liver disease and the activity of phytoestrogens have been more widely explored.

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