Plant in medicine: the origins of pharmacognosy

The general role of plants in the usage of disease is exemplified by their avocation in all the major systems of remedial agent irrespective of the underlying philosophical ground. As examples, we have Western remedy with origins in Mesopotamia and Egypt, the Unani (Islamic) and Ayurvedic (Hindu) systems centred in westerly Asia and the Indian subcontinent and those of the Orient (China, Japan, Tibet, etc.). How and when such medicinal plants were first used is, in numerous company cases, lost in pre-history, indeed animals, other than subject, appear to have their own materia medica.  Following the nuncupative transmission of medical information came the employment of writing (e.g. the Egyptian Papyrus Ebers c.1600 nc), baked earthly substance tablets (some 660 cuneiform tablets c. 650 ec from Ashurbanipal’s library at Nineveh, it being so that in the British Museum, refer to drugs well-known today), parchments and copy herbals, printed herbals (invention of printing l44O AD), pharmacopoeias and other works of allusion (first London Pharmacopoeia, 1618; first British Pharmacopoeia 1864), and greatest part recently electronic storage of data. Similar records last for Chinese medicinal plants (texts from the 4th hundred years BC), Ayurvedic medicine (Ayurveda 2500-600 BC) and Unani healing art (Kitab-Al-ShiJa, the Magnum Opus of Avicenna, 980-1037 AD).

In adding to the above recorded information in that place is a great wealth of lore concerning the medicinal, narcotic and other properties of plants that is still ffansmitted orally from generation to offspring by tribal societies, particularly those of metaphorical Africa, North and South America and the Pacific countries. These are areas containing the nature‘s greatest number of plant species, not found elsewhere, and with the westernization of in the way that many of the peoples of these zones in that place is a pressing need to note local knowledge before it is shameless forever. In addition, with the eradication of plant species progressing at one alarming rate in certain regions, even before plants have been botanically recorded, plenteous less studied chemically and pharmacologically, the exigency arises for increased efforts directed towards the preservation of gene pools.

A complete intellectual powers of medicinal plants involves a reckon of disciplines including commerce, botany, gardening, chemistry enzymology, genetics, quality control and pharmacology. Pharmacognosy is not some one of these per se however seeks to embrace them in a unified aggregate for the betteru nderstandinga nd utilization of medicative plants. A perusal ofthe monographs adhering crude drugs in a modem dispensatory at once illusfates the necessity on the side of a multidisciplinary approach. Unlike those who laid the foundations of pharmacognosy, not at all one person can now expect to have existence an expert in all areas and, in the same proportion that is illustrated in the next chapter, pharmacognosy can be independently approached from a tell off of viewpoints.

The word ‘pharmacognosy’ had its debut in the premature 19th century to designate the correction related to medicinal plants; it is derived from the Greek pharmakon, ‘a deaden with narcotics’, and gignosco, ‘to acquire a notice of’ and, as recorded by Dr K. Ganzinger (Sci. Pharm.1982, 50, 351), the stipulations ‘pharmacognosy’ and ‘pharmacodynamics’ were probably primitive coined by Johann Adam Schmidt (1759-1809) in his ~writing-written manuscript Lehrbuch der Materia Medica, what one. was posthumously published in Vienna in 1811 . Schmidt was, unril his exit, professor a the medico-surgical Joseph Academy in Vienna; interestingly he was in addition Beethoven’s physician. Shortly after the over publication, ‘pharrnacognosy’ appears again in 1815 in a moderate work by Chr. Aenotheus Seydler entitled Analecta Pharmacognostica. Pharmacognosy is closely connected to botany and plant chemistry and, indeed, the pair originated from the eartier scientific studies without interrupti~ medicinal plants. As late as the opening of the 20th century, the subject had developed in the main on the botanical side, being concemed through the description and identification of drugs, both in the whole state and in powde and through their history, commerce, collection, preparation and storage. Such branches of pharmacognosy are however of fundamental importance, particularly for pharmacopoeial identification and description control purposes, but rapid developments in other areas be the subject of enormously expanded the subject.

The appliance of modern isolation techniques and pharmacologicai testing procedures income that new plant drugs usually furnish their way into medicine as purified substances for better reason than in the form of galenical preparations. Preparation is usually confined to undivided or a few companies who course all the raw material; thus, scarcely any pharmacists have occasion to handle dried Catharanthus roseils albeit they are familiar with formulations of the solitary alkaloids vinblastine and vincristine. For these unaccustomed drugs it is important that the druggist, rather than being fully conversant with the macroscopical and histological characters of the dried engender, is able to cary out the chromatographic and other procedures that must be for the identification and determination of guilelessness of the preparation supplied. Similar remarks apply to such drugs as Rauwolfia, the modem preparations of ergot, and the cardioactive and purgative drugs.

When specific plants, including those used in traditive medicine, suddenly become of interest to the terraqueous globe at large, the local wild sources quickly become exhausted. This necessitatesa, as in the particular occurrence of Catharanthus roseus, Coleus forskohlii, Arnica montana and Taxus brevfolia, exploration into the cultivation or a.rtificial generation by cell culture, etc., of similar species. In order to avert the printing character of supply crisis that arose at the clinical trial stage with the anticancer drug taxol, isolated from T. brevfolia, the US National Cancer Institute has initiated plans on account of future action when a similar situation again arises (see G. M. Cragg et al., J. Nat. Prod., 1993, 56, 165’7).

However, it has been repofied that in the same manner with a result of demand for the of recent origin drug galanthamine (qv) for the treatmento f Alzheimer’s illness, the native source of Leucojum aestivum is at this time in danger.

The use of solitary pure compounds, including synthetic drugs, is not destitute of its limitations, and in recent years in that place has been an immense revival in premium in the herbal and homoeopathic systems of drug, both of which rely heavily put ~ plant sources, At the 9th Congress of the Italian Society of Pharmacognosy (1998) it was settled that the current return of phytotherapy was clearly reflected ~ means of the increased market of such products. In 1995 the latter, for

Europe, reached a figure of $6 billion, by consumption for Germany $2.5 billion, France $1.6 billion and ltaly 600 the masses. In the US, where the employment ofherbal products has never been since strong as in continental Europe, the be augmented in recent years has also been novel with the market for all herb salesr eaching a crown in 1998 approaching $700 million. Again, illustrating the sort trend, the editor of Journal of Natural Products, 1999, writes that in reply to the increasing prominence of pertaining remedies, additional contributions describing scientific investigations of a precise nature are welcomed.

Undoubtedly, the sow kingdom still holds many species of plants containing means of medicinal value  which possess  yet to be discovered; vast numbers of plants are constantly core screened for their possible pharmacological import (particularly for their anti-inflammatory, hypotensive, hypoglycaemic, amoebicidal, anti-productiveness, cytotoxic, antibiotic and anti-Parkinsonismp roperties). Pharmacognosistsw ith a multidisciplinary background are efficient to make valuable contributions to these quickly developing fields of study.

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