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What is Pharmacognosy

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

In a broad sense, pharmacognosy embraces a knowledge of the history, distribution, cultivation, collection, selection, preparation, commerce, identification, evaluation, preservation, and use of drugs and economic substances affecting the health of man and other animals.

Such economic substances extend beyond the category of crude drugs and their derivatives and include a variety of commercial products: allergens, allergenic extracts, antibiotics, immunizing biologicals, flavoring agents, condiments, beverages, insecticides, rodenticides, and herbicides.

In a restricted sense, the definition of pharmacognosy implies a particular knowledge of methods of identification and evaluation of drugs. Originally during the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century "pharmacognosy" was used to define the branch of medicine 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.

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 the American Society of Pharmacognosy, pharmacognosy is "the study of natural product molecules (typically secondary metabolites) that are useful for their medicinal, ecological, or other functional properties

For the study of the drug we should know the four distinct departments of study: Pharmaceutical Chemistry: This subject includes the theory and fundamentals of scientific chemistry, but emphasis is focused upon chemical substances of pharmaceutical importance. Pharmacy or Pharmaceutics: Which is concerned with the modes of treatment of chemicals and the crude drugs in the preparation of galenicals and medicines in forms suitable for administration.

Pharmacology or Pharmacodynamics: To study the responses of organisms when subjected to treatment by drugs. Pharmacognosy: which is the scientific study of the structural, physical, chemical and sensory characters of crude drugs of animals, vegetable and mineral origin and includes also their history, cultivation and collection and other particulars relating to the treatment they receive during their passage from the producer to the distributors or pharmacists.So pharmacognosy is the objective study of the crude drugs of animal, vegetables and mineral origin, treated scientifically.

What is Crude Drugs? Crude drugs are natural products which are not pure compound. A plant or animal drug contains all principles characteristic of the drug. The dried leaves bark, or rhizome of a plant contain therapeutically active principles. Also known as botanical; plant extract.

The crude substances derived from plants or animals by more or less elaborate process of extraction, are complex bodies consisting of several components occurring intimately mixed together in fairly definite proportions. Most bioactive compounds of natural origin are secondary metabolites, i.e., speciesspecific chemical agents that can be grouped into various categories.

A typical protocol to isolate a pure chemical agent from natural origin is bioassay-guided fractionation, meaning step-by-step separation of extracted components based on differences in their physicochemical properties, and assessing the biological activity, followed by next round of separation and assaying.

The Scope Of Pharmacognosy

Pharmacognosy is one of the five major divisions of the pharmaceutical curriculum, represents the oldest branch of the profession of pharmacy. The ancients gathered herbs, animals, plants, and minerals and concocted them into ill-flavored pungent mixtures.

Innumerable remedies were known to the early practitioners of pharmacy and medicine, a fact indicated by the writings of Theophrastus, Pliny, Dioscorides, and their contemporaries.

Thousands of plant and animal products used for the treatment of ills were described by Dioscorides in his book "Dc Materia Medica." Of these a surprisingly large number are still of importance in modern therapeutic practice: Cinnamon, Ergot, and Opium were used in much the same manner as today.

It was not until 1815 that the term Pharmacognosy was introduced by Seydler. The most comprehensive idea of the scope of pharmacognosy was presented by Fluckiger, who stated that it is the simultaneous application of various scientific disciplines with the object of acquiring knowledge of drugs from every point of view."

As a part of the pharmaceutical curriculum pharmacognosy plays an important role as liaison agent between pharmacology and pharmaceutical chemistry on one hand and between pharmacy and pharmacy administration on the other.

Pharmacology, like pharmacognosy, is an outgrowth of the old-time materia medica; it is easy to see the correlation of these two sciences concerning drugs of biological origin. The pharmacology student has a more complete understanding of the action of belladonna leaf if he is aware of the physical nature of the drug and its chemical constituents.

Some of the laboratory procedures in pharmaceutical chemistry have miniature counterparts in the extractions and microchemical tests essential for the identification and evaluation of certain drugs.

Types of Drugs
Drugs may be of organized or unorganized drugs. organized drugs like powders of natural occurrence (Lycopodium, pollen); Fossil organisms , Shell and Minerals (exp. Diatomite, chalk, Kaolin, Talc, etc), hairs and fibers (cotton wool), wood, wool, silk) Woods (sandal, quassia); Barks and galls (cinnamon,); leaves (Jaborandi, Senna); flowers (saffron, Marigold); Seeds (Mustard, Almond); Fruits (Fennel, Poppy); Entire organism (yeast, Ergot); Rhizome and root (Arnica, ginger) or

may be unorganized drugs like Gums and saccharine substances (acacia, Tragacanth); Fixed oils, fats, waxes; Glands and Glandular secretion (thyroid gland, musk); Calcium oxalate or may be Powdered drugs like nut shells and fruit stones, capsicums, etc

Definition of Drugs A drug, broadly speaking, is any substance that, when absorbed into the body of a living organism, alters normal bodily function. In pharmacology, a drug is "a chemical substance used in the treatment, cure, prevention, or diagnosis of disease or used to otherwise enhance physical or mental well-being. Drugs may be prescribed for a limited duration, or on a regular basis for chronic disorders.

Recreational drugs are chemical substances that affect the central nervous system, such as opoids or hallucinogens. They may be used for perceived beneficial effects on perception, consciousness, personality and behavior Some drugs can cause addiction and habituation.

Sources of drugs:
They are from Plants, Animals, & of minerals origin. Other categories of substances used by the medical practitioners and by the Pharmacists are included fibers, and fabrics used for making surgical dressing; materials used for strainers for filtration or for clarifying cloudy liquids, such as diatomite and asbestos,

also substances like agar, gelatin and wax which although used to a limited extent as remedial agents are more largely employed as bases or vehicles for the manufacture of ointments, suppositories, lozenges or other special types of medicaments or of oil.

Traditional and Alternative systems of medicines

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Kampoh system Still prevalent. Believed to be prepared b/w 200 BC and 100 AD Based on the idea that all life is subject to natural laws. The hypothesis includes two different systems the Yin (dark) and Yang (light) theory and the five elements (i.e. water, metal, earth, fire, and wood)

The five elements theory proposes that each element leads to the next in a continuous fashion like fire to metal, to wood, to earth, to water and so on. The elements are the five phases indicating the process of continuous movement of life.

According to this system , diseased conditions are the expression of imbalance in yin and yang like excess or deficiency of either of them. For exp., shivering occurs due to excess of yin while excess of yang causes a fever. The treatments are made from various herbs especially the formulations. The traditional Chinese system of medicine has spread to Japan and Korea in a form called Kampoh

Ayurveda-Indian System of Medicine

Believed to be prevalent in the last 5000 years in India. Based on the hypothesis that everything in the universe is composed of five basic elements , viz. space, air, energy, liquid and solid. They exists in the human body in combined forms like vata (space and air), pitta (energy and liquid) and kapha (liquid and solid).

Vata, pitta and kapha together are called Tridosha (three pillars of life). It is believed that they are in harmony with each other, but in every human being one of them is dominating which in turn, is called as the Prakruti of that person

Tridasha exists in human body in seven forms called Saptadhatu viz. Rasa (lymph), Rakta (blood), meca (adipose tissue), mamsa (flesh), majja (nervine tissue), Shukra (reproductive tissue) and asthi (bones).

These tissues are subject to wear and tear so that the mala (excretory materials ) is formed from them. When Tridasha, Saptadhatu and mala are in balance with each other, and it is called a healthy condition while imbalance causes pathological conditions

Unani System of Medicines

The root of this system go deep to the times of Greek Philosopher Hippocrates who is credited with it. Aristotle Golen (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher Father of Natural History made valuable contribution to it. Based on two theories viz Hippocratic theory of four humours and Pythogorian theory of four proximate qualities.

Philosopher Hippocrates

The four humours are blood, phelgm, yellow bile and black bile while the four qualities are the states of living human body like hot, cold, moist and dry. They are represented as earth, water, fire and air. The Unani system of medicines aims at treating the cause of diseases and not its symptoms. For this the history of the patient is recorded in addition to his pulse, urine and stool examination. Drugs are poly herbal formulations

Homoeopathic system of medicine

Comparison to other traditional medicines, homoeopathic system is much newer. Developed in Eighteenth century by Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician and chemist. In this system , the drug treatment is not specified , but the choice of the drugs depend on symptoms and the clinical condition of the patient. This is based on the concept of proving and prover.

Siddha, Naturopathy, Bach flower remedies, Aroma therapy

Siddha were saintly personalities who attained these power by bhakti and yoga. Naturopathy is not merely treatment but a way of life which is based on laws of nature. Bach flower remedies were discovered by Edward Bach, a physician of early decade of twentieth century. It includes 38 remedies prepared from the flowers of wild plants, bushes and trees.

Edward Bach & Samuel Hahnemann

Bach flower remedies are dilutions of flower material developed by Edward Bach, an English bacteriologist, pathologist and homeopath, in the 1930s.

Bach flower

Aroma therapy is one of the most ancient healing arts and traces its origin to 4500 BC when Egyptian used aromatic substances in medicines. Greek also used plant essences in bath and scented massage.