Future of Pharmacognosy

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Chapter: Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry : History, Definition and Scope of Pharmacognosy

Medicinal plants are of great value in the field of treatment and cure of disease. Over the years, scientific research has expanded our knowledge of the chemical effects and composition of the active constituents, which determine the medicinal properties of the plants.


FUTURE OF PHARMACOGNOSY

 

Medicinal plants are of great value in the field of treatment and cure of disease. Over the years, scientific research has expanded our knowledge of the chemical effects and composition of the active constituents, which determine the medicinal properties of the plants. It has now been universally accepted fact that the plant drugs and remedies are far safer than that of synthetic medicines for curing the complex diseases like cancer and AIDS. Enormous number of alkaloids, glycosides and antibiotics have been isolated, identified and used as curative agents. The modern devel-opments in the instrumental techniques of analysis and chromatographical methodologies have added numerous complex and rare natural products to the armoury of phy-tomedicine. To mention a few, artemissinin as antimalarial, taxol as anticancer, forskolin as antihypertensive, rutin as vitamin P and capillary permeability factor and piperine as bioavailability enhancer are the recent developments. Natural products have also been used as drug substitutes for the semisynthesis of many potent drugs. Ergotamine for dihydroergotamine in the treatment of migraine, podophyl-lotoxin for etoposide, a potent antineoplastic drug or sola-sodine and diosgenin that serve for the synthetic steroidal hormones are the first-line examples of the recent days.

 

In the Western world, as the people are becoming aware of the potency and side effects of synthetic drugs, there is an increasing interest in the plant-based remedies with a basic approach towards the nature. The future developments of pharmacognosy as well as herbal drug industry would be largely dependent upon the reliable methodologies for identification of marker compounds of the extracts and also upon the standardization and quality control of these extracts. Mother earth has given vast resources of medicinal flora and fauna both terrestrial and marine, and it largely depends upon the forthcoming generations of pharma-cognosists and phytochemists to explore the wonder drug molecules from this unexploited wealth.

 

Little more needs to be said about the present-day impor-tance of medicinal plants, for it will be apparent from the foregoing that the plant themselves either in the form of crude drugs or even more important, for the medicinally active materials isolated from them, have been, are and always will be an important aid to the physician in the treatment of disease.

 

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