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A subfield of pharmacology which studies the biological and chemical components of medically useful substances that occur naturally (primarily those synthesized by plants).



a branch of pharmacy that studies medicinal raw materials of plant and animal origin and various products derived directly from these materials (such as essential and fatty oils, resins, and latex).

The principal concerns of modern pharmacognosy are the investigation of medicinal raw materials, the development of methods for determining the active substances in the materials (including methods involving fluorescence and thin-layer chromatography), and the location of the substances in the various plant and animal organs and tissues in which they concentrate. In addition, pharmacognosy develops methods of discovering wild medicinal plants and performs a number of important functions relating to the standardization of medicinal raw materials. For example, it establishes procedures to be used in collecting, drying, and sorting the raw materials, formulates rules governing the transfer of raw materials to factories and warehouses and the delivery and storage of the materials at these facilities, and sets standards for determining the genuineness and quality of the materials.

Pharmacognosy is the oldest branch of pharmacy. Many medicinal plants were known to the ancient peoples of Southeast Asia and the Middle East. The Greek physician Dioscorides (first century A.D.) is considered the founder of pharmacognosy in Europe. His book Materia medica was used as a handbook on the subject up to the 19th century. Galen and Paracelsus developed new areas in pharmacognosy. Medieval Arab physicians made a major contribution to the field. Original works on pharmacognosy, such as prescription manuals and handbooks for the use of medicinal plants, appeared in Russia in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. The first Russian pharmacopoeia, Pharmacopoea Rossica, came out in 1778; N. M. Ambodik-Maksimovich’s multivolume Materia medica, published between 1783 and 1788, included descriptions of many medicinal plants. A. P. Neliubin, Iu. K. Trapp, and V. A. Tikhomirov also made important contributions to Russian pharmacognosy.

The trend toward specialization in modern pharmacognosy has given rise to the development of pharmaceutical chemistry, the field of drug forms, and biological pharmacy as independent theoretical and practical disciplines. Pharmacognosy is closely associated with such other fields as botany (plant anatomy, management of botanical resources), analytical chemistry, and chemical technology. In the USSR, medicinal raw materials have been standardized by the government since 1926. Problems of pharmacognosy are investigated at the All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Medicinal Plants in Moscow Oblast, the Kharkov Scientific Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, and the Institute of Pharmacochemistry of the Georgian SSR and in pharmacognosy subdepartments of pharmacy institutes and other scientific establishments. In the Soviet educational system pharmacognosy is a division of pharmacy and is taught in higher and secondary educational institutions of pharmacy.


Gammerman, A. F. Kurs farmakognozii, 6th ed. Leningrad, 1967.
Dragendorf, G. Die Heilpflanzen der verschiedenen Völker und Zeiten. Stuttgart, 1898.
Handbuch der Pharmakognosie, 2nd ed., vols. 1–3. Edited by A. Tschirch. Leipzig, 1930–33.


References in periodicals archive ?
Both of these basic principles of pharmacognosy were systematically developed by Professor Wagner over last 60 years, providing an evidence-based approach to phytomedicine.
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A drug over the millennia: Pharmacognosy, chemistry, and pharmacology of licorice.
Researchers in the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy have received $5 million in new funding to study botanical supplements, including those containing hops, that may provide women relief of menopausal symptoms and to support research training in pharmacognosy, the study of natural products.
The compounds are not toxic in large doses, but high concentrations may not necessarily be healthful, explained Dale Nagle, associate professor of pharmacognosy in the UM School of Pharmacy who worked with Zhou on the project.
from the School of Pharmacy, Purdue University, and Muriel Cuendet and Young-Hwa Kang from the Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy, University of Illinois at Chicago.
Inca Health's vast pharmacognosy and production experience with Peru's biodiversity, along with Unigen's state-of-the-art natural product research laboratories, provides the perfect match for developing novel health products.
Drugs of Natural Origin: A Textbook of Pharmacognosy.
They were addressed in pharmacognosy, a discipline which essentially disappeared over 20 years ago.
Dr John Wilkinson, an expert in pharmacognosy - the scientific study of natural products - at Middlesex University, says mushrooms' health secrets have been exploited in China and Japan for thousands of years.
Tyler, who was distinguished professor emeritus of pharmacognosy, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind.