Sunday, 14 May 2017

From Pharmacognosia to DNA-Based Medicinal Plant Authentication - Pharmacognosy through the Centuries

2017 May 9. doi: 10.1055/s-0043-108999. [Epub ahead of print]

Author information

Research Cluster 'Biodiversity and Medicines'/Research Group 'Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy', UCL School of Pharmacy, Univ. London, London, United Kingdom.
Institut für Geschichte der Pharmazie, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Marburg/Lahn, Germany.


For centuries, pharmacognosy was essential for the identification, quality, purity, and, until the end of the 18th century, even for the efficacy of medicinal plants. Since the 19th century, it concentrated on authenticity, purity, quality and the analysis of active substances, and was established as an academic branch discipline within pharmacy and continuously developed into a modern, highly sophisticated science. Even though the paradigm in pharmacy changed in the 19th century with the discovery of morphine and concentrated on single substances that could be synthesized fast by the upcoming industry, medicinal plants always remained an important element of the Materia medica, and during the last decades, medicinal plants continue to be a source of remedies, and natural products are an inspiration for new medicine. In this research, pharmacognostic skills remain an essential element, both with regards to identity, quality assurance of botanicals (both herbal medicines and supplements), and the discovery and development of new medicines. Over the years, the specific pharmacognostical tools have changed dramatically, and most recently, DNA-based techniques have become another element of our spectrum of scientific methods.