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DEFINITION:

MATERIA MEDICA ( MEDICINAL MATERIALS):

From this humble beginning medicine and pharmacy gradually emerged along separate paths: the physician diagnosing the ailment and prescribing the remedy and the apothecary or pharmacist specializing in the collection, preparation, and compounding of the substance. Thus, the term materia medica (meaning medicinal materials) was synonymous with the substances and products derived from natural sources and employed by the physicians of that era.

It was not until 1815 that the term Pharmacognosy was introduced by Seydler. This name is formed from two Greek words, pharmakon, drug, and gnosis, knowledge, and literally means the "entire knowledge of drugs." 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."

Pharmacognosy is the branch of bioscience, which deals in detail the medicinal and related products of crude and primary type obtained from plants, animals, and minerals.
in short its an objective study of crude drugs from natural sources and treated scientifically, and encompasses the knowledge of history, distribution, cultivation, collection, processing for market and preservation, the study of sensory, physical, chemical, and structural characters, and the use of crude drugs.
Suspending, disintegrating, and flavouring agents, filtering aids, antibiotics, allergens, hellucinogenic and poisonous plants, immunizing agents, pesticides etc., are also included in pharmacognosy
In other words one can say its a multidisiplinary approach towards the complete understanding of medicinal plants/animals and the related crude drug products.
And for this, a pharmacognosist must have a sound knowledge of botany, zoology, plant taxonomy, plant breading, plant genetics, plant/animal pathology, and biochemistry.

SCOPE

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 prod-ucts 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: Aspidium, Cinnamon, Ergot, Hyoscyamus, and Opium were used in much the same manner as today.
The knowledge of pharmacognosy is essential towards the understanding of molecular action of drugs on the animals, plants, and human systems.Pharmacognosy is the infrastruture on which depends the evolution of novel medicines. Pharmacognosy now a days has become an important link between the pharmacology and the medicinal chemistry. As a rapid development of phytochemistry and pharmacological testing methods in recent years new plant drugs are finding their way into the medicine. Further the crude drugs also provide the essential intermediates for the final synthesis of active compounds

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