The below mentioned article provides a short notes on Pharmacognosy.
Pharmacognosy is that branch of science that deals with the drugs, their identification, collection, uses, etc. The study of the action of the drug also comes under the preview of pharmacognosy.
It has been a part of the Medial Science since the dawn of civilisation. The Babylonians were aware of the Medicinal effects of a number of plants. The ancient Egyptians possessed a sound knowledge of human anatomy as well as a knowledge of the medicinal uses of many plants and animals.
In a treatise known as Papyrys Ebers — written in 1550 B.C. and discovered in a tomb of a mummy, much has been said about the- skill and knowledge of those people in this field. In India also the study of the drugs was started about 5000 years ago at the time of the Vedas.
Hippocrates (460 — 370 B.C.) deals with anatomy and physiology in many of his treatises. He is referred to as the father of medicine. Aristotle (384 — 322 B.C.), the great philosopher wrote much about the animal kingdom and his writings were placed on scientific footing free from all superstitions.
His disciple Theophrastus (370 — 287 B.C.) wrote about plants and like his master discarded superstitious beliefs while describing medicinal uses of plants. Dioscorides a Greek physician of the 1st Century A.D. was the writer of the first Materia Medica (78 A.D.)
Here he described 600 medicinal plants, including Belladona, Colchicum, Opium, Hyoscyamus, etc. Galen, another Greek physician residing in Rome (131 — 200 A.D.) described the method of preparing drugs of vegetable and animal origin and laid down many formulas contained in a trearise of 20 volumes.
Gradually the knowledge of medicine and pharmacy separated as distinct subjects of study and the physicians and pharmacists followed professions in separate lines. The term pharmacology was introduced by C.A. Seydler, a surgeon of Germany in 1815 to designate the applied science that deals with the biological, biochemical and economical features of natural drugs and their constituents.
A drug is an article of vegetable origin or derived from animal or mineral kingdom. It is used in the treatment of diseases, in curing, mitigation and prevention.
A crude drug is available in small bits or slices, in powdered or shredded forms, or in the pressed specimens. The pharmacognostical study therefore teaches us the source of the drug, collection, drying, preservation and storage of the same, identification of the material, parts to be used and cleaning of the materials.
The study included the extractions, separation and isolation of the component constituents of plant and animal drugs. It teaches us also to find out whether the drug is contaminated or not, and the substitutes. To classify the drugs morphologically and also according to their therapeutic properties comes also under the preview of pharmacognosy.