The word "pharmacognosy" is derived from two Greek words φάρμακον pharmakon (drug), and γνῶσις gnosis (knowledge). The term "pharmacognosy" was used for the first time by the Austrian physician Schmidt in 1811 and 1815 by Crr. Anotheus Seydler in a work titled Analecta Pharmacognostica.
Originally—during the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century—"pharmacognosy" was used to define the branch of medicine or commodity sciences (Warenkunde in German) which deals with drugs in their crude, or unprepared, form. Crude drugs are the dried, unprepared material of plant, animal or mineral origin, used for medicine. The study of these materials under the name pharmakognosie was first developed in German-speaking areas of Europe, while other language areas often used the older term materia medica taken from the works of Galen and Dioscorides. In German the term drogenkunde ("science of crude drugs") is also used synonymously.
As late as the beginning of the 20th century, the subject had developed mainly on the botanical side, being particularly concerned with the description and identification of drugs both in their whole state and in powder form. Such branches of pharmacognosy are still of fundamental importance, particularly for pharmacopoeial identification and quality control purposes, but rapid development in other areas has enormously expanded the subject. The advent of the 21st century brought a renaissance of pharmacognosy and its conventional botanical approach has been broadened up to molecular and metabolomic level.
Although most pharmacognostic studies focus on plants and medicines derived from plants, other types of organisms are also regarded as pharmacognostically interesting, in particular, various types of microbes (bacteria, fungi, etc.), and, recently, various marine organisms.
In addition to the previously mentioned definition, the American Society of Pharmacognosy also defines pharmacognosy as "the study of natural product molecules (typically secondary metabolites) that are useful for their medicinal, ecological, gustatory, or other functional properties." Other definitions are more encompassing, drawing on a broad spectrum of biological subjects, including botany, ethnobotany, marine biology, microbiology, herbal medicine, chemistry, biotechnology, phytochemistry, pharmacology, pharmaceutics, clinical pharmacy and pharmacy practice.
At the 9th congress of Italian society of pharmacognosy it was stated that current return of phyto-therapy was clearly reflected by the increased market of such products. In 1998 the latest figures available for Europe, the total OTC market for herbal medicinal products reached a figure of $6 billion, with consumption for Germany of $2.5 billion, France $1.6 billion and Italy $600 million. In the US, where the use of herbal products has never been as prevalent as in continental Europe, the market for all herb sales reached a peak in 1998 of $700 billion. This welcomed the scientific investigation of a rigorous nature.
The plant kingdom still holds many species of plants containing substances of medicinal value which have yet to be discovered. Large numbers of plants are constantly being screened for their possible pharmacological value.
Medicinal chemistry and pharmaceutical chemistry are disciplines at the intersection of chemistry, especially synthetic organic chemistry, and pharmacology and various other biological specialties, where they are involved with design, chemical synthesis and development for market of pharmaceutical agents, or bio-active molecules (drugs).
Compounds used as medicines are most often organic compounds, which are often divided into the broad classes of small organic molecules (e.g., atorvastatin, fluticasone, clopidogrel) and "biologics" (infliximab, erythropoietin, insulin glargine), the latter of which are most often medicinal preparations of proteins (natural and recombinant antibodies, hormones, etc.). Inorganic and organometallic compounds are also useful as drugs (e.g., lithium and platinum-based agents such as lithium carbonate and cis-platin).
In particular, medicinal chemistry in its most common practice —focusing on small organic molecules—encompasses synthetic organic chemistry and aspects of natural products and computational chemistry in close combination with chemical biology, enzymology and structural biology, together aiming at the discovery and development of new therapeutic agents. Practically speaking, it involves chemical aspects of identification, and then systematic, thorough synthetic alteration of new chemical entities to make them suitable for therapeutic use. It includes synthetic and computational aspects of the study of existing drugs and agents in development in relation to their bioactivities (biological activities and properties), i.e., understanding their structure-activity relationships (SAR). Pharmaceutical chemistry is focused on quality aspects of medicines and aims to assure fitness for purpose of medicinal products.
At the biological interface, medicinal chemistry combines to form a set of highly interdisciplinary sciences, setting its organic, physical, and computational emphases alongside biological areas such as biochemistry, molecular biology, pharmacognosy and pharmacology, toxicology and veterinary and human medicine; these, with project management, statistics, and pharmaceutical business practices, systematically oversee altering identified chemical agents such that after pharmaceutical formulation, they are safe and efficacious, and therefore suitable for use in treatment of disease.
Pharmacology is the branch of medicine and biology concerned with the study of drug action, where a drug can be broadly defined as any man-made, natural, or endogenous (from within body) molecule which exerts a biochemical and/or physiological effect on the cell, tissue, organ, or organism (sometimes the word pharmacon is used as a term to encompass these endogenous and exogenous bioactive species). More specifically, it is the study of the interactions that occur between a living organism and chemicals that affect normal or abnormal biochemical function. If substances have medicinal properties, they are considered pharmaceuticals.
The field encompasses drug composition and properties, synthesis and drug design, molecular and cellular mechanisms, organ/systems mechanisms, signal transduction/cellular communication, molecular diagnostics, interactions, toxicology, chemical biology, therapy, and medical applications and antipathogenic capabilities. The two main areas of pharmacology are pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics. The former studies the effects of the drug on biological systems, and the latter the effects of biological systems on the drug. In broad terms, pharmacodynamics discusses the chemicals with biological receptors, and pharmacokinetics discusses the absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion (ADME) of chemicals from the biological systems. Pharmacology is not synonymous with pharmacy and the two terms are frequently confused. Pharmacology, a biomedical science, deals with the research, discovery, and characterization of chemicals which show biological effects and the elucidation of cellular and organismal function in relation to these chemicals. In contrast, pharmacy, a health services profession, is concerned with application of the principles learned from pharmacology in its clinical settings; whether it be in a dispensing or clinical care role. In either field, the primary contrast between the two are their distinctions between direct-patient care, for pharmacy practice, and the science-oriented research field, driven by pharmacology.
The origins of clinical pharmacology date back to the Middle Ages in Avicenna's The Canon of Medicine, Peter of Spain's Commentary on Isaac, and John of St Amand's Commentary on the Antedotary of Nicholas. Clinical pharmacology owes much of its foundation to the work of William Withering. Pharmacology as a scientific discipline did not further advance until the mid-19th century amid the great biomedical resurgence of that period. Before the second half of the nineteenth century, the remarkable potency and specificity of the actions of drugs such as morphine, quinine and digitalis were explained vaguely and with reference to extraordinary chemical powers and affinities to certain organs or tissues. The first pharmacology department was set up by Rudolf Buchheim in 1847, in recognition of the need to understand how therapeutic drugs and poisons produced their effects.
Early pharmacologists focused on natural substances, mainly plant extracts. Pharmacology developed in the 19th century as a biomedical science that applied the principles of scientific experimentation to therapeutic contexts. Today pharmacologists use genetics, molecular biology, chemistry, and other advanced tools to transform information about molecular mechanisms and targets into therapies directed against disease, defects or pathogens, and create methods for preventative care, diagnostics, and ultimately personalized medicine.
Pharmaceutics is the discipline of pharmacy that deals with the process of turning a new chemical entity (NCE) or old drugs into a medication to be used safely and effectively by patients. It is also called the science of dosage form design. There are many chemicals with pharmacological properties, but need special measures to help them achieve therapeutically relevant amounts at their sites of action. Pharmaceutics helps relate the formulation of drugs to their delivery and disposition in the body. Pharmaceutics deals with the formulation of a pure drug substance into a dosage form. Branches of pharmaceutics include:
Pure drug substances are usually white crystalline or amorphous powders. Historically before the advent of medicine as a science it was common for pharmacists to dispense drugs as is, most drugs today are administered as parts of a dosage form. The clinical performance of drugs depends on their form of presentation to the patient.Modern Pharmaceutics, Volume 121. Gilbert S. Banker, Christopher T. Rhodes