Drugs of natural origin, which have roots in many medical traditions, are of inordinate significance due to the substantial
growth in usage around the world. In addition, nature-based medicines are the topic of increased inquiry in the quest
for novel pharmacophores that hold the prospect of enhanced therapy. The award of the 2015 Nobel Prize in
Physiology or Medicine to nature-based drugs Avermectin and Artemisinin, used in the treatment of infections caused
by roundworm parasites and malaria, respectively, underscores such trends, and highlights, in particular, the potential
value of naturally derived medicines in targeting neglected tropical diseases. This development follows the World
Health Organization’s 2008 ratification of The Beijing Declaration, which promotes the safe and effective use of traditional
and alternative medicines and calls for greater assimilation of these into national health care systems. Issues of
quality, safety, efficacy measurements, commercial production, regulation, and ethics of natural drugs are now, more
than ever, of paramount importance.
Pharmacognosy has evolved from a descriptive botanical subject to a multidisciplinary field inclusive of continuous
advances in cell and molecular biology, ethnobotany, phytotherapy, analytical chemistry, and phytochemistry. It has
embraced innovations for functional analysis of molecular targets that aid the development of targeted therapies. This
book therefore aims to provide the student of pharmacognosy, and the related fields of pharmacy, medicine, medical
herbalism, nursing, medicine, and pharmacology, a fundamental comprehension of naturally derived drugs within the
historical context of their development, in addition to providing an update on recent developments in the field.
The text comprises eight sections. The first section includes an overview of the fabric of pharmacognosy based on
plant metabolites, their origins, their diverse chemistry, and their impact on human diseases. A subsequent section,
unique to this text (as far as we are aware), highlights secondary metabolites and drugs derived from animal sources.
The section on animal anatomy and physiology will assist the student to comprehend the functional application of these
natural drugs. Several later sections of the book focus on a variety of topics covering latest opinions on industrial, technological,
regulatory, ethical, and sustainability developments, which are of potential relevance to undergraduate and
graduate students, and researchers in the field, as well as policy makers. As humans exploit nature’s unique gifts for
alleviating disease, this should be achieved with safety, sustainability, and equitable benefit-sharing considerations in
mind. These were some of the ideas that inspired the content of this book, although it is in no way an attempt to be fully
comprehensive on all aspects of pharmacognosy.