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Dr. Priya Ranjan* and Dr. Satyendra Kr. Singh


Pharmacognosy is the study of medicinal drugs derived from plants or other natural sources. The American Society of Pharmacognosy defines pharmacognosy as "the study of the physical, chemical, biochemical and biological properties of drugs, drug substances or potential drugs or drug substances of natural origin as well as the search for new drugs from natural sources. It is also defined as the study of crude drugs. The word 'pharmacognosy' is derived from the Greek 'pharmacon', a drug' and gignosco, 'to acquire knowledge of'. It is closely related to both botany and plant chemistry and, both originated from the earlier scientific studies on medicinal plants. With 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 the whole state and in powder and with their history, commerce, collection, preparation and storage. Such branches of pharmacognosy are still of fundamental importance, the rapid development in particularly phytochemistry and pharmacology, have enormously expanded the subject. As a result it is now possible to approach the study of medicinal plants from the botanical, phytochemical and pharmacological view points (Trease and Evams, 14th ed., 1997). Undoubtedly, 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.

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