“Pharmacognosy” derives from two Greek words, “pharmakon” or drug, and “gnosis” or knowledge. Like many contemporary fields of science, Pharmacognosy has undergone significant change in recent years and today represents a highly interdisciplinary science that is one of five major areas of pharmaceutical education.
Pharmacognosy is the study of natural product molecules (typically secondary metabolites) that are useful for their medicinal, ecological, gustatory, or other functional properties. The natural species that are the source of the compounds under study span all biological kingdoms, most notably marine invertebrates, plants, fungi, and bacteria. The field of pharmacognosy is ever-changing and is constantly being refreshed by input from new scientific fields and technologies as they are developed. This is one reason why studying pharmacognosy is a good choice for those who like to work at the interface of many different, but complementary, areas of science that relate to the natural world.
Pharmacognosists are trained in many disciplines and tend to have a solid core of training in chemistry, with an understanding of the physical and chemical properties of the compounds that occur in nature, in order to be able to isolate, identify, characterize, and utilize them for specific purposes. Pharmacognosists also have experience in the following areas, depending on their choice of specialization: analytical chemistry; biochemistry; botany; crystallography; ethnobotany; ethnomedicine; fermentation processes; food, flavor or aroma chemistry; herbal medicine; immunology; medicinal chemistry; microbiology; microscopy; molecular biology; organic chemistry; pharmaceutical sciences; pharmacology; regulatory affairs; taxonomy; and toxicology, among many others.
© American Society of Pharmacognosy, 2016
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