What does pharmacognosy study?

The etymological meaning of the term Pharmacognosy is the knowledge (from gnosis) of poisons (from pharmakon).

Pharmacognosy is therefore that scientific discipline that deals with the study of biologically active products of natural origin. These products can be obtained from organisms of plant or animal origin, as well as from minerals, have a complex nature and are defined as drugs, a term which in this case does not refer to those substances used for pleasure and which are capable of modifying the mental and physical state.

In the past, drugs of animal origin have played an important role, while that of drugs of mineral origin has always been more marginal.

Currently, the main object of study of Pharmacognosy is represented by herbal drugs and their biological activities. It’s a composite study, because a plant drug contains a set of phytochemical substances, the phytocomplex, in which a pharmacological activity is expressed which includes the synergies and antagonisms of all these substances.

The research that takes place in the Laboratory of Pharmacognosy is multidisciplinary and involves botany and phytochemistry, starting from the ethnopharmacological knowledge relating to the medicinal plants being studied.