Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research (2004): Supplement 2: 13-13
2nd International Congress on Traditional Medicine and Materia Medica
Role of ethnopharmacology in the development of modern medicine
Department of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, The Aga Khan University Medical College, Karachi, Pakistan
According to WHO, about three-quarters of the world population rely upon traditional medicine (TM) mainly herbs for the healthcare. Apparently all primitive peoples used herbs-often in a sophisticated way. By the middle of the 19th century at least 80% of all medicines were derived from herbs. Then came the revolution inspired by the development of the pharmaceutical industry and synthetic drugs dominated, though herbal medicine has never been out of scene. Even today if you walk into any pharmacy in the West, you will find at least 25% plant-derived drugs. Morphine, digoxin, quinine, quinidine, atropine, physostigmine, pilocarpine, vincristine, vinblastine, taxol and artimesinin are a few examples of what traditional medicine has given us in the past. Most of these plant-derived drugs were originally discovered through the study of traditional cures and folk knowledge of indigenous people. There is a revival of interest in TM, the revival which has been so dramatic that the current global herbal industry is over US $ 100 Billions a year. Ispaghul, Garlic, Ginkgo, Ginseng, St. John’s Wort and Saw palmetto are a few examples of botanicals which are gaining popularity amongst the physicians of modern medicine and known to contain interesting combination of pharmacological activities. TM is now increasingly becoming essential part of the medical curriculum. Interestingly, citations of studies on TM and the impact factor of the respective journals are growing with rapid pace. Thus there is a huge potential of medicinal plants in healthcare of not only in developing countries but also in the industrialized world and the acceptance of botanicals in modern medicine is likely to be increased in the years to come. A team work amongst the ethnobotanists, ethnopharmacologists and the phytochemists is essential for the meaningful out come.