Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research (2004): Supplement 2:
2nd International Congress on Traditional Medicine and Materia Medica
The role of physician in ethnopharmacological investigations
Endocrinology and Metabolism Research Center, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Shariati Hospital, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
The essence of ethnopharmacology is interdisciplinary research that usually involves traditional healers, botanists, chemists and pharmacologists. The role of researchers from pertaining disciplines is well defined in ethnopharmacological investigations. However, the exact role of a physician has not yet been distinctly clear in ethnopharmacological investigations. Historical data shows that discovery of several important herbal drugs owe to medical knowledge and expertise of physicians. This report will emphasize roles physician can play in ethnopharmacological studies. Physician can contribute in multiple areas involving ethnopharmacological studies. These include: (1) Interpretation of signs and symptoms from ancient texts and suggesting proper use of old traditional remedies in the light of modern medicine. (2) Ethnopharmacological field work, interviewing healers and interpreting the traditional terminologies, examining patients consuming herbal remedies and identifying the disease for which an herbal remedy is used. (3) Objective evaluation of effectiveness of herbal remedies by clinical studies. (4) Bridging the gap between different members (traditional healer, chemist, botanist and pharmacologist) of the team carrying out ethnopharmacological investigations. Specialized physicians can further play important role in clinical evaluation of herbal remedies or drugs in human subjects. In conclusion, physicians can contribute significantly by their background knowledge of biological sciences, basic and clinical aspects of disease and pharmacology to enhance the quality of information gathered in ethnopharmacological studies and reduce the errors in interpretation of traditional knowledge and evaluation of herbal remedies.