Introduction to Pharmacognosy
WHICH OF THE FOLLOWING
WOULD YOU CLASSIFY A
Ø Lettuce Ø Cardamom
Ø Cucumber Ø Nasturtium
Ø Cornsilk Ø Rose
Ø Butternut Ø Hibiscus
Ø Celery Ø Agapanthus
Ø Oats Ø Pine
Ø Melons Ø Plantain
Ø Chillies Ø Garlic
Ø Fennel Ø Cinnamon
Ø All spice Ø Bay
Ø Flaxseed Ø Clove
Ø Turmeric Ø Cumin
Ø Nutmeg Ø Ginger
Pharmakon = A Drug
Gignosco = To acquire a
Knowledge of a Structure,
Function & Geographical habits of
SUBJECTS INVOLVED IN
Ø BOTANY: The Science of or Study of
Ø PHYTOTHERAPY: The study of herbs
and its application for holistic healing.
Ø BIOCHEMISTRY: To Understand the
Chemical Composition of the plant.
Ø PHARMACOLOGY: The study of drugs, their
sources, nature, and properties, and the body's
reaction to these drugs.
Ø COMMERCE: The buying and selling of goods,
especially on a large scale, as between cities or
nations. The exchange of commodity for
Ø GENETICS: A branch of biology involving the
study of the structure, location, effects &
abnormalities of genes (physical unit of heredity)
Enzymology: Branch of biochemistry concerned with
the structure & Fx of enzymes & co-enzymes.
Plant Chemistry: Chemistry specific to plant function
Horticulture: The science/art of cultivating fruits,
vegetables, flowers, ornamental plants or herbs.
Quality Control: A procedure for keeping quality
of inputs or outputs to specifications. The operational
techniques and the activities used to fulfil and verify
requirements of quality.
Ø Ethnobotany The plant lore of a
race or people; also the
systematic study of such lore.
Ø Ethnopharmacology The
study of biologically active plant
employed or observed by man for
Ø Aim of Pharmacognosy:
Ø Development of Pharmacognosy
Ø Can stimulate a miscarriage (see
Ø E.g. Hydrastis cannadensis – used to for
Ø Increases the body’s resistance to stress (helps
the body “adapt”).
Ø E.g. Ashwaganda
Ø Adrenal tonic:
Ø Strengthens and nourishes the adrenal
Ø E.g. borago – exam stress
Ø Herbs that gradually alters one’s condition,
normalizes body functions and increases
health and vitality.
Ø Galium aperine
Ø Analgesic, Anodyne:
Ø Reduce pain
Ø e.g. Papaver somniferum – opium poppy
Ø removes worms from body – most are
toxic in high dosage.
Ø Artemissia afra – Wormwood and Garlic.
Ø helps remove excess bile
Ø e.g.Hydrastis Canadensis
Ø helps the body remove excess catarrhal
or mucous buildups; In the sinuses and
other parts of body.
Ø E.g. Garlic and Golden seal – Hydrastis
Ø Herbs that reduce the feeling of nausea and can
help relieve or prevent vomiting.
Ø E.g. Mentha piperita, Zingiber officinalis (works
better than pharmaceutical anti-emetics).
Ø A herb that helps prevent the formation of
stones or “gravel” in the UT and helps the body
with their removal.
Ø E.g. Gravel Root, Stone Root, Carrot, Parsley
Ø herb that helps the body destroy or
prevent pathogenic micro-organisms.
Ø E.g. Garlic, allium sativum
Ø Prevent or ease spasms and cramps in
Ø E.g. Cramp bark
Ø mild laxative herbs.
Ø E.g.Apricots, Prune juice, Linum
Ø Aromatic herbs have a strong and often
pleasant odour and can be used to
stimulate the digestive system. They are
often used to add aroma and taste to other
Ø E.g. Mentha piperita (peppermint).
Ø Herbs that contract tissues by precipitating
proteins and therefore reduce secretions
Ø All astringents contain tannins. E.g.
Ø A herb that has a bitter taste that acts as
a stimulating tonic for digestion.
Ø e.g. Wormwood
Ø Cardiac Tonic:
Ø Affect the heart. Affect heart in different
ways depending on the specific herb.
Ø E.g. Crataegus monogyna.
Ø Stimulate peristalsis, relax the stomach
and support digestion.
Ø E.g. Fennel – Foeniculum vulgare,
Ø Herbs that stimulate the release of bile.
Also have a laxative effect
Ø E.g. Hydrastis Canadensis – Golden
Ø Herbs rich in mucilage which soothe and
protect irritated and inflamed internal
Ø E.g Glycerrhiza glabra.
Ø Promote perspiration and aid elimination
of toxins via the skin.
Ø E.g. Zingiber officinalis – Ginger
Ø Increases the secretion and elimination of
Ø E.g. Galium aperine, Clivers, Cleavers
Ø Herbs that cause vomiting. Most herbs
are only emetic in very high doses.
Ø e.g. Lobelia inflate and Blood root
Ø Stimulate and “normalize” the menstrual
Ø E.g. False unicorn root, Raspberry, Red
Sage, Thyme, True Unicorn Root,
Wormwood, Squaw vine, Rosemary
Ø Febrifuge, anti-pyretic:
Ø Helps reduce fevers
Ø E.g. Peppermint Red sage, Thyme,
Ø Help stimulate the “flow” of breast milk
Ø e.g. Brewers yeast, Fennel, Raspberry
Ø Aid the liver.
Ø E.g. Black root, Blue flag, Celery, Fennel
Ø Herbs that induce sleep (not a hypnotic
trance). Also called a soporific.
Ø E.g. Wild lettuce, hops
Ø Promote the evacuation of the bowels
Ø E.g. Aloe, Senna
Ø Mucilaginous herbs act as demulcents
Ø e.g. Slippery Elm, Iceland moss,
Ø Herb that has a beneficial effect on the nervous
system. Some act as stimulants, others as
Ø e.g. Chamomile, Ginseng, Lavender,
Rosemary, Peppermint, Wormwood, Wild
Ø Stimulate the contraction of the uterus and aid in
Ø e.g. Squaw vine
Ø Strengthening and healing effect on the
Ø e.g. Comfrey, Symphytum officinalis
Ø when applied to the skin they mild local irritation
and stimulate the dilation of the capillaries,
increasing circulation to the skin. Blood is drawn
from deeper parts of the body into the skin,
removing or relieving pain.
Ø e.g Cayenne, Garlic, Ginger, Mustard,
Ø Calm the nervous system and reduce
stress and nervousness.
Ø E.g. St Johns Wort, Wild cherry, Wild
Ø Herbs that stimulate the increase of saliva
secretion from salivary glands.
Ø E.g.Ginger, Cayenne
Ø quickens and enlivens the physiological
functions of the body.
Ø E.g. Cayenne, Rosemary, Garlic
Ø Strengthens and tones the stomach,
reduces gas/flatulence and aids digestion
(similar but not identical to carminative –
does not stimulate peristelsis).
Ø E.g. Garlic
Ø Reduce or stop bleeding due to
Ø E.g. Plantain
Ø Strengthen and enliven specific organs or
the whole body.
Ø E.g. Garlic, Ginseng, Hawthorn.
Ø Yang tonic:
Ø Nourishes and strengthens the fluids of
Ø E.g. Daucus carota
Ø Yin tonic:
Ø Nourishes and strengthens the activity of
the body’s functions
Ø E.g. Commiphora molmol
Ø Aid in healing wounds and cuts
Ø E.g. Aloe ferrox, Hypericum perforatum,
Compositiae Family (Matricaria recutica)
DEFINITION OF A HERB?
Definition of herb
Ø Botanists: A small, stemless, seed bearing plant
with fleshy, rather than woody, parts
Ø Broader defintion: addition to herbaceous
perennials, includes trees, shrubs, annuals,
vines, primitive plants, such as ferns, mosses,
algae, lichens, and fungi. They are valued for
their flavour, fragrance, medicinal, economic and
industrial uses, pesticidal properties, and
Ø IDENTIFY ALL HERBS ACCORDING TO
THE ABOVE DEFINITION
Carrot – Daucus carota
Ø rich in Vit. A and beta HERB!
carotene, Ca, P, Mg, K
carotene, Ca, P, Mg, K
Ø raw – boosts liver,
kidneys & GIT
Ø alterative (blood tonic)
Ø anti-bacterial & anti-viral
Ø leaves contains
significant amounts of
stimulate the pituitary
gland and leads to the
release of increased
amounts of sex-
hormones, Worms –
children (eaten raw)
Lactuca sativa – Lettuce
Ø tonic to the kidneys
Ø Vitamins A, C, Bc, Ca (as
much as milk, actually)
Ø * anti-spasmodic
Ø Leaves contain silica –
strengthens the tissues,
Ø Found to be sedative
Cucumis sativus – Cucumber
Ø aids digestion
Ø k, bc, enzyme (erepsin) –
Ø dissolves uric acids that
causes kidney & bladder
Ø natural laxative (high in
Ø regulates bp (diuretic –
high water content)
Zea mays – Corn silk – HERB!
Ø Rheumatism &
Ø Demulcent: UTI’s, &
Ø Pollen extracts: BPH
Ø Pollen: weakness &
Butterut – Juglans cinerea – HERB!
Ø Liver stagnation
Celery – Apium Gravelens
Ø Slimming Agent
Ø UTI’, cystitis
Avena sativa – oats
Ø Cardiac tonic
Ø Nervous system tonic
Ø Nervous system nutritive
Ø Beauty: exfoliant,
cleanser & rejuvenator
Ø Hot flushes: menopause
Ø Tonic: thymus gland
Ø Nervous exhaustion
Cucumis melo – Melons
Ø Vitamins B & C
Ø Kidney tonic
Ø High gi, low gl, used
for weight loss (same
Corrandrum sativum – Coriander
Ø anti-spasmodic à
Elletaria cardamomum –
Cardamom – HERB!
Ø Strengthen the heart &
Ø Spleen tonic
Ø Stimulate the mind,
impart clarity & mental
Ø Fetal restlessness
Tropaeolum majus – Nasturtium –
Rosa spp. - Rose
Ø skin toner
Ø originally comes from
Ø Mildly sedative & anti-
Ø Rosewater: astringent:
toner & sore eyes
Ø Rose petals: reduce high
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis – Hibiscus
Ø mild anti-microbial
Ø bladder infections
Ø liver disorder
Ø eye infections
Ø itchy skin
Ø conditioning shampoo can be
made from the leaves
Agapanthus africanus –
Agapanthus – HERB!
Ø Decoction given
orally/rectally as an
antenatal & postnatal
Ø Given to baby
immediately after birth
Ø Mild purgative
Ø Ease difficult labour
Ø Ensure the placenta
Pinus sylvestrus – Pine
Ø respiratory disorders
Ø digestive complaints
Plantago lanceolata – Plantain
Allium sativum – Garlic
Ø immune booster
Ø decreases cholesterol
Ø anti-bacterial, anti-
Chillies – capsicum
fructesens/minimum – HERB!
Ø sore throat
Ø circulatory disorders
Ø colds and flu
Fennel – Foeniculum vulgare
Ø intestinal cramps
Allspice – Pimenta officinalis
Ø proteins, lipids, minerals,
Vit A, C, B1+2
Ø digestive stimulant
Ø flatulence & indigestion
Ø tonic /laxative (how its
mixed with other herbs)
Ø stomach settling
Linum usitassimum – flaxseed
Ø Bulk laxative
Curcuma longa – Turmeric
Ø Circulatory stimulant
Myristica fragrans – Nutmeg
Ø Circulatory stimulant
Ø Hallucinogen (large
Cinamomum zeylanicum –
Cinnamon – HERB!
Ø Cardiac stimulant
Laurus nobilis – Bay
Ø Anti-fungal (tea – soak
Ø Circulatory stimulant
Ø Memory loss
Ø Poultice: bronchitis,
colds, coughs etc.
Syzygium aromaticum – Clove
Cuminum cyminum – cumin
Zingiber officinalis – Ginger
Ø Circulatory stimulant
ONION: Allium cepa
Ø planting between roses
enhances the smell, insects
and aphids are less common
Ø boosts the immune system
Ø cleanses the blood (alterative)
Ø flushes the kidneys (diuretic)
Ø reduces spasm and tension in
Ø decreases cholesterol
Ø removes heavy metals from
INFLUENCE OF HERBAL
MEDICINE ON YOUR STUDIES
Influence of European Herbalism
• increasingly popular in Europe.
• European Herbal Philosophy: World is made up
of elements: Earth, Fire, Water & Air.
• Plants: hot – dry – cold or moist properties
Ø Theory of 4 humours
Ø Four principal fluids exist within the body
l choler (yellow bile)
l Melancholy (black bile)
Ideally: all 4 humours are in balance (normally with 1 or
l Influences: Phytotherapy & Unani Tibb
l NOTE: Phytotherapy ≠ Western Herbal Medicine
Ø TCM & herbal medicine China
from Chinese folk
Ø Principle theories – Yin &
Yang, 5 elements, effect
of nature on Health
Ø Living in harmony with
these principles = key to
Ø Herbs are said to be Yin
or Yang tonics, and also
to strengthen the organs
associated with each
Ø Africa has a greater
variety of herbal traditions Africa
than any other continent.
Ø North Africa: Papyrus BC
1500 – Gentiana lutea,
Aloe vera, Papaver
somnifera with conditions
ranging from chest pain
to croc bites.
Ø Nomadic peoples:
healing is linked to the
spiritual worlds (largely
unchanged from original
Ø Involves Asian Theories about the Energy
of the body
Ø The Four Element (Humours) Theories of
Ancient Greece (Unani Tibb)
Ø The Planetary Correspondences of
Oriental philosophy & astrology
Ø Five Categories
l Pungent (spicy)
Ø TCM associates each taste with a particular
organ or organ-system within the body.
Ø HOW IT WORKS: When we experience a
flavour, taste sensors send messages to the
brain à induce physiological effects in the
organ system affected/linked to the taste.
Ø Through flavour, we’re able to alter & affect the
functions of our bodies
Ø Yin Flavours = Cooling
Ø Salty, Sour & bitter flavours.
Ø Yin flavours arise & subside quickly.
Ø Yang flavours = warming
Ø Sweet & pungent flavours = Yang
Ø These tastes are also slower to be sensed
and remain longer (effect)
Ø Sour, bitter & pungent: drying energy
Ø Help regulate imbalances arising from
Ø E.g.oily skin, oedema, joint swelling,
candida, fatigue, etc.
Ø Sweet & Salty: Moistening
Ø Regulate conditions resulting from fluid
Ø E.g. Dry cough, constipation etc.
Ø Cooling, Dry & Astringent
Ø Normally due to the presence of acids: malic, citric or
Ø Stimulates the liver & gallbladder & salivary glands
Ø Restricts secretions such as sweat, urine, blood, seminal
Ø Carminative, anti-pyretic.
Ø Helps cleanse the skin & tonify the tissues
Ø Pts suffering from hyperacidity, diarrhoea, broken
capillaries & dark circles under their eyes should be
careful of overdoing the sour flavour.
Ø Cooling, drying, toning, draining (catabolic).
Ø Anti-inflammatory & anti-bacterial
Ø Most bitters contain an alkaloid.
Ø Bitters stimulate the intestines, pancreas, & digestive secretions.
Ø Strengthens the heart, lowers cholesterol & fevers, reduces cravings
for sweets, supports fat metabolism, helps reduce allergies,
eliminates heat & mucous, especially from the lungs.
Ø Can aid weight loss, decrease fat, detoxify the blood and clear the
mind & skin.
Ø Herbs include Angelica, chamomile, dandelion leaf, green tea &
Ø Energising: beneficial for those feeling lethargic, & pts who are hot
Ø Pts suffering from low energy (chronic), cold & dry or suffering from
ulcers should use bitters sparingly.
Ø Sweet is toning & nourishing.
Ø Results from the presence of CHO’s
Ø Helps to slow down acute symptoms, increases
tolerance to stress & pain.
Ø Rejuvenating, anabolic, heals & tones muscle.
Ø Energising & calming
Ø Sweet nourishes Ying (Fluids of the body), strengthening
the immune system, especially in the frail & elderly.
Ø Pts who are cold, dry, cold and “spacey” (Vata) benefit
especially from sweet foods, such as fruit, whole grains
& sweet herbs e.g. anise, fennel, liquorice & stevia.
Ø pungent or spicy is warming & dispersing
Ø Stimulating: induces perspiration, stimulates the nerves,
relieves nerve pain, clears Qi stagnation, promotes
circulation, aids digestion and clears the skin.
Ø Moves internal energy to the surface (e.g. ginger)
Ø Mostly due to the presence of volatile oils (anti-microbial)
Ø Pungent is cooling to the interior and worming to the
exterior of the body.
Ø E.g. Basil, cinnamon, ginger & mint.
Ø Should not be taken in excess by those suffering from
Ø Cooling, softening, draining & diuretic (drying).
Ø Indicates the presence of minerals in food/herbs.
Ø Helps softens hardened masses within the body (tumors).
Ø Used in moderation, it has a moistening effect.
Ø Beneficial to the nerves, kidneys & bladder.
Ø Aids fluid metabolism, helps strengthens the nerves, opens blocked
Qi meridians, improves circulation, awakens the mind & senses &
strengthens the heart.
Ø Excessive salt craving may indicate adrenal exhaustion (prolonged
Ø Sea vegetables such as kelp and dulse are good examples of salty
tastes, and herbs such as nettle, dandelion leaf and plantain.
Ø In reference to the
activity of the plant:
does it heat the body
(ginger), or cool it
Ø Indicated by the
by the patient
Ø E.g. fever or
conditions) à cooling
Ø Cold conditions: OA,
or poor circulation à
Ø Excessive dampness
& dryness are signs Moisture
Ø Dampness: swelling, Ø Temperament?
Ø Dryness: dry cough,
dry skin, constipation,
old age (naturally dry)
Ø Moistening plants
Ø Drying plants contain
Ø Yin and yang exist only in relation to each other
& each contain aspects of the other.
Ø Good health results in Ying & Yang being in
constant & perfect balance (Homeostasis)
Ø Yin plants can be used to correct conditions
arising from a Ying imbalance, Ying plants can
be used to correct conditions arising from a Yin
Ø Yin plants: cooling
Ø Yang plants: Warming
Ø The association between
herbs & astrology is rooted in
the Ancient Doctrine of
Ø In terms of healing: observing
a plant’s colour, leaf shape,
growth habit, habitat; all give
clues to the plant’s therapeutic
Ø Acknowledges that
macrocosms such as planets
can be represented in
microcosms such as plants
Ø Corresponds with hot,
Ø Heart of our solar
system (governs the
heart of the body,
spinal column & eyes)
Ø Herbs corresponding
to the sun often affect
the heart, are hot &
Ø Cool, moist & feminine Moon
Ø Plants: high juice
content, mild flavour, soft
leaves, preference to
growing in or near water
(TAM: Indigenous herbs
used for labour), pale
yellow or white flowers &
Ø Moon (plants) govern
body’s fluids, digestive
glandular & mucous
affect the subconscious,
soothe the stomach and
Ø Cool & dry energy.
Ø Governs the nervous
senses of hearing (&
(incl. lungs, bronchi &
Ø Facilitates the ability
to make associations
and link concepts.
Ø Cool & moist energy
Ø Associated with love,
beauty and the arts.
Ø Related to internal sexual
& reproductive organs,
skin, nose and sense of
smell, umbilical cord,
neck, spine & palate,
thymus gland & kidneys.
Ø Help purify the blood,
open up the sweat
glands, calm desire for
Ø hot, pungent & dry
Ø Affects the adrenal
gallbladder, sense of
taste, red blood cells,
nerves, rectum, eye
muscles, head, left
brain, left ear.
Ø Strong, acrid flavour,
prickles & thorns
Ø Warm & Moist
Ø Associated with adventure,
social order, morals &
Ø Organs: anterior pituitary
gland, liver, pancreas, sciatic
nerve, subcutaneous fat
tissue, adrenals, kidneys,
spleen, immune system, blood
-O2 levels, lungs, blood sugar
Ø Large forest trees (long-living
perennials), plants that
increase bile flow, help
balance the pancreas, affect
both the mind & body. Sweet
fragrance & induce a positive
frame of mind.
Ø Cold & dry
Ø Bitter & sour flavours.
Ø Affects the bones,
teeth, joints, bladder,
skin, nerves, vagus
endocardium, ant. Pit
Ø Cold & dry
Ø Correlates with
dramatic, sudden &
expression & a desire
to break away from
Ø Herbs: grow in
unusual places –
differ from plant to
hybrids & easy to
Ø Cold & moist
Ø CSF, pineal gland, lymph
Ø Obscure, hard to Dx
Ø Herbs: ± psychoactive.
Often grow close or in the
ocean (algaes &
Ø Associated with the
subconscious & spiritual
Ø Cold & Moist
Ø Related to excretions,
the metabolic, genetic &
chemical processes that
Ø Herbs: Found in remote
places or underground
Ø Theory of the four elements (humours)
arose in ancient Greece.
Ø Numerous cultures have similar theories
(TCM: elements; UT: humours; A:
Ø Elements: Water, Fire, Earth Air.
Ø Plants (like individuals), contain all 4
elements, although one normally
Ø Kidneys, bladder,
Ø SENSE: hearing
Ø EMOTION: fear.
Ø Heart & Small
Ø SENSE: Speech
Ø EMOTIONS: Joy &
lack of joy
Ø Stomach & Spleen
Ø SENSE: Taste
Ø Lungs, large
Ø SENSE: Smell
Ø EMOTION: grief
Ø All Definitions
End of lesson 1