The word "Pharmacognosy" is derived from two greek words pharmakon (drug), and gnosis (knowledge). The term "Pharmacognosy" was used for the first time by the Austrian physician Schmidt in 1811 and 1815 by Cr. Anotheus Seydler in work titled Analecta Pharmacognostica. Pharmacognosy deals with medicines derived from natural sources and it involves the study of the physical, chemical, biochemical and biological properties of molecules of natural origin, obtained from plants, animals, minerals and marine sources so as to ascertain their potential as drugs or lead drug molecules in the search for new drugs. The study of Pharmacognosy includes method of cultivation, collection, description and identification of drugs both in their whole state and in powder form of medicinal plants. It focuses on research based evaluation of medicinal plants including isolation, identification, characterization and structural confirmation of phyto constituents. Also deals with formulation and Standardisation of herbal medicines. Pharmacognosy is interdisciplinary branch involving study of various topics like botany, ethnobotany, marine biology, microbiology, herbal medicine, phytochemistry, plant biotechnology, phytochemistry, tissue culture, production/enhancing the yield of secondary metabolites.
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