The word Pharmacognosy is derived from two Greek words, ‘Pharmakon’ meaning ‘drug’ and ‘gnosis’ meaning ‘knowledge’. Therefore, Pharmacognosy literally means knowledge of drugs. Pharmacognosy is one of the important branches of pharmacy.
It deals with “ the study of structural, physical, chemical and sensory characters of crude drugs of animal, vegetable and mineral origin and includes their history, cultivation, collection, storage and use.“ From a nonprofessional’s point of view, Pharmacognosy is nothing but medicinal botany.
Though the term Pharmacognosy is a modern one, the knowledge of medicinal plants and their uses are as old as humankind is. It has developed from ancient civilizations, where plants or plants parts have been used to cure human diseases / disorders.
The healing power of certain herbs and plant parts such as leaves, barks, roots etc. were undoubtedly discovered by accident, but once discovered, knowledge of drugs was passed on from generation to generation.
Nowadays, people are increasingly turning to indigenous systems of medicine, which are holistic and not only treat diseases but also prevent them. Further, they are free from side effects.
With the rising popularity of traditional systems of medicine, there is a growing demand for professionals in this field. In order to become a medical practitioner in Indian system of medicine, a formal education is mandatory.