Introduction to Pharmacognosy, interactions with other disciplines (Phytochemistry, plant biology, pharmacology, Phytotherapy, etc.). The concepts of "crude drug" and "active principle" in Pharmacognosy. Differences between organized and unorganized crude drugs. The concept of "phytocomplex", and interactions among different components occurring in the phytocomplex. Factors which may influence the variability of phytocomplex.
Basic concepts for extraction of active compounds by plant material. The criteria and requisites of medicinal plants: quality, safety, and efficacy. Purity and degradation of extracts or crude drugs.
Identification of medicinal plants: microscopic, macroscopic evaluations and examples.
Stomatal index as diagnostic method for plant identification. Foreign parts in the crude drugs. Sophistication, adulteration, falsification, alteration of plant material: definition and examples.
Safety of medicinal plants: risk, toxicity and adverse reactions. The presence of potential toxic compounds in plants: essential oils, furanocoumarins, pyrrolizidine alkaloids etc. Contaminations (microbial contaminations, parasites, fungi, radiations etc.) and limits from Pharmacopeia. Factors influencing the content of active principles in plants: natural or artificial factors. Exogenous natural factors (climatic conditions, environment etc.) or endogenous (age, growth, genetic factors, chemotypes, polyploidy etc.). Artificial factors: cultivation, harvest, storage, deterioration. Sterilization, freeze-drying, drying, stabilization. Methods from Pharmacopeia to assess the quality of crude drugs. The main classes of active principles in plants: alkaloids, tannins, flavonoids, terpenes (essential oils), gums, mucilage and lignans.
General concepts of Pharmacology
Absorption, distribution, metabolism, and elimination (ADME) definitions. Bioavailability and mode of administration of drugs. Agonists and antagonists. Pharmacological targets. Pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic interactions. Factors influencing the different phases of ADME.
Gabaergic neurotransmission. Crude drugs acting on gabaergic neurotransmission and medicinal plants which induce sleep: valerian (Valeriana officinalis), hops (Humulus lupulus), passion flower (Passiflora incarnata), lemon balm (Melissa officinalis). Serotonin, catecholamines and their neurotransmission. Dopamine, adrenaline, noradrenaline. Medicinal plants acting on serotonin neurotransmission: St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum). Crude drugs and active principles acting on dopamine neurotransmission: coca plant (Erythroxylon coca) and cocaine, plants containing L-dopa: fava bean and velvet bean (Vicia faba, Mucuna pruriens). Crude drugs and cognitive impairment: bacopa (Bacopa monnieri), turmeric (Curcuma longa), ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba), rose root (Rhodiola rosea). Acetylcholine, muscarinic and nicotinic receptors and plant extracts acting on these receptors. Antimuscarinic: belladonna, deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna), henbane (Hyoscyamus niger), jimson weed (Datura stramonium); muscarinic plants: Betel tree (Areca catechu), Jaborandi (Pilocarpus jaborandi). Antagonist of nicotinic receptors: curari. Agonists of nicotinic receptors: tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum), Indian tobacco (Lobelia inflata). Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors: Calabar bean (Physostigma venenosum). Caffeine: farmacokinetic, mode of action and natural sources. Plants containing xanthines and methylxanthines: coffee plant (Coffea arabica), tea plant (Camellia sinensis syn. Thea sinensis), guarana (Paullinia cupana), yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis), Cola (Cola spp.), cocoa tree (Theobroma cacao).
Plants acting in the urogenital tract infections: blueberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis idaea). Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) against infections: active components and mode of action. Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) and arbutin. Medicinal plant with actions in the gastrointestinal tract: eupeptic effect of gentiana (Gentiana lutea), European centaury (Centaurium erythraea), bitter orange (Citrus aurantium), wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), cinchona plants (Cinchona spp.), Iceland moss (Cetraria islandica).
Gastric inflammations (gastritis and ulcer). Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) effects on Helicobacter pylori growth and adhesion. Intestinal inflammations, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. Anthraquinones and laxative effects. Plants containing anthraquinones: Senna (Cassia angustifolia)
Plant extracts used for intestinal inflammations: Aloe, Wormwood, Andrographis, Indian Frankincense (Boswellia serrata), active components and actions. Mild laxatives, gums and mucilage (Plantago ovata, Linum usitatissimum). Glucomannan (Amorphophallus konjak), manna ash (Fraxinus spp.). Anti-diarrhoea: tannins. Anthelmintic plants. Medicinal plants used for nausea: ginger (Gingiber officinale). Plants used against hemorrhoids: horse chestnut (Aesculus ippocastanum), butcher's-broom (Ruscus aculeatus), red vine (Vitis vinifera cv. Tenturiers). Immunostimulants: ginseng (Panax ginseng), active components and possible adverse effects. Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus), purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea radix and herba, Echinacea pallida radix), composition and uses. Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus), Schizandra (Schizandra chinensis). Plants used to treat cardiovascular diseases: Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), active components and mechanism of action. Hispid strophantus (Strophantus hispidus),
Sea squill/red squill (Urginea maritima). Plants containing cardioactive glycosides: Lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis), Oleander (Nerium oleander). Plants without cardioactive glycosides: common hawthorn (Crataegus spp.). Antiplatelets: Garlic (Allium sativum) and ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba). Antitumor: neoplasia, Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum), podophyllotoxin and semi-synthetic derivatives. Vinca alkaloids and Madagascar periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus), vincristine and vinblastine; (Taxus spp.), taxol and mode of action. New antitumorals from natural origin.
Prerequisites for admission
Students must finalize the exams of Human Anatomy and Physiology, and Animal Biology and Plant Biology (as reported in Manifesto degli Studi).