Pharmacognosy 1

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
Learning objectives
Aim of this course is to provide theoretical and practical knowledge on extraction and purification techniques of herbal drugs. Moreover, students will have knowledge on collection, preparation, storage and quality control of herbal drugs and their derivatives. The course gives the bases to understand the characteristics and pharmacological activities of secondary metabolites contained in medicinal plants.
The Pharmacognosy I course includes a practical class (16 hours, attendance of the lab is mandatory) that enable students to approach a pharmacognosy laboratory for the first time, putting into practice knowledge learned throughout the course. During practical class students will perform experiments in order to recognize and identify different classes of herbal drugs metabolites with pharmacological activities.
Expected learning outcomes
At the end of the course, students will have knowledge on extraction and purification techniques of herbal drugs; students will be able to describe processes of recognition, storage and quality control of herbal drugs and to identify the main classes of secondary metabolites and their biological effects. Moreover, students will be able to practically perform the main techniques of secondary metabolites recognition starting from different herbal origins.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second semester
Course syllabus
Frontal lessons
· The pharmacognosy: introduction, definition and history of Pharmacognosy and Parmacotherapy. Concept of medicinal plant, drugs, active ingredients, drugs organized and not; the Pharmacopoeias.
· Phytocomplex: chemical and pharmacological properties (interactions between components).
· Variability factors of the content of active principles: endogenous and ontogenetic factors, exogenous factors, artificial or technical factors.
· Identification of a drug: macroscopic and microscopic characteristics, some examples.
· Overview on extraction systems for herbal drugs and their characteristics.
· Quality controls on herbal drugs: botanical, microscopic, chemical, and standardization according to the rules of the Pharmacopoeia. Examples of monografphs examples regarding quality control.
· Sophistication, adulteration falsifications, alterations: definitions and examples
· Preservation of Drug: freeze-drying, drying of crude drugs, stabilization, contamination
· Secondary Metabolism and its functions in the physiology of plants, the main cycles of biosynthetic compounds metabolism.
· Basic knowledge of the main classes of active ingredients from herbal drugs: phenolic and poliphenolic compound (coumarin, lignans, flavonoids, quinones/anthraquinones, tannins, cyanogenic glycosides, terpens (essential oils), alkaloids, fibres, gums and mucilages)
· Biotechnology applied to medicinal plants: selection, hybridization, genetic mutation, in vitro cultures of plant cells and genetic manipulations.
· Galenic and herbal formulations
· Non conventional medicine

- Seminars by experts in the field of medicinal plants are also provided.

Laboratory exercises
During laboratory exercises, students will recognize and identify different classes of compound from herbal drugs with a pharmacological effect by means of:
· identification of tannins in different herbal drugs through three different assays: flocculate formation in a 'salt-jelly' reaction, reaction of iron chloride, reaction with butanol;
· evaluation of mucilages content in two different type of seeds, flax and psyllium, using the swelling index;
· identification of anthraquinones on cascara, frangola cortex and senna-cassia leaves through direct extraction with potassium chloride and using the Borntrager reaction;
· identification of quinines on Chincona calisaya cortex through acidification with sulfuric acid and evaluation of fluorescence emitted by quinine sulfate using the UV light;
·recognition of the saponins in the Horse chestnut seeds and in the fruits of Castanea sativa through the foaming index
· preparation of two hydroalcoholic extracts starting from capitula of Matricaria chamomilla L. and Anthemis nobilis L. Evaluation of the different composition in flavonoids and phenolic acids of the two types of chamomile via TLC assay.
Prerequisites for admission
Knowledge on botany and chemistry of natural organic substances is required. In details, students are required to be able to recognize, identify and describe selected medicinal plant species and to be familiar with chemical structures of the main classes of natural substances and the main biogenetic synthesis pathways of secondary metabolites.
Teaching methods
The course includes 20 frontal lessons (2 hours each) and a practical class of 16 hours of laboratory exercises (mandatory)
Teaching Resources
Suggested books:
- MANUALE DELL'ERBORISTA: Biosintesi, estrazione e identificazione delle sostanze di origine vegetale. I. Morelli, G. Flamini, L. Pistelli. Casa editrice: tecniche nuove , 2005
- FARMACOGNOSIA: Botanica, chimica e farmacologia delle piante medicinali F. Capasso, R. De Pasquale, G. Grandolini. Casa editrice: Springer, 2011, Milano.
- MANUALE DELLE PREPARAZIONI ERBORISTICHE: Fitoterapici, fitocosmetici, prodotti erboristici, integratori alimentari a base di piante. Casa editrice: tecniche nuove 2009
- FARMACOGNOSIA Trease & Evans. Casa editrice: Piccin, 1995, Milano
- FARMACOGNOSIA APPLICATA Capasso R., Borrelli F., Longo R., Capasso F. Ed. Springer 2007

Teaching material is available on the web site ariel
Assessment methods and Criteria
1.5 hour-long written exam. The exam will be composed by four open questions and 10 multiple choice questions. Questions will be based on the topics presented in the lectures and a positive evaluation will be based on the correctness of the answers, the revealed comprehension of the arguments and the quality of the responses. The score is expressed in thirtieths and it will be communicated through unimi official web site.
BIO/15 - PHARMACEUTICAL BIOLOGY - University credits: 6
Single bench laboratory practical: 16 hours
Lessons: 40 hours
Professor: Caffino Lucia
Turno 1
Professor: Dell'Agli Mario
Turno 2
Professor: Caffino Lucia
Please contact via email to arrange a meeting
Department of Pharmacological and Biomolecular Sciences