Extracts of ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) leaf are widely available worldwide in herbal medicinal products, dietary supplements, botanicals and complementary medicines, and several pharmacopoeias contain monographs for ginkgo leaf, leaf extract and finished products. Being a high-value botanical commodity, ginkgo extracts may be the subject of economically motivated adulteration. We analysed eight ginkgo leaf retail products purchased in Australia and Denmark and found compelling evidence of adulteration with flavonol aglycones in three of these. The same three products also contained genistein, an isoflavone that does not occur in ginkgo leaf. Although the United States Pharmacopeia - National Formulary (USP-NF) and the British and European Pharmacopoeias stipulate a required range for flavonol glycosides in ginkgo extract, the prescribed assays quantify flavonol aglycones. This means that these pharmacopoeial methods are not capable of detecting adulteration of ginkgo extract with free flavonol aglycones. We propose a simple modification of the USP-NF method that addresses this problem: by assaying for flavonol aglycones pre and post hydrolysis the content of flavonol glycosides can be accurately estimated via a simple calculation. We also recommend a maximum limit be set for free flavonol aglycones in ginkgo extract.
In the biological sciences the use of medicinal plants in indigenous cultures is commonly seen as being based on a long tradition ('traditional medicine'). However, under normal circumstances, ethnobotanical studies cannot provide evidence on the antiquity of specific uses for medicinal plants since oral traditions have a limited historical depth and archaeological evidence does not provide evidence for the specific medicinal use of a certain plant. Here, we provide evidence for the antiquity of medicinal plant use in the Olmec region in Mexico by comparing the pharmacopoeias of the linguistically related Lowland Mixe and Zoque-Popoluca. These cultures, separated for about 2000 years, have cognates for vernacular medicinal plant names in common. For fifteen species such cognate names were detected. Also, a statistically significant segment of the medicinal flora is used for similar purposes. Overall, 123 species are shared between the two groups and of these 62 have a similar usage. In nine cases they also have a similar name. These findings make a transmission of such knowledge since the time of the Olmecs highly likely.
"Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution" The historical legacy and relevance of ethnopharmacology in drug discovery is undisputed. Here we connect the parameters influencing the selection of plant derived medicines by human culture with the concept of evolution.
In the present contribution we compare global data with local data and try to answer the questions, to what extent are the taxonomic clades included in indigenous pharmacopoeias associated with certain ailment groups, and to what extent can ecology and phylogeny, which we consider a proxy for chemical relatedness and convergence, account for the observed bias?
We use an approximated chi-square test (?(2)) to check for associations between 12 ethnomedical use-categories and 15 taxonomical clades. With cluster analyses we test for correlations between phylogeny and use-categories. We compare the 67 drug-productive families identified by Zhu et al. with the medicinal flora of the Popoluca and the APG database and compare our results with the phylogenetic target classes evidenced by Zhu et al. Furthermore, we compare the medicinal flora of the Popoluca with the world's weeds (cf. Holm et al.) and discuss our results in relation to anthropological rationales for plant selection.
The null-hypothesis "species from the 15 taxonomic clades are selected proportionally to their share in the treatment of the twelve organ- and symptom-defined use-categories" is rejected. The cluster dendrogram for the clades shows that the use patterns are to a certain extent associated with Angiosperm phylogeny. With the occurrence of 53 families the 67 drug-productive families are overrepresented in the regional flora of the Popoluca. The importance of these families in terms of their share is even more pronounced with the medicinal flora holding around 70% of all individual Popoluca informant responses.
The overall phylogenetic use pattern is influenced by both the inherent pharmacological properties, which depend on phylogeny, biogeography, ecology and ultimately allelopathy, and on culture-specific perception of organoleptic properties. The comparison of the 67 drug-productive Viridiplantae families with the ethnopharmacopoeia of the Popoluca and the APG database, shows that "traditional" pharmacopoeias and plant-derived drugs are obtained from widespread and species-rich taxa. This is not a function of family size alone. We put forward the theory that as a function of evolution, widespread taxa contain a broader range of accumulated ecological information and response encoded in their genes relative to locally occurring taxa. This information is expressed through the synthesis of allelochemicals with a wide ecological radius, showing broad-spectrum biota-specific interactions, including the targeting of proteins of mammals and primates.
To the extent possible, drug policy should be based upon good quality evidence. This must extend beyond the traditional focus on efficacy and safety in carefully selected patients, to evidence about real-world effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and safety of drugs. This paper will consider methods of improving the quality of the evidence currently available, and the implications of requiring that evidence. Historically, there has been a direct link between research evidence and policy at the level of licensing - drugs are only made available after they have been shown to be safe and efficacious in well-designed and independently assessed research studies. We propose that this reliance on evidence be logically extended to cover the formulary inclusion and post-marketing surveillance aspects of modern prescription drug policy. More specifically we propose that the decision to initially list a drug on a benefit formulary be based on evidence from relevant head-to-head comparisons and well-designed cost-effectiveness analyses. This evidence would be produced by industry in cooperation with independent peer-reviewed funding agencies. Drugs could only be added to a formulary if they met specific predetermined criteria, and drugs could be removed as superior alternatives became available. The provincial governments are monopsony buyers of medicines, and they wield the power to determine public payer "market access'for medicines. This power (within and across provinces) could be used more effectively to negotiate price in the context of reimbursement. The effect of different methods of influencing prescribing (e.g., 'limited access?) upon drug utilization and patient outcomes should be rigorously assessed, including the randomization of groups of patients or communities to different strategies. We also propose that all drugs on the formulary would be subject to a well-designed post-marketing surveillance program. This program would build on the existing passive reporting of adverse events by adding a proactive system that would systematically describe the use and impact of drugs. The notion of drug safety would be extended to include not only adverse events, but also inappropriate use of drugs that results inpatients receiving drugs that do not benefit them. Inappropriate use wastes resources and can put patients and populations at risk.
Only few medicine books in Norrøn language have survived till today. Concerning Norway and Iceland, just seven fragments of manuscripts are known to us. The oldest manuscript has been dated at about the 13th century, the youngest, which was found in Ireland, at about the time between 1500 and 1550. In medieval times, genuine Scandinavian medical literature did not exist. All seven manuscripts are connected with Continental European sources that are derived from monastic medicine and classical antiquity. The names of Galen, Hippocrates of Kos and Dioscorides are mentioned in some of the texts. Obviously, Norway and Iceland were the recipients of an intensive knowledge transfer from the South via Denmark to the North. Henrik Harpestraeng's book of herbs and the well-known 'Macer floridus' (11th century) are the main sources of the Norrøn manuscripts that are highly related to each other. The text and its variations was made use of during a long period of time and it was widely distributed. A diplomatic edition of the oldest fragment, manuscript AM 655 XXX, and a translation into modern German are the core of the article.
The fiscal "cat" of healthcare spending - drug expenditures - is out of the bag: drug costs are now the fastest rising component of healthcare expenditures in Canada. Laupacis, Anderson and O'Brien describe the current process of listing drugs on the provincial drug formulary in Ontario, identify factors that may contribute to the rapid growth in drug expenditures, and make a number of recommendations for controlling drug expenditures, including (1) improving the evidence on cost-effectiveness; (2) disseminating the evidence to prescribers; (3) re-evaluating the evidence; and (4) increasing the transparency about the acquisition costs of drugs. These are recommendations that, if implemented, would theoretically help decision-makers make more rational decisions about which drugs to list on provincial formularies. The question of how to implement the recommendations remains to be elucidated, as does an evaluation of the trade-offs between costs and benefits of obtaining better information on cost-effectiveness.