Knowledge of medicinal herbs
Process of knowledge of medicinal herbs at the people of our country went original way. Data that the Scythians inhabiting the southern lands (from Dnieper to Don), for several centuries B.C. grew up the plants, most valuable to health, have remained and sold them on markets.
At archeological excavations vessels from the remains of the herbs applied in the form of infusions and broths to treatment of diseases are found in places of the ancient settlements existing in the territory of our country thousands years ago. Then the valerian, St. John's Wort, nettle, water pepper, wormwood and others were already well-known. In the Kamyanets-Podilsky district of Ukraine ancient amphoras which were used for storage of infusion of herbs are found. The pharmaceutical utensils of the past are provided in the Lviv national pharmaceutical museum and in the museum of the Central pharmaceutical institute in Moscow.
With growth of commercial and other relations between the people, and in particular thanks to geographical travel and opening, also the best overseas herbs became known.
The English botanist Tradeskant, having arrived in 1618 to Russia, has become interested in many plants of our flora applied to treatment of diseases. The scientist has taken away seeds which have been used in London at laying of the botanical garden largest at that time.
In our country of work on studying of herbs were developed in the main ambassador of creation under Peter I's decree of the St. Petersburg academy of Sciences. One of the first Russian academicians, the native of simple family, Ivan Lepyokhin (1740-1802) possess words: "The new light would light up iatrotechnics if we have learned forces and actions of plants". I. Lepyokhin participated in drawing up the first Russian pharmacopeia in which hundreds of plants have been included and recommended for medical use.
He has made number of trips over the country, studying experience of traditional medicine. The scientist persistently urged to expand application of domestic curative herbs for treatment of diseases. "Day notes" he mentions 600 species of plants in the and has with own hand sketched many of them.
Lepyokhin's contemporary academician P. S. Palas has created the country's first book devoted to flora of Russia in which all known then curative herbs are described. About one thousand new types were described by I.G. Gmelin, the botanist, the doctor and the chemist who was actively engaged in studying of herbs. The scientist was directly involved in the Siberian expedition which was carried out for nearly 10 years and interfaced to dangers and difficulties to its participants.
At the beginning of the 19th century in Europe the first alkaloid which has made the real splash has been received from opium poppy. For the specific lulling properties it was called morphine, in honor of mythical god of dream — Morpheus. Then emetine from ipecacuanha roots, caffeine from coffee seeds, quinine from bark of cinchonic tree and others has followed.
The veil over intimate secrets of wildlife was slightly opened. Scientists, figuratively speaking could "feel" biologically active agents of plants. Except alkaloids, glycosides, coumarins, terpenoids, quinones, flavonoids and others became known. Their medicinal properties have gradually been studied, extraction methods from plants and ways of creation of medicines are developed. Then also such valuable organic compounds as vitamins, their huge role in life activity of human body became known. These and other opening have again confirmed what remarkable opportunities are concealed by flora. Convenience of application and dosage of new drugs, mass release, reduction in cost of their cost — here not all advantages of these preparations. The chemistry of natural connections came to the wide road.
Russia has taken the advanced positions both in studying of medicinal flora, and in development of pharmacy — sciences about preparation of medicines. The famous Russian botanist N. I. Annenkov (1819-1889) has generalized domestic and foreign experience of research of flora. He has created the unique "Botanical dictionary" in which he called large number of herbs — 3500. It is remarkable that names of types have been given not only in Latin and Russian languages, but also on row European, and also ancient and household names were specified.
Almost in the same years there lived person who was called by right "the grandfather of the Russian chemistry". The talented scientist with world name, A.B. Voznesensky (1809-1880) has enclosed a lot of work in studying of bark of cinchonic tree. Unlike other scientists who were interested in this problem, Voznesensky has for the first time established exact composition of quinic acid. For works on research of substances of cinchonic bark the doctor's degree has been appropriated to the scientist. Theobromine — the alkaloid emitted from cocoa beans was not less important discovery made by Voznesensky. He has specified its chemical composition, has in detail described properties. The medicine has received the valuable medicine applied at spasm of coronal vessels at hypertensive and other diseases. The theobromine found also in nuts of stake and in tea leaves has been synthesized in Germany 40 years later.