ACTUAL PROBLEMS ON THE QUALITY OF MEDICINAL AND AROMATIC PLANTS
Beyond these preconditions, the question arises how to guarantee the supply and how to optimize the quality of herbal drugs. According to the actual pharmaceutical legislation, especially in Europe and North America, the demand for definite, reproduceable and high quality has risen. A great many of conferences and discussions taken place in recent years have been dealing with questions on the quality of pharmaceuticals. Observing such discussions, one may get the impression that many professional people begin on reflecting on quality when it already is too late: analytical methods, drug control, standardisation of extracts, etc. are under discussion, but the causal field - the plant raw material - is accepted as a fact of variable quality. Here, however, we will find the key to drug quality.
On historical reflection we can state that, in former times, casual events and empirism led to the use of plant material by way of wild collection. If we go on working systematically today we start with botany and continue via pharmacognosy or phytochemistry and pharmacology up to application. All those disciplines of course are important, e.g. the exact botanical classification of the plant material in order to recover it. In combination with this the chemotaxonomy is necessary because we primarily want to use secondary plant products rather than plant mass. Anyway, in the field of drug production only little has changed. Besides those three professional people - the botanist, the natural products chemist, and the pharmacologist, who are required to explore nature for new products - we mostly miss one practical consequence in this system: the systematical plant production based on agricultural research.