Pharmacognosy is one of the courses of study in the school of Pharmacy. Roughly put, it is the exploration of natural products of biological origin such as plants and animals for bio-active constituents or drug contents. The use of herbs and so on in traditional medicine is of great interest to the course. It goes like asking what in a plant part is responsible for some healing effect when taken.
As a laboratory Technologist we have recipe of the common laboratory experiments that need to be done. Students of year two, year three and year four typically are taken for the experiments of different levels of identification and investigation of the plant materials. Yes, I have worked for four years in the job and the biological materials we have worked with have always been plants. I am not thus exposed to the process of animal examination.
In year two it begins with test for carbohydrates from different perspectives; reducing sugars, ketose, aldose, 5-C, 6-C, monosacharide, disacharide, oligosacharide, polysacharide etc. Samples of Fructose, Sucrose, Maltose, Soluble starch, Maize Starch and microcrystalline cellulose are provided for the tests. Gums and mucilages are also tested using Acacia gum, Tracacanth and Agar and then Fibres and Surgical Dressing, Lipid materials - Fixed oils, waxes and wool fat
The technologist prepares the required test solutions or reagents for the different tests such as Fehling's solution A & B, Bial's reagent, Molisch, Seliwanoff, Benedict, Iodine solution, lead acetate, Barium Chloride, Acetic anhydride etc. The test solutions are made available to students along with the sample with the help of other laboratory staff for a class that lasts three hours. This is normally in the first semester. The second semester takes year three and four students separately for different levels of the experiments. The details would be shared in subsequent piece.
Microscopic examination of the samples is also done in year two, just to mention.
I will like any comments or questions that you may have to be posted as I hope to benefit from others' experience in this field or be of benefit to somebody. That would be a great encouragement to me. I also hope to continue this series with more details from time to time.
Thank you all