Medicinal Plants of the Russian Pharmacopoeia ; their history and applications, Alexander N. Shikov et al., 2014

Medicinal Plants of the Russian Pharmacopoeia; their history and applications

Alexander N. Shikov, Olga N. Pozharitskaya, Valery G. Makarov, Hildebert Wagner, Rob Verpoorte, Michael Heinrich

Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 2014, 154, 481–536

Doi : 10.1016/j.jep.2014.04.007


Ethnopharmacological relevance : Due to the location of Russia between West and East, Russian
phytotherapy has accumulated and adopted approaches that originated in European and Asian traditional medicine. Phytotherapy is an official and separate branch of medicine in Russia; thus, herbal medicinal preparations are considered official medicaments.The aim of the present review is to summarize and critically appraise data concerning plants used in Russian medicine.This review describes the history of herbal medicine in Russia, the current situation and the pharmacological effects of specific plants in the Russian Pharmacopoeia that are not included in the European Pharmacopoeia.

Materials and methods : Based on the State Pharmacopoeia of the USSR (11th edition), we selected plant species that have not yet been adopted in Western and Central Europe (e.g., selected for inclusion in the European Pharmacopoeia) and systematically searched the scientific literature for data using library catalogs, the online service, and data bases such as Medline/Pubmed, Scopus, and the Web of Science regarding species, effectiveness, pharmacological effects, and safety.

Results : The Russian Federation follows the State Pharmacopoeia of the USSR (11 th edition), which
contains 83 individual plant monographs.Fifty-one of these plants are also found in the European
Pharmacopoeia and have been well studied,but 32 plants are found only in the Pharmacopoeia of the
USSR. Many articles about these medicinal plants were never translated in English, and much of the information collectedbyRussianscientistshasneverbeenmadeavailabletotheinternational community. Such knowledge can be applied in future studies aime data safe, evidence-based use of traditional Russian medicinal plants in European and global phytopharmacotherapy as well as for the discovery of novel leads for drug development.

Conclusion : The review highlights the therapeutic potential of these Russian phytopharmaceuticals but also highlights cases where concern has been raised about product safety and tolerability, which would aid insupporting their safe use.

Keywords : Aralia elata, Bergenia crassifolia, Bidens tripartita, Gnaphalium uliginosum, Inonotus, obliquus, Tussilago farfara


1. Introduction

Approximately 350,000 higher plants are estimated to exist (Heywood2011). Relatively speaking, very few medicinal plants have been studied scientifically. Russia’s large size and varied soils, topography and climate favor the growth of anextensive number of herbs, trees, and other plants. This had led to anactive interest in locally grown plants, which has stimulated serious study by traditional healers and early official physicians alike. Herbal and natural remedies are the product of hundreds of years of careful
observationoftheir therapeutic effects and risks; thus, their properties and side effects are quite well known.In one approach, scientists isolated one or more of the medicinal principles from individual herbs in the laboratory (and possibly enhanced them chemically) to create new medications that were often more powerful than the original plant. This approach eventually led to the development of a number of new herb-based medicines and the creation of synthetic pharmaceuticals that duplicate the active medicinal element of the original plant. Aspirin, codeine, digoxin, and other drugs have their origins in herbal medicine (Yarnell, 2000). However,not all of these efforts were successful. Scientists have often found that the herbs themselves, which possess unique combinations of chemical components, are more effective than the chemical derivatives(Li, 2002). As a result, medical science has also focused on the medicinal values of the herbs themselves and how they could best be incorporated into medical practice.

Although synthetic medicine continues to progress,the value of medicinal plants (especially those in the highly developed and unique Russian herbal medical tradition) remain largely unknown in the West.
Nevertheless, information about plants that are referenced in the Russian Pharmacopoeia and their applications remain fragmentary.The aim of the present review is to fill this gap by summarizing the data concerning plants used in Russian officinal medicine. This review describes the history of herbal medicine in Russia, the current situation and the pharmacological effects of plants that appear in the Russian Pharmacopoeia but are not included in the European Pharmacopoeia. Such knowledge can be applied to expanding the use of these plants in the pharmacotherapy of European and other countries and in the development of new drugs.